Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Sakura Roll Cake 桜の花ロールケーキ

Sakura Roll Cake

During our recent trip to Osaka, we lugged back quite a few ingredients commonly used for wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets and desserts. Cathy from Cathy’s Joy and I were discussing what to make for this month’s Aspiring Baker’s “Rollin’ Good Times” theme and 孟老师’s sakura roll cake came to mind. It was meant to be a bakealong with her but I was too slow! Anyway, here it is for the record! Better late than never!

The version I did is slightly different from Cathy’s. I used a method which requires the egg yolk to be emulsified with caster sugar by hand whisking over a bain marie while she used a chiffon sponge method. Both are quite good I think but I just wanted to try something different.
Sakura Roll Cake
And here’s the recipe from 孟老师的美味蛋糕卷

36 x 26 cm 26 x 26 cm
Cake Roll
Unsalted butter 40g 28g
White bean paste 50g 35g
Fresh milk 25g 17.5g
Egg yolk 80g (about 4) 56g
Caster sugar 15g 10.5g
Egg white 150g (about 4) 105g
Caster sugar 75g 52.5g
Cake flour 50g 35g
Sakura Paste Filling
Unsalted butter 80g 56g
Egg yolk 30g 21g
Caster sugar 30g 21g
Cake/ pastry flour 15g 10.5g
Fresh milk 160g 112g
Vanilla pod ½ ½
Sakura bean paste 60g 48g
Pickled cherry blossoms about 15 about 15

I had to scale down the recipe as I was using a 10 x 10″ square tin. The original recipe is for a 11 x 14″ baking tray.
Sakura Roll Cake

Pickled cherry blossoms 桜の花漬


Roll Cake

(1)    Rinse pickled cherry blossoms copiously with several water changes to wash away excess salt and soak in water for 2h

(2)    Drain the water and pat dry the flowers on kitchen towel.

(3)    On half of the baking tray lined with baking paper, place sakura flowers

(4)    Melt the unsalted butter via bain marie.

(5)    Using a bain marie again, whisk egg yolks and caster sugar until it emulsifies. Periodically remove the mixing bowl from water bath when the temperature gets too high and return it onto the bain marie when temperature decreases. It should look creamy and pale.

(6)    Mix sakura bean paste and fresh milk in a small bowl  and add to emulsified egg yolk mixture

(7)    Prepare french meringue with egg white and caster sugar until just before reaching stiff peaks. Do not overbeat!

(8)    Add 1/3 meringue into egg yolk mixture and mix until incorporated. Repeat with the rest of meringue.

(9)    Sieve and fold in cake flour in 2-3 additions.

(10)Take a small amount of batter in (9) and mix with butter

(11) Fold butter mixture in (10) into rest of batter mixture in (9)

(12)Pour batter carefully into lined baking tray over the sakura flowers

(13)Level the batter with an offset spatula or scrapper and bake in preheated oven a 180C for 12min until top becomes golden brown.
Sakura Roll Cake
The largest packet is sakura-flavoured bean paste made from 白花豆 lima beans and 桜葉 sakuraba, i.e. pickled sakura leaves, seen here together with some other “sakura-themed” knick knacks from Japan.

Sakura Crème Mousseline Filling

(1)    Leave unsalted butter to soften at room temperature

(2)     Prepare crème patisserie by first mixing flour, egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.

(3)    Infuse vanilla pod with milk in a heavy saucepan and stir in sakura bean paste

(4)    Stream in heated milk mixture to egg yolk mixture slowly with constant stirring.

(5)    Return mixture to saucepan and continue to heat until consistency thickens. Raise the saucepan away from stove to prevent curdling

(6)    Continue to stir until the mixture cools down. Using an ice bath if necessary

(8)    Fold softened butter into crème patisserie until well incorporated.
Sakura Roll Cake
Soaking and rinsing the flowers and see how they “bloom”. Sublime beauty if you ask me.


(1) Leave the baked roll on a cooling rack and peel off the paper adhering to the sides.

(2) When the cake has cooled down, place another baking sheet over the surface and carefully invert the cake with the blossoms facing downwards

(3) Spread the Sakura Crème Mousseline over the surface with a spatula leaving a margin along edges of the longer sides.

