Folu Akinkuotu, sake kasu cake, and the one email you didn't know you needed
I used to think Google was my gateway to the universe. Then I met Folu Akinkuotu.
Boston-resident and founder of the #humblebragdiet, Folu has taken her enthusiasm for obscure, quirky snacks to a level far beyond what any SEO algorithm could produce. Her knack for discovