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August 14, 2006

A Taste of Sadaharu Aoki

edited on 1/24/07: I regret to say that as of today I will no longer be giving out the recipe to the matcha opera cake. Thank you to everyone who has expressed such interest in this creation and written me. I have to say that this is a deeply personal recipe for me, as I learned the original recipe in pastry school and later adapted it myself to include matcha. When I got the first couple of requests for the recipe, I decided to make a couple of exceptions because the e-mails were so sincere, but since then the e-mails have become a flood. Unfortunately, I just do not feel comfortable making this recipe so public - I hope you all understand about treasured family or "secret" recipes. If you would still like to try making this, I suggest you find a recipe for opera cake (they are easily found on the internet) and experiment with adding matcha powder to the components. Thanks so much for understanding, and I hope you take advantage of the other recipes on this site!

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My visit to Paris last September was my introduction to Sadaharu Aoki and his gorgeous interpretation of French pastry. While the Japanese have been almost frighteningly adept in their ability to replicate classic French pâtisserie, I am more intrigued when they find ways to impart their cultural sensibilities into their pastry making - after all, creativity and innovation is what keeps the culinary world from staying fresh and interesting! At Sadaharu Aoki's sleek little boutique on rue de Vaugirard, I found, alongside such classics as opera cake and lemon tarts, black sesame fondant - covered eclairs and green tea chocolate bars. Every single pastry was delicately made and, of course, picture perfect. Naturally, I wanted to buy everything, but, as I recall, we had already been to three other pastry shops that day, my boyfriend manfully eating his share of pastries so that I could try as many creations as I could, and with dinner reservations but an hour away, we settled on *just two* to carry away with us and eat with lip-smacking pleasure in one of Paris' ubiquitous little squares, pigeons at our feet, pedestrians strolling by, streetlights coming on in falling twilight, conversations in French all around us, Paris above us, around us, in us.

Sadly, this trip occurred before this blog was up to document it, but my Paris photoset is on Flickr, and there is Bea's rhapsodic entry about her encounter with Sadaharu-san.

I was inspired last week to replicate the two pastries we took away with us from the boutique: one, the famous Matcha Opera Cake, with layers of green tea genoise, chocolate ganache, and green tea buttercream. I believe Sadaharu Aoki's version also has coffee buttercream, but I preferred an emphasis on the clean, sharp taste of green tea with the rich, bittersweet chocolate to round it out. Making opera cake is both therapeutic and nervewracking for me: the components are not particularly difficult to make, but it's the skill in assembling the layers that determine whether you'll have nice parallel stripes of color or wavy layers. When it comes out well, it's always a heady rush of pleasure.

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The other item, a Yuzu Tart in a pâte sucrée crust with a sprinkling of praline on top. I first fell in love with this Japanese citrus at, appropriately, a Japanese spa where they used a yuzu-scented lotion. Assertively tangy, it is reminiscent of grapefruit with hints of mandarin orange, and can be used similarly to lemons in cooking. Yuzu fruit is fairly difficult to find in the U.S., but yuzu juice, fortunately, can be found in Japanese markets, and was used to make this smooth, delectable yuzu cream in the style of Pierre Herme's famous lemon cream.

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Alas, making these has only increased my appetite for Paris. I'm feeling the need for a return trip...

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Alas, reading your post has only increased my appetitie for Paris. I'm really looking forward to my trip in September!
Your pastry is awesome - gorgeous.

I too am planning a trip to Paris this fall. I will add this patisserie to my list of must-visit places!

I am going home for Christmas and I know where to go now! My list keeps growing everyday. I can't believe all the shops I did not know about or that were not there yet!

Oh muh God, that match cake looks divine. Excellent pictures by the way!

Anita, yours look as nice as Sadaharu! So well done! You "have" to share the recipes ;-) Otherwise you "need" to send some my way! Please please! You picked two of my favorites from what I tried in his pastry shops!

I drink green tea everyday. And yet I still can't get into it as a dessert. I have tried green tea ice cream, cupcakes and a tiramisu with it and it just didn't do it for me. Though I have to say I would give that a try.

Oh my! these look beautiful. And your photos are making me drool. :)

Hi anita, your matcha opera cake look so beautiful. I never manage to slice the cake into so thin and even slices. I have made matcha petit fours some time back, but yours really look fabulous. Care to share your recipe with me?
p/s: And your yuzu tart look so delectable!! =)

You know what would be so helpful? To let us all know how you manage those straight lines on your cakes...

Are you freezing the layers after spreading? Have you done this in a home kitchen?

Beautiful indeed.

Looks great! I too have trouble slicing cakes that cleanly. (I really love the birdie cup, too.)

The matcha opera cake sounds very good. I've never thought of including green tea in a cake or anything else that's sweet. Interesting.

wow this looks wonderful. You are truly talented!

Oh wow, what gorgeous pictures! Too pretty to eat!

