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pop-up bakery next Saturday!

August 1, 2016

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I am happy to announce the August edition of kawaii kitchen pop-up bakery! ^_^ Find your favorite cupcakes at Lindener Market in Hanover next Saturday – drop by for some:

Matcha Cupcakes
Blueberry Hazelnut Cupcakes
Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes
Mango Basil Cupcakes
and the most crumbly, delicious brown “butter” peach shortbread. With lots of streusel!

All baked with lots of love and 100% plant-based ingredients, as usual 🙂

facebook event here – the exact location where to find your cupcake will be posted here 😉


Celebrating summer – Rhubarb Guglhupf with Ginger Icing

June 22, 2016

rhubarb gugl 06About one year ago, I graduated from my Bachelor’s program. Guess what the first thing I did afterwards was – yep, you’re right: it was baking. After all these long days in the lab, baking without time pressure and smelling and tasting freshly harvested ingredients again was so fulfilling!

At the farmer’s market, I had found some of that year’s first rhubarb, so I made a rhubarb cake for welcoming summer. Drizzled with a ginger-spiced icing on top, this “Guglhupf” is sweet, sour and fruity with a little refreshing spiciness – the perfect accompaniment for a morning coffee or afternoon lemonade on a sunny summer day.

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By now, I’ve gotten used to spending long days in the lab and managing to squeeze in some time for baking in between. Nevertheless, my “to bake-list” has been growing on and on. This cake is also on the list, and even though I baked it just recently, I certainly want to make again soon, before rhubarb season is over. For celebrating and enjoying summer in all its beautiful and delicious facets, and you should do that, too! 🙂

Rhubarb Guglhupf with Ginger Icing (adapted from “Vegan for Fun” by Attila Hildmann) || vegan
makes one small Guglhupf (about 18 cm diameter) 
350g rhubarb (should make ~275g when cleaned & peeled)
50g granulated sugar
1 pckg. (300 mL) rice whipping cream, chilled (eg. Soyatoo)
300g all-purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 tbsp. starch
200g raw cane sugar
70 mL soy milk
125g vegan butter, molten + a little more for greasing the cake pan
2-3 tbsps. fine breadcrumbs for coating the cake pan
75g + 75g powdered sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 tsps. ginger,  grated
optional: a few drops of (natural) red food coloring, I like to use red beet juice
  • Clean and peel rhubarb. Cut into ~1cm long pieces. Put into a saucepan together with 50g granulated sugar and bring to a simmer on medium heat while stirring continuosly. When the rhubarb has softened, set aside to let the compote cool down.
  • Preheat oven to 170ÂșC. Grease a 18cm guglhupf (or bundt cake) pan with vegan butter, then coat with breadcrumbs.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and starch.
  • In another bowl, combine molten vegan butter and soy milk.
  • Whip cold rice cream in a large bowl. After one or two minutes of whipping, start adding raw cane sugar gradually while continue beating until stiff.
  • Add a few tbsps. of the dry ingredients, fold in, then a heap of the liquid ingredients and fold in, as well. Continue folding in dry & wet ingredients alternatingly, and make sure not to overmix the batter. When the dough is all combined, add rhubarb compote and distribute just very roughly with a few streaks.
  • Fill batter into the prepared cake pan and bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. If necessary, cover with aluminium foil after ~30min to prevent too much browning of the surface.
  • Test with a wooden skewer if the cake is done and if yes, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes on a wire cooling rack before carefully (!) turning the pan upside down to remove the cake from its pan.
  • For the icing, combine 75g powdered sugar with 1 tsp. lemon juice and (if desired) a few drops of red food coloring. Add just enough water to make a thick icing. In a second bowl, combine 75g of powdered sugar with 1 tsp. grated ginger and also just enough water to make a thick icing. Taste and if desired, add more of the ginger.
  • Drizzle white icing on top of the cake, then the pink icing on top. Let cool completely before cutting into slices. Enjoy!

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Announcement: kawaii kitchen pop-up bakery vol. 5

May 24, 2016


As part of a (belated) restaurant day, kawaii kitchen is hosting its 5th pop-up bakery at Lindener Markt, Hannover this Saturday starting at 8 a.m.! This time there will be:

Rhubarb-filled Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
Mango & Vanilla Cupcakes
Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes

and additionally: the most delicious, crumbly & sweet mini pecan pies

As always, all baked goods are 100% vegan and made with lots of love!
So come along, have a bite and enjoy 🙂

Find the Facebook event here

Apple crumble cake

March 21, 2016

apple crumble cake 04

Spring is slowly approaching, even here in Berlin. In between grey and rainy days there are glimpses of the earliest colorful flowers detectable as well as the warmth of the first few sunny afternoons. With the fading grey, a new spirit of life also seems to return, which makes me kinda happy and feel alive again!