(4) Using a rolling pin as a guide, roll the cake into a log. The pressure from the process would push the filling towards the edges thus filling them up.

(5) Wrap the roll with the baking parchment and put it into the refrigerator until it firms up.

(6) Slice and serve accordingly.
Sakura Roll Cake
Lining the baking tray with cherry blossoms
Sakura Roll Cake
Preparing the Sakura Crème Mousseline Filling. I added a tinge of Wilton’s “Rose” coloring to give it some color but seem to have overdone it a bit. At least it’s not shock pink!
Sakura Roll Cake
Peeling off the baking sheet just after taking it out from the oven. A big mistake!!! Read on to find out why…
Sakura Roll Cake
Looks real fugly to me but at least it tasted quite decent.  Sweet and savoury at the same time. Queasy but surprising it works!
Sakura Roll Cake
Close up on a slice to show the Sakura Crème Mousseline filling speckled with vanilla.
Sakura Roll Cake
Taking a large bite.. well not that large considering how small the roll is to start with!
Sakura Roll Cake
Sponge was wonderfully soft without the crumbly texture of a genoise while the cream was lush and luxuriant.


(1) I liked the recipe for the sponge which required the egg yolk to be emulsified with sugar giving the cake an overall really soft and fluffy texture. Its just a tad more work compared to the chiffon sponge technique but while worth the effort I think.

(2) Sakura Crème Mousseline Filling worked pretty well I thought. It was really luscious and creamy without the sickly heft which whipped cream can sometimes impart.

(2) I made quite a few bloopers when making this cake roll so I’m listing them here so that others who try out the recipe would not commit them like I did

(a) I baked the roll on the lowest rack. This is a grave mistake as (1) the top of the cake failed to achieve the desired caramelisation and browning. Conversely, the bottom containnig the cherry blossoms and cake turned out too brown and became slightly discoloured. Need to bake on a middle rack next time!

(b) I peeled off the whole baking sheet too fast as I’d misread the instructions. Only peel off the sides to allow steam to escape from the bottom when the cake was first taken out of the oven. Leave the cake to cool down completely before peeling away the rest of the paper. Having done this earlier than I should have, the cake was still rather moist and adhered to the paper and some cherry blossoms got stuck. Of course, it has to do with the fact that the cherry blossoms where probably too “cooked” as well.

(c) The next point is more of a mindless ranting than a mistake… MY OVEN IS TOO FREAKIN’ SMALL!!! I mean…. my rendition can hardly be called a roll since it barely went round twice in the most unceremonious manner. As a result, my petite and dainty roulade was dubbed as “cute” by J3ss, Cathy and Eelin. The gals are too kind. While I kinda like the shape of the roll looking like a hiragana character , I seriously think more rolling would do this cake greater justice to live true to its name! So size does matter! I need a bigger tool oven!!! Not asking for a Dietrich but just something bigger so that I could get bigger/longer baking trays. More shopping, yay!!!

Sakura Roll Cake

I am submitting this entry to Aspiring Bakers #9 – Swiss Rolling Good Times (July 2011) hosted by Obsessedly Involved with Food

29 responses

  1. Alan, this is killing me man… I almost broke my computer screen to grab the Sakura roll cake. I can’t find a suitable adjective that is good enough to describe its beauty. The photos are so breath taking that I need some oxygen now! Why did I do this again? I must remember not to visit you just before I go to bed. Now I will be awake the whole night thinking about your Sakura roll cake! Someone give a tranquilizer please!!

    July 7, 2011 at 1:38 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha are you ok veronica? glad you liked it. but i think it can do with a bit more work yeah?

