Going for job interviews is hard. You have to prepare, arrive at a strange location with lots of time in hand, quell the dancing butterflies in your stomach and try to persuade people that they should give you a chance. After all that, you feel drained and the only solution is to get a snack for yourself as a reward.
After such a job interview in the Spitalfields area, which left me particularly drained, I decided to head back to the old Spitalfields market, as I had passed through it on my way to the interview. A stand selling something called wheel cakes caught my attention. In the stand was a cooking station made of a wonderfully polished copper, in which circles had been indented. These were filled with batter. As the batter cooked, other ingredients were added into the centre, like green tea, chocolate, and red bean paste. To finish the wheel cake, another half cooked circle was placed onto the filling, raw sides together, forming a seal over the fillings.
After chatting with the stall owner, I learned that wheel cakes where developed from the Japanese sweet, Dorayaki. This is similar to two, America style pancakes sandwiched around a filling. Typically in Japan and other Asia countries, its red bean paste, but matcha and a chocolate sauce has been used as well. The owner said that making and assembling the pancakes was a bit difficult to do in a market stall setting and so the idea of wheel cakes was created as it made it easier to make quickly and in large quantities. I am not sure if the stall came up with the idea or if it originated in Taiwan, which is where the stalls culture originated from.
I ordered three cakes because I wanted to do a thorough taste test and totally not because I am a glutton! I got matcha, chocolate and the day’s special, Oreo with custard. They were still warm and smelled wonderfully sweet, a bit like a pancake. The inside was fluffy and moist with a delightfully crisp crust, which I liked as it gave the whole cake support, instead of falling apart after the first bite and you end up holding a handful of mush. The chocolate was first. A nub of chocolate had been added and it had semi-melted, so you got to enjoy the sweet chocolate sauce, with surprise un-melted lumps, which I loved.
Next was today’s special, a whole Oreo cookie and vanilla custard. The slight bitterness of the biscuit enhanced the sweetness of the custard, as well as giving a good crunch, which was surprising. I would have thought that the cookie would have become soft in the batter, but maybe cooking it quickly helped maintain its bite and gave great texture to an overall soft cake. Personally, I am not a fan of Oreos but I enjoyed them in the wheel cake.
Finally, the matcha wheel cake, the one I was looking forward to the most. Matcha, if done well, can be delicious. However, if it’s too intense, it becomes bitter and overwhelms the more subtle flavours that would be present in the batter. I had nothing to worry about. The matcha was sweet and delicate, allowing for that grassy green tea taste to be fully enjoyed. The matcha had been made into a thick creamy paste which, had become soft and oozed out when bitten into, as if asking me to take another bite.
After a stressful event, hard work or a busy work session, you should reward yourself, by taking a walk in the sun, a cup of tea, some chocolate or getting to try something new, like wheel cakes. Remember that you are all doing a great job, but also be sure to reward yourself, even if it’s just small, it will brighten your day and make the work easier.
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