Hi Tanna,
Thanks so much - and I'm very jealous of your upcoming trip! You will have to have lots of pastries for me!

Hi Renee,
Wow, is everyone making a trip to Paris! I think you will enjoy the store - of course you will, it's Paris!

Hi Helen,
*sigh* I'm envious of everyone commenting:) Isn't it great to discover new places in your hometown? I hope you have a great visit and eat lots of fabulous food!

hi Garrett,
Thanks so much! I was glad it turned out so well!

Hi Bea,
Thanks so much - glad to know you're a big fan of his too! If you want the recipe, I can send it your way - it's just a modification of a traditional opera cake.

Hi Peabody,
Green tea in solid food does taste different than in tea form. I think there are different types of matcha, some which might be less bitter, and you could always use less - I found a little bit matcha already made my cake green but I added more because I wanted the flavor.

Hi Kat,
Thank you! You must get to try his stuff in Japan, yes?

Hi Jacelyn,
Sure, if you'd like I could e-mail you the recipe - it's just a variation on an opera cake recipe, it's not Sadaharu's version. But I think it turned out pretty well!

Hi Shuna,
Thanks so much for the compliments! Yes, I made this at home - about the sixth time I've done opera cake at home and I learn more each time! I made the genoise the night before and kept it wrapped in the fridge so it was pretty firm (I think the matcha might have made it sturdier than normal so it baked pretty even and handled well). I didn't freeze the cake between layers, because the buttercream and ganache were spreading well, although I haven't tried that before! There were a few sections where it didn't come out completely even - they just weren't shown in the photo!

Hi Danielle,
Thank you - I love that little vase too! Every time I make opera cake it's a challenge to see how well I can cut it!

Hi Duane,
Green tea has become a really popular flavor in desserts in Asia - I think it's a different and interesting flavor!

Hi Jen,
Thanks so much! I'm glad it turned out so well this time!

Hi Dianka,
Aww, thank you! It did get eaten though - I love opera cake!

Exceptional, Anita. I especially like the lemon tart. Quite a pastry queen you are.

Another to-die-for-post Anita :O
What can one say that hasn't been said...? Except I shall certainly try that Yuzu Tart next time. I had the chocolate opera cake there-not as exciting as these. Why can't these places offer a "degustation" with little tiny bites, like when you go to a La Maison du Chocolat tasting class. That way you'd get to try EVERYTHING!!!

hi anita, just DIVINE! i'm an unabashed sada fan - matcha and yuzu and sesame anything, gimme, gimme, gimme! - but your lovely creations look as sublime as anything i've seen in his boutiques!

Hi anita... Ya, I would love the recipe. Can you send to me at jace722@hotmail.com? Thanks alot!

yes yes please, recipe pretty please ;-)

I love me some opera cake, but this looks....hubba,hubba,hubba, hubba, hot DAMN!

Hi Anita,

Could you please send me your recipe for the matcha cake? It looks really yummy!

Thank you.

I'm also impressed of the marriage of western pastry with traditional japanese flavours. Japanese are very clever and creative. Sadly there cookbooks are only available in french language.

Hi Lori,
Thank you! It's a compliment coming from you!

Hi Carol,
What a great idea! I was always wishing I could try everything in those pastry shops too! We should convince them of this idea!

Hi J,
Thanks for the compliment! I'm so glad (but not surprised) that you're a big fan of his too!

Hi Maura,
Thank you! I'm glad you like the twist on the opera cake!

Hi Tracy,
Sure - it's coming your way:)

Hi Latifa,
I've found a couple of books in both Japanese and French, but yes most of them are in Japanese only - a real shame. I guess I'll need to learn the language. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi ANita!!
I was personally drooling over your recipes and was thinking that it might be a good thing to try to attempt this weekend when I finally have some time off! Could I please get the recipes for your cakes? Pretty please with some matcha powder on top?

Hi there! My name is Gloria and I am a big fan of matcha cakes..... and then I came across your website. This cake looks suuuper delicious! Would you mind sharing the recipe for this delicious matcha opera cake? I would like to thank you in advance. And good luck with all your baking. =D I will look forward to your other wonderful cakes!

Hi Anita! I am a big fan of matcha cakes and I just bumped into your site. Your cake looks sooo delicious! I was wondering if you would mind sharing the recipe for this wonderful cake. Please email me the recipe if you don't mind. =) thank you so much

WOW that is a gorgeous cake. When i saw it, I instantly started salivating and called my friends attention over, so she too could go wow. Can I get a copy of that recipe too? Thanks for sharing!

That looks absolutely amazing.

I kindly request THAT recipe!

Hi,

Can you please email me the recipe for matcha opera cake & yuzu tart?

thanks.

hi, anita!
that matcha opera cake looks very yummy. i want try to make it. can u share the recipe to me? pleaseee.... thank i very much....

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