I miss a lot of things about Japan, but in late March and early April, I really miss the cherry blossoms.

Sakura at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu

Sakura at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu

I also really miss all the sakura-flavored treats that can be found, in abundance. I could really go for a sakura frappuccino from Starbucks right about now. Oh, man, were those good.

It’s hard to find any kind of sakura flavoring in the States. I’ve looked. Many times. I’ve had other people look for me. The closest thing I had to any kind of sakura flavoring was some sakura sugar that I’ve had for who-knows-how-long. I know I bought it near Mt. Fuji, so I’m thinking I got it when Geordie and I took our New Year’s road trip in the winter of 2010/2011. In other words, I’ve had it for a long time.

And I decided it was about time to use it.

I actually couldn’t find any sakura-flavored cupcake recipes online. There are plenty of cherry-flavored cakes, but sakura isn’t the same as plain old cherry. I mean, I like cherries, but they’re not like sakura at all. It’s impossible to explain how sakura tastes. Very similar to how it smells, but then, it’s hard to explain that too.

It smells like spring.

It smells like . . . hope and magic and beauty.

It smells like sakura. That’s the best I can say about it.

What I found was cupcakes flavored with lavender sugar – the recipe is here at Not Quite Nigella. Interestingly enough, it is a recipe from Nigella Lawson.

I simply replaced the lavender sugar with my sakura sugar. The only problem was that I didn’t have enough of the sakura sugar. I had to supplement it with regular sugar. The proportions turned out to be about three-quarters sakura sugar to one-quarter regular sugar. I hoped it was enough to keep the sakura flavor prominent.

It was not.

sakuracupcakes

There was the barest hint of sakura flavor to this cupcake. The barest. It was harder to detect with the frosting (I used the remainder of my vanilla bean frosting), but even by itself, the cake had such a subtle sakura flavor. It was hard to tell if I was really tasting sakura or just remembering what it tasted like.

Despite that, it did taste good. The cake had a very delicate crumb, light and spongy. I’m sure it’s quite tasty with the lavender sugar! And naturally, the frosting continues to be terrific. I can’t begrudge this cupcake its flavor. It’s fine. It’s a good cupcake. It’s a tasty cupcake. It’s just isn’t the cupcake I wanted.

Not what I wanted, but nobody complained. Geordie brought none of them home, though he wasn’t sure if anybody had actually tasted the sakura. Oh, well. Perhaps I’ll be able to try again in the future.

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