My past winter has been a bit stressful and due to the lack of sunshine also depressing – something I still haven’t overcome ever since moving to Germany (although in general I am very happy to be here!). For brightening up that gloomy mood, I baked apple cake a lot during the past months. Even though there was not too much time for baking left next to lab & uni, this cake appeared on our flat share’s kitchen table more than a few times – and disappeared quite quickly again, as well.

This cake is very easy to make and still so satisfying – a yummy, crumbly treat filled with juicy apples. It is a very nice option to use up the last of the season’s apples, or simply to bring color into another rainy day as long as we’re still waiting for summer!

Apple crumble cake
makes a 28cm diameter cake || adapted from here
1 small, not too ripe banana
350g all-purpose flour
200g vegan butter, cold
100g + 2 tbsps. granulated sugar
8-10 apples, depending on the size
4 tbsps. water
1-2 tsps. ground cinnamon
  • Clean the apples and cut them into pieces. Mix them with water, 2 tbsps. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and cook them into a compote on low to medium heat. Try and if desired, add more cinnamon to taste.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.
  • Mash the banana with a fork and set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, 100g sugar and vegan butter. Add mashed banana and knead until just combined. Do not overknead, otherwise the batter might get too firm.
  • Line a 28cm diameter cake pan with baking paper. Roll out approximately 1/3 of the dough or simply press into the pan, forming a crust surrounded by a 2-3 cm edge.
  • Fill the apple compote into the cake crust and crumble remaining dough on top.
  • Bake in preheated oven for around 20 minutes or until crumbs start to get golden brown.

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Valentine’s day cupcakes: Red velvet with a sweet coconut frosting

February 13, 2016

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Ever since the hype around red velvet cakes came up (a looong time ago), I had been intrigued to try them out. The fact that every recipe used huge amounts of food coloring made the whole thing a little less appealing to me though. Nevertheless, I gave one of the chocolate versions a first try a couple of years ago – and was super disappointed. I had expected a sophisticated, velvet-y taste, but all that recipe I tried resulted in was a kind of bland chocolate cake in a slightly red-brownish shade.

As I always try to use mostly natural ingredients, I did not further pursue in that direction of red velvet cakes. Instead, when I had a beet lying around last week, I decided to give natural food coloring a shot. The first round of cupcakes turned out to be a little bit too juicy, but after some adaptions, the second batch were very nice – bright red, oh so velvet-y cake consistency and tasting satisfyingly good. For this recipe I tried some rather unusual flavor combination: passion fruits, which compliment the earthy tastes of the beet perfectly with their slightly tangy and floral taste. Also, as these are supposed to be a Valentine’s treat, passion is hopefully not misplaced for this occasion 🙂

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If you are happy to have someone to give a present to on Valentine’s Day, these cupcakes are a nice option. Or just make them for yourself, your flatmates, your friends … and enjoy them along with your favorite hot beverage. My current favorite (and recommendation) is matcha latte made with almond rice drink, which fits perfectly to these fruity, yummy cupcakes 🙂

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Red velvet passion fruit & beet cupcakes with coconut frosting
makes 12 cupcakes
Ingredients for the cupcakes:
125 g granulated sugar
125 g vegan butter
180 g red beet, cooked
80 g apple
2 small or 1 large passion fruit
220 g all-purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
120 mL passion fruit juice
  • Bring vegan butter to room temperature and preheat the oven to 165 degrees C/330 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
  • Puree red beet and apple. Add passion fruit and set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whip vegan butter and sugar until creamy. Add all the other ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Divide batter between the paper liners and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
Ingredients for the frosting:
125 mL coconut rice milk
20 g starch
40 g granulated sugar
150 g vegan butter
50 g coconut oil
35 g powdered sugar
optional: shredded coconut, some more powdered sugar and a few drops of red beet juice
  • Combine starch, granulated sugar and 3-4 tbsps. or the coconut rice milk in a small bowl, mix with a spoon until smoothly combined.
  • Heat the remaining coconut rice milk in a saucepan until steaming hot (but not boiling!).
  • Stir in the starch-sugar mixture with a whisk, make sure to whisk continuously while adding the mix (otherwise it might stick to the bottom of the saucepan and burn).
  • Continue heating the mix in the saucepan, stirring until it thickens and becomes what we call a “pudding” here in Germany. Remove from the heat, set aside and let cool completely.
  • In the meantime, bring vegan butter and coconut oil to room temperature. The coconut oil should not become liquid! (If so, put into the redfridgerator until soft, but solid.)
  • (If desired, you could also prepare your pink coconut shreds for decoration now:
    combine 2-3 tbsps of coconut shreds with 2-3 tsps. of powdered sugar and a few drops of red beet juice. Mix and add more of the juice depending on the color you want your decoration to have.)
  • When the “pudding” has cooled completely, put vegan butter and coconut oil into a medium-sized bowl and whip with a handmixer on high speed until all smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and whip again until combined.
  • Next, add the coconut “pudding” one spoon at a time – add one spoon, mix until combined and only then add the next spoonful.
  • You might not need to add all of the pudding, depending on how strong you want the coconut flavor to be – just try and decide for yourself.
  • When the frosting is ready, pipe or spread it on top of your cooled cupcakes and decorate with some coconut shreds, if desired.

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Feel good food: pumpkin soup

January 11, 2016

When I was in 8 or 9 years old, I attended a cooking club at school. One afternoon, we made a delicious, German-style potato soup and I brought home the recipe. As I really liked that soup, my mother started to re-cook this potato soup for my brother and me every now and then. The soup turned out to be a little different each time, depending on what kind of vegetables were available here in Japan and which selection and balance of spices my mother felt like using that day – but delicious it was, always.

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Recently, I started making pumpkin soup on a frequent basis, and like my mother’s potato soup it turns out to be slightly different each time. According to my flatmates, it’s always tasty nevertheless and to me, the soup is comforting feel-good food every time. Although the ingredients can be varied depending on your taste and what you have on hand, the preparation method is always more or less the same, therefore I would like to share the basic recipe with you.

pumpkin soup - 02

Note: amounts of ingredients are approximate and can be varied according to taste or availability, optional ingredients may be but do not need to be included.

Pumpkin soup
makes one pot of soup
1 large or two small squashes (I like to use hokkaido pumpkin or butternut squash, but feel free to use whatever edible squash you like!)
1-2 onions
celery: either a good piece (200g?) of celery root or 2-3 stalks
1 stalk of leek
2 carrots
parsley or parsley root
up to 1 L oat milk
a piece of ginger, ground or finely chopped
salt, chile flakes, nutmeg
2-3 tbsps. vegetable oil or vegan butter (I always use)optional: cubed potatoes, an apple, pinch of cinnamon, white wine, ground coriander, ground cumin, curry spice mix

toppings: pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil

  • Chop all the vegetables roughly.
  • Heat oil and/or vegan butter in a large pot.
  • Put chopped vegetables into the hot oil and let fry while stirring continuously for up to 10 minutes.
  • If using white wine, deglaze the vegetables with a good dash of the wine, if not, continue with next step:
  • Fill up with desired amount of oat milk and water until all of the vegetables are covered.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for around 20-30 minutes with closed lid, until all of the vegetable cubes are tender.
  • In the meantime, peel the ginger and grate or chop very finely. Add ginger at the end of the cooking time and stir until combined.
  • Puree the soup and season with salt, chile flakes and nutmeg. If desired, add additional spices like ground coriander, cumin or curry.
  • Serve topped with pumpkin seeds and a splash of pumpkin seed oil and enjoy!

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How to survive as a vegan in Japan

January 2, 2016

This christmas break I spent at my family’s in Japan. Already months before I arrived, they started to worry what I would be able to eat – A: because that’s what they always do, make a huge effort to let me eat all the most delicious things they can find (^-^ lucky me!) – and B: because this was my first time as a vegan coming home to Japan.

Although japanese cuisine includes a lot of vegetables, nearly everything contains dashi, fish based broth. Konbu dashi, based on seaweeds, is also available, but most of the time, katsuo or other fish-based dashi is used. So basically, as my step-mother jokingly suggested, if you want to survive as a vegan in Japan, the easiest way would be to quit veganism – but that was not an option for me. And after spending two weeks here by now, I figured out that it is also possible not to starve as a vegan in the Tokyo/Yokohama area, even though you need to read ingredient lists very carefully. As there are not so many guides about japanese everyday vegan nutrition in English available yet (especially for Yokohama), I thought I’d sum up my experience and tips in this blog post.

Japanese foods that should be “animal-free” in general are

  • a couple of tofu dishes: for example tofu topped with grated ginger, leeks and shoyu, or yudofu (cooked tofu, I ordered it cooked with vegetables only and in vegetable broth, they probably used konbu dashi)
  • some mochi dishes: Yakimochi (Mochi grilled with nori = sea weeds and served with shoyu), Odango (mochi balls available in different varations, eg. topped with sweet bean paste or a sweet soy sauce glaze)
  • several otsumami (snacks served along with drinks): tsukemono (pickled or fermented vegetables), hiyashi tomato (cooled tomato) if eaten with salt and without mayonnaise, morokyu (kyuri = cucumber, with miso) and edamame
  • a few traditional sweets: yakiimo (baked sweet potato – delicious!), kurikinton (a paste of sweet chestnuts), youkan (sweet bean paste available in different variations for example with green tea), other sweet bean paste desserts

Vegan restaurants in Tokyo/Yokohama

There are already a couple of very nice guides for vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Japan, for example here and on Happy Cow, so I do not want to repeat everything, there is just one addition, which is Natural Harmony Coa in Yokohama.

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Curry lunch plate (vegan) at Natural Harmony Coa

Located in the basement of the North Port Shopping Center in Center Kita, Tsuzuki-ku, this small restaurant serves organic washoku (japanese dish) style food of high quality. Their menu always varies a little bit, depending on the ingredients available, but they always offer several vegan menus and also some fish or meat menus. I went there twice with my family, and as they’re omnivores it was the perfect place to go to, where vegans as well as non-vegans can get super delicious food.

Eating in “standard” japanese restaurants

A few general tips:

  • miso shiru (miso soup) and all kinds of sauces and soups are mostly made with fish broth (katsuo dashi or other fish-based dashi), be careful with those.
  • if in doubt: ask! Ask whether the dish contains any kinds of “doubutsu kei” (animal derived) things, for example dashi

Noodle restaurants (soba or udon): ordering with daikon oroshi and shoyu (grated radish and soy sauce) or shoyu and wasabi instead of the normal sauces is a very tasty option as the standard sauces usually contain fish broth. For ramen, there are a few restaurants serving vegan ramen, for example T’s Tantan and Kyushu Jangara in Harajuku/Omotesando.

Sushi restaurants: aside from kappa maki (cucumber rolls) and inari sushi (fried tofu bags filled with rice), several sushi restaurants also offer kampyo (a kind of gourd, called “calabash”), ume shiso (sour plum with shiso, a herb) maki, oshinko maki (oshinko refers to all fermented vegetables but for sushi, usually takuan, fermented radish is served), and once I even found nigiri with nasu no tsukemono (fermented eggplant). So at sushi restaurants vegans can find quite a selection of vegetable based traditional sushi and as these are not considered the sushi specialties, they’re most often rather cheap.

Yakiniku (Korean BBQ) restaurants are certainly not the best choice to go to for a vegan, but if you happen to be accompanied by omnivores like me, it is also possible to eat vegan there. Usually they offer “namuru” (korean  pickled roots and vegetables) and different vegetables you can put on the grill. As the tare (sauce) with which the vegetables were seasoned contained some animal-derived products, we simply ordered them separately and they were so kind to even offer me some vegan dipping sauce options (shoyu and wasabi as well as shiodare, sesame oil with salt). I also ate bibimbap without meat and egg, basically rice topped with namuru, nori (sea weeds) and gochujyang (korean spicy seasoning paste) which was also quite delicious as a vegan version.

Eating on the go & grocery shopping

Eating on the go a.k.a. buying something from the convenience store is rather tricky in Japan. Sandwiches and baked goods more or less always contain dairy or meat/fish products, and japanese snacks like onigiri are filled with fish most oftenly. Sometimes you can get onigiri with konbu filling, but be careful and check the ingredient list (scroll down for a short kanji guide) as the filling might contain katsuo dashi or other fish-derived ingredients. Another option can be inari sushi, if they’re available. For drinks it is a little bit easier as you can always find different teas and also plain coffee, and I even spotted matcha soy latte from the muji brand in some family marts, but for sure those cannot be found in every single convini.

Grocery shopping can also be quite complicated in Japan when it comes to vegan specialty products. There are several soy products which contain animal-derived ingredients unexpectedly (like gelatin in soy yogurt), so be careful to check ingredient lists here as well! Two products I’ve checked and have been buying frequently are this soy milk and soy yogurt:

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Vegan to-nyu-gurt (soy yogurt) and to-nyu (soy milk)

For soy milk, most supermarkets offer quite a big selection, although I have not tried a lot of those products yet.

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Soy milk drink selection at a supermarket

All in all, grocery shopping for the basic foods in the Tokyo/Yokohama area is possible, just make sure to always check the ingredient lists.

For foreigners who cannot read kanji very well, I made a short, very basic list of what to avoid:

肉 niku – meat
牛 gyu – beef
豚 buta – pork
éł„ tori – poultry
牛äčł gyu-nyu – milk
魚 sakana – fish, also avoid every kanji that involves the sakana-hen, the left part being the sakana sign (for example like é°č katsuo = bonito), as these kanji usually are names of specific fishes.

Hope this helps vegans when travelling in Japan. All in all it is possible to eat delicious food, also traditional dishes, if taking a little care and if in doubt – asking. (You might get some funny looks, as vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is not as common as in western countries yet, but they’ll probably forgive anyone that looks foreign :)).

Have a happy new year and lots of delicious food in 2016! 🙂

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