Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Mushipan (Steamed Cake)

Ah, these cakes almost make me cry from nostalgia. Mushipan was one of a few homemade desserts my mom used to make when I was very small.

No, it's not that my mom was terrible at baking or making desserts. It was just not a popular thing to do in olden days in this rural area. When my grandma was young, this place was nothing but a poor village, and sugar was a luxury for most farmers and fishermen. With some exceptions, sweets were usually something to be bought at stores on special occasions. And my mom's generation was the one that experienced the extreme poverty and starvation after WWII in their childhood. So, you see why not many dessert recipes have been handed down in my family? (It was in her early fifties that my mom learned to make jams and sugared orange peels and to bake bread.)

Anyway, I can recall three desserts mom used to make when I was a kindergarten kid, which were: very simple pancakes, doughnuts and mushipan. She made the pancakes and doughnuts from scratch, but used "mushipan mix" (pre-mixed baking mix) to make her mushipan.

I really like the ones made from the mushipan mix because they are so light, so fluffy and not too sweet (and darn easy to make). But I couldn't find the baking mix at our regular supermarket the other day, so I tried out a recipe from that Japanese recipe site again.

Matcha Swirl Version

These home-made ones were pretty good, too, but much heavier than the ones made with the mushipan mix. 


badudels said...

hello Obachan!

I'm a ryuugakusei at Kochi Daigaku. I just recently discovered your blog site and though I just read a few so far I find your blog omoshiroi :-)and it so nice to know that someone from Kochi have a blog in English.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your blogs and by the way I also like mushi pan.

Cara said...

I've usually assumed there weren't many japanese desserts/cakes because many Japanese just don't like sweet things much. And there is only so much you can do with anko.
Tell me more about mushipan - it's not really written with the kanji for "insect" and katakana for "bread", is it?

Cara said...

... and if I would have looked at the recipe before commenting, I might have seen the word is "steamed" - sorry! I should definetly pick up the habit of reading before commenting, same thing as thinking before talking ... gomen ne!

cocopuff1212 said...

My mother was not an Okashi kind of person, but she did make Mushipan once in a big while. Hers was dense and heavy, though -- she must have made it from scratch. She also made deep-fried bread crust (pan no mimi), sprinkled with sugar.

That was in the forties (Showa, that is!).

P-T said...

Those cakes look so good! You say they're heavier than the ones made from the mix but they look really nice and fluffy in your pics. I love the way they look quite healthy (as healthy as a cake can look anyway) and not too sweet!

Jeannie said...

I am very happy to have found your blog today. It is beautiful and inspiring.

I have not eaten good mushi pan in quite a long time. Most people I know make it with pancake mix, which makes a heavier bread. Maybe I should try making some one day with cake flour??

I look forward to your future posts!


obachan said...

Hi! I'm so happy that you found my blog. Wow, Kochi-dai!! I used to have a very good friend in Nogakubu in Nankoku. He already went back to his home country, but visits this blog once in a while, so you guys might bump into each other on this site. ;)

I added, on the left sidebar, a link to the list of posts about my favorites in Kochi. (I had been meaning to do this for several months but kept forgetting.) Those are posts I made while I lived in Kochi city and I thought you (and other Kochi-related readers) might be interested.

Oh, no. Japanese do love sweet things and anko is probably more versatile than you might think. But it is true that the history of Japanese sweets is somewhat different from that of Western sweets. Hmm... This can be a very interesting research topic.

No, not insect. LOL Just the pronunciation is the same, but the kanji used for the "mushi" part is 蒸 meaning "steamed." "Insect bread"... AHHH...Sounds gross! LOL

No problem. ;)

I only vaguely remember this but mushipan seemed to have been so popular nationwide when I was small. Do you happen to know "roba no pan?" It's sort of like hot dog van but they sell mushipan instead of hot dogs. And mom says that they used two-wheeled cart towed by a donkey when she was young.

Pan no mimi!!! Yes, yes!! Natsukashiii. :D

Thanks. They were definitely not too sweet, and dad loved them.

ようこそ。( ^^)ノ

I heard that Japanese pancake mix contains some ingredients that mushipan mix doesn't, such as starch, vegetable fat, skimmed milk, dextrin, etc. so I wouldn't be surprised if the texture turned out a bit differently.

I used cake flour to make these mushipan, and they were still heavier perhaps because of the eggs and yogurt?

Grace said...

Ha ha, my husband tried to translate the recipe for Mushipan using Yahoo Babel fish. It was hilarious! My best friend in Indiana said she blamed me for getting her hooked on your blog so it's my responsibility to get a translated version of the recipe for her. I love a challenge. I don't think I ever had mushipan, but it does look delicious!!!

obachan said...

Grace, if you need help with the translation, please email me.

Tindy said...


Matcha mushipan? They look so good!!! I'm going to have to get my mama to make them for me. (I don't think she's very good at baking, though.)

K and S said...

looks good!

Anonymous said...

wow those look really good! :)

obachan said...

You don't really have to be good at baking to make mushipan, to tell you the truth. Just mix and steam. And they don't get burned. ;)

K & S;

Thank you.

Lim said...

Hi! Chanced upon your blog when looking for a recipe to make mushipan... Thanks for sharing! However, I am having some problems translating the recipe as online translators cannot translate fully and I cannot understand Japanese!

Would be very grateful if you could help me out with the recipe! (:

Thank you!


Amato said...

I introduced mushi pan to German readers, on my blog, there was a whole "mushi-pan madness" afterwards... ;-)
Do you maybe know a mushi pan with "moch-mochi" texture?
A Japanese recipe/link is fine for me, can translate. I already have search at cookpad but didn’t find any recipes...
Thank you!

PS. I was already a silent reader on your previous blog, but didn’t comment, because of my bad English.


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