      July 8, 2011 at 10:49 am

  2. alan, this looks fantastic!! i envy that you’re able to lug home the whole range of sakura-related products 😦 lemme tell u my story! i was actually looking for the pickled sakura for the longest time and places like meidi-ya and isetan orchard dont carry. online sites either dont ship internationally (like cuoca) or that u need an agent (like taobao). i finally found it on rakuten.jp, a site like ebay that makes up of different merchants. the sakura was 630¥ (abt S$9) for a 200g pack. it was stated that i could place my order 1st and when they advise me on the shipping charges on a separate email, i could then decide if i wanted to go ahead with the order or cancel it. ended up when they advised me on the shipping which was a whopping $17, they told me they already shipped out my package! i was infuriated! i ended up paying $26 for that 200g of pickled sakura *stabs heart* when i received the package there was still alot of room for other stuff but they didnt gimme a chance to amend or cancel my order. so unethical! nv tot the japanese would do such things 😦 i learned a good lesson tho – nv place any order until im advised of the shipping charges FIRST 😦

    on a positive note i finally gotten the pickled sakura albeit a really expensive one and my friend got me the little bottle of essence as well. am thinking whether i shd make this roll cake or a chiffon 1st. u think i can make my own sakura shiro koshi-an? 🙂

    July 7, 2011 at 4:55 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha i can so empathise with you, Evan! but shipping can be so idiotic, especially if you use sites like VPOST. They messed up a recent shipping bill and charged me for 11kg when the parcel is only 1.8kg! The parcel is still in transition so see how that goes.

      Cuoca has lotsa good stuff but yeah, they don’t ship internationally like you’ve said. And they don’t have a store in Kansai area. Will definitely check them out when we visit Tokyo!

      You’d tried the essence yet? The flavour is so subtle. I was wondering if one has to pour the whole bottle in…

      Definitely can make shiro koshi’an with lima beans. just that they are so expensive and the packaging is so teeny from isetan scotts and meidiya. Do you have a good source for them?

      July 8, 2011 at 10:54 am

      • Kaylin


        July 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      • alan, not sure what happened, my previous comment just went missing. anyway, i haven’t tried using the essence yet but yea i did try smelling from the bottle it seems pretty mild. did u add alot? i bought lima beans quite sometime ago actually, brand is bob’s red mill and a 793g pack cost me about 8 bucks. i got it from vivocity’s cold storage. not that expensive actually, i’m more concerned about the work involved – soaking, boiling, straining lol. was the one u saw at meidi-ya of a different brand? anyway how much did u pay for the pickled sakura in japan?

        July 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      • Alan (travellingfoodies)

        i hadnt used it too but like you, i took a whiff off the bottle and dabbed a little on my palm and took a lick :p It tasted quite mild too… so i’m wondering how much of it should I add. gonna do sakuramochi next.

        Bob’s Red Mill’s freakin’ ex! I bought their Brown Rice Flour for a whooping 9+ bucks as well. damn!

        The lima beans at isetan scotts is not by Bob’s, and from Japan instead. Hopefully Hokkaido, where very good red beans 赤小豆 for azuki are grown. According to Sadaharu Aoki, the ones from Hokkaido are more “withstanding” to cooking and holds their shape better than the ones used in Chinese cooking, and thus more suitable for use in wagashi and Japanese-inspired baking! Anyway, I’d digressed…

        We picked up pickled sakura in three places, ala 3 different packaging. The ones lying down are from Tokyu Hands in Shinsaibashi (Minami Senba), Osaka, the tall packet standing is from Nishiki Market in Kyoto which sold all sorts of pickled stuff and the bottled ones are from some shop in Higashiyama, Kyoto near Kyomizu-dera. They ranged from 240-350 Yen per pack/bottle. I’d seen them at Sakuraya Fish Market in Singapore going for nearly 10 bucks for a small container.

        btw, what happened to your blog huh!? opened to readers only??? nooo!!! I need to read your blog!!!

        need to digress again but something to share with you since we are such Aoki freaks fans. He has a new work called Sudachi yeah? I saw the real thang at Isetan Scotts yesterday!!! And they look so much like Calmansi! and they are so expensive! 27.90 for 10 calamansi sized fruits…. and I thought yuzu was the ultimate at 9.90 a shrivelled-looking fruit.

        July 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

  3. I still think your mini rolls look cute =)

    July 7, 2011 at 7:17 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hahaha but i like yours! more decent lookin’… and size matters! lol

      July 8, 2011 at 10:55 am

  4. How big is your oven? I think your roll is beautiful, barring the slight coloring overboard. Sakura cookies would be divine.

    July 7, 2011 at 7:35 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      barely able to fit a 10 x 10″ tray, Pickyin. that’s how pathetic it is. :\

      sakura cookies sounds fab! gotta go recipe for them? I checked Junko Fukuda but she aint got one.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

  5. NEL

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. They look perfectly fine to me. Very cute and pretty! If this is not up to your standard, I will be fearful of looking at your post when you get your next swiss roll right. Like Quay Po, I may just end up breaking my computer screen. LOL!

    July 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha you are too kind, Eelin! Until i get a bigger oven, i think my swiss rolls would look quite drab. And there’s so many more things to do! I’m dying to try out the recipes in Laduree’s book. So swiss rolls…. see how it goes. LOL

      July 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

  6. one of the prettiest swiss roll i’ve seen! even though you find the surface might looked a little pale, i still think it looks great! the sakura mousseline must have tasted fabulous, a perfect combination i would say!

    July 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      thanks lena! the sakura could have been better if they were less burnt though…

      and yes, i liked the consistency of the creme mousseline, better than creme patisserie (which is very good already!) but without much more effort!

      July 8, 2011 at 11:01 am

  7. I didn’t know there were things like pickled sakura but that photograph of them blooming is just…so beautiful is the word that strikes me. I’ve always thought it kinda weird to eat sakura flowers, but the way you describe it – as savoury and sweet at the same time, makes me want to try it some time, maybe after I get myself to Japan to buy those lovely sakura products you’ve mentioned 🙂

    July 7, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hi Janine! pickled sakura flowers is commonly used as a floral tea in japan. suppose to “calm the heart”. dunno how true that is considering how salty it tastes.

      let me know if you wanna try some cherry blossoms. Could trade off with those vanilla pods when I was suppose to get from you eons back! lol

      July 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

  8. I think I still have the salted sakura flowers in my fridge …. after 1 year… wondering if I can still use them. Should be no problem, I think. I should really get down to do something with them.

    I think you’ve done a great job, Alan. Actually I am more curious about the mouselline…

    July 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      try soaking a blossom or two and see they look funny. remember to rinse the flowers with lotsa water to “de-brine” them. the sakura i got were pickled from last year’s blooms anyway, so it shouldnt be that bad.

      creme mousseline is basically creme patisserie + soften butter. creamier and more luxuriant!

      July 8, 2011 at 11:05 am

  9. alan, u mind if we email? the comments are getting abit too long (and hard to scroll). i don’t see a reply button at the end of yr comment oso, very strange. whats yr email? this conversation is getting rather interesting lol, ah yes, we’re AOKI freaks alright! haha

    July 10, 2011 at 7:13 am

  10. L

    was and still am utterly impressed =) more swiss rolls from u? 🙂

    July 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha I’m not sure… kinda swiss roll overkill already.. just by looking at what some of the others have conjured. 🙂

      July 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm

  11. Hubby was in Tokyo last week, but he only managed to hunt down two miserable small packages for me. Incredibly expensive for that few petal. Guess it takes an expert to know where to find it.

    July 26, 2011 at 8:27 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      two small packages of dried sakura? that should suffice yeah? It doesnt take an expert la. We printed out a list of items which I’d hope to get from tokyo in Hiragana, Katakana, KanJi (if any), Romanji and English. It also helped to print out some basic maps from googlemaps on where to find what. The hotel we stayed at Osaka was just a street away from Tokyu Hands so that certainly helped. We also found out about the nearest and/or biggest supermarkets, Daiso, 100 Yen shops from the hotel conceirge/helpdesk. in short, just need to do some homework beforehand. 🙂

      July 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm

  12. Pingback: Matcha and Azuki Buttermilk Pound Cake « travellingfoodies

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  14. Nicolas

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe. I added it to the list of the best recipe with sakura and linked back to your blog:


    I am looking forward to read more or your recipes.

    July 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Thanks you for your link! 🙂

      July 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm

  15. New Sakura fan

    I think I’m few years behind. One question – when u pour the batter over the Sakura flowers, did they run? Yours turned out beautifully spread, I’m just afraid that when I pour the batter, the flowers to be pushed out of position 😦

    April 14, 2014 at 11:50 pm

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