The Japanese Raindrop Cake that took the Internet by the storm: Mizu Shingen Mochi. 3 ingredients. Vegan. Gluten-Free. Yumm!
We’ve all seen the Buzzfeed videos of a magnificent water cake that’s wildly popular in Japan. It looks like a water drop that can be held in your hands, bitten into, but dissolves into water within just 30 minutes of being served.
Isn’t it fascinating, that it comes with it’s own self-destruct mechanism. If it’s not eaten in 30 minutes, you don’t get to eat it at all!
The origins of the Water Cake
The Kinseiken Seika Company are the proud creators of this simple yet magnificent dessert. It is made from fresh water taken from the Japanese Alps. The water sourced from the mountains is so tasty that it needs no other flavouring. Mizu in Japanese means ‘water’, Mochi is a kind of dessert made with glutinous rice flour and Shingen Mochi is a trademarked dessert made by the Kinseiken Seika Company.
Because of the delicate temperament of this particular dessert, it is sold in very few of their stores, cannot be reserved in advance nor taken away from the store. All this ads up to a long line of customers outside the two stores that do sell it, every singe day!
Yes, you can make it yourself
For those of us who cannot travel all the way to the land of the rising sun to savour this water cake, or afford the exorbitant $8 charged for it in New York, the only remaining course of action is to make it ourselves.
In theory, the water is solidified using agar agar, set in a spherical mold and as easy as it sounds, it took me no less than 7 tries to get it right despite following recipes to the letter!
No wonder it is so popular everywhere! Rarity and unattainability truly adds to the allure of an object.
Living in the city, getting our hands on clean, natural spring water is a little hard, but try using bottled mineral/spring water instead. When I tried using filtered water, it resulted in a slightly cloudy product with no detriment in taste.
From my mistakes to your success
Here are a few things to remember while making yourself this water cake:
– Use filtered water, or even better, bottled spring/mineral water. The clearer the water, the more transparent the end result is.
– Dissolve the agar agar in the water, and bring it to a rolling boil for a good 1 minute.
– Let cool completely, before pouring it into molds.
– When you see the cooled liquid, you should see it clear, without any pooled agar settlements at the bottom. If you see agar sitting at the bottom, boil it for a minute more, stirring constantly.
– Agar sets at room temperature, but since this dessert uses such small quantities of the stuff, you will need to refrigerate it overnight or for at least 5-6 hours. Overnight is safer.
– A lot of tutorials suggest using a spherical mold, but the agar bond is so weak, that the sphere does not ‘sit’ well without falling apart (see picture below). So use a semi-spherical mold instead with a flat base. It’s much better for maintaining the structural integrity of the delicate dome.
– Serve and eat as soon as it is un-molded. Refrigeration after un-molding does not prevent it from turning into a puddle of water.
– If your attempt failed, don’t throw away the jelly. Reheat in a saucepan till it ‘melts’ back into liquid. If the problem was too much agar (firm, opaque jelly), add more water. If the problem was that it did not set, add a pinch more agar.
Your trial is a success if 1) it unmolds without breaking 2) jiggles when handled 3) starts ‘weeping’ as soon as it is unmolded 3) Looks almost as clear as glass 4) returns to a puddle in 30 minutes.
The Mizu Shingen Mochi is served with a side of Kuromitsu (black sugar syrup) and Kinako (roasted soybean powder). If you cannot find Kuromitsu, you can substitute with honey or light jaggery syrup. And Kinako can be substituted with roasted split chickpea (bengal gram) flour. Or even better, roasted peanut powder.
How does it taste?
Honestly, it’s very hard to describe. The jelly itself is tasteless, but the texture is quite fascinating! When you slice it, it is jiggly and hard to get onto the spoon, and considering that I used a wooden spoon, harder! So take note – don’t use a wooden spoon and for goodness sake, no chopsticks! Once you eat it, it breaks apart in your mouth, almost bursting into cool, crisp water again.
What gives flavour to this ‘cake’ is the Kuromitsu and Kinako. If you are a South-Indian, and you’ve had sweet kozhukattai with jaggery and coconut, eating this feels like that…. Except, in place of the floury dumplings, there’s translucent, edible water.
This was the most fun kitchen project I’ve ever undertaken, and despite the several heart wrenching failures, I still kept at it, which made the successful attempt that much sweeter.
I do hope you try it, and let me know your Mizu Shingen story in the comments below.
– Measurement is extremely important for this recipe. My 1 cup = 235ml | 1/3 cup = 80ml | 1/4tsp = 1.25ml
– When taking the agar agar, make sure you level the spoon. No heaped, no casual piling, but a definitive, packed 1/4 teaspoon.
– I used this spherical mold from Amazon here.