Strawberry shortcake served on a floral plate

A Guide to Japanese Christmas Cake

15th December, 2021

The Japanese Christmas cake is a layered spongy cake, filled with fresh whipping cream and strawberry slices in between layers, often referred to as strawberry shortcake. The cake is finished with a whipped cream frosting and decorated with strawberries, chocolate, or other seasonal fruits.

This blogpost will guide chefs through the cake’s history within Japanese Christmas culture, how to make the cake and reveal alternative cakes consumed during the festive season in Japan.

The Japanese Tradition

Eaten traditionally on Christmas Eve, the cake, adapted from Western culture, was first introduced in Yokohama during the Meiji period in 1910. It was seen as a luxury product only available to the wealthy due to milk, sugar, butter, and strawberries being a rarity.

However, it wasn’t until after the Second World War, in the 1950s that the cake started gaining traction. Re-introduced by the Japanese upper-class during the country’s Westernisation wave, the cake represented commercialism and prosperity for the Japanese.

This secular symbol of celebration only arose after decades of media promotions that portrayed Christmas as a stylish and romantic event. The colour and shape of the cake are also very symbolic as the cake’s red and white colours are reminiscent of the Japanese flag.

Japanese Christmas Cake Recipe

The Japanese Christmas cake recipe is very simple, with a handful of ingredients widely available. The preparation process, however, is lengthy and involves many processes.

It’s important to follow each step to ensure the cake comes out just perfect. For example, having the right amount of sponginess, without being too soft or hard, as well as having the right amount of sweetness without being too sweet that it overpowers the whipped cream flavour and strawberry tartness.

To view the recipe, click here. Just an additional tip, it would be great to include a short historic description when serving the cake in your restaurant, so people can learn about its rich heritage and symbolism in Japanese culture.

Alternative Christmas Cakes

Although the strawberry shortcake is the ultimate Christmas cake in Japan, there are a selection of other traditional European cakes that are starting to gain popularity in Japan.

The German Stollen, French Yule log and Italian Panettone are just a few of the cakes that are also widely consumed in Japan during Christmas.

Now that you understand the culture and meaning behind eating the fluffy strawberry shortcake on Christmas, create this dessert for your restaurant and let customers appreciate the symbolic meaning the dessert maintains in Japan.

Learn more about Honteri, the chef’s secret weapon used to bring a unique flavour in the cake and sign up to our newsletter for all the latest news and updates within the Japanese foodservice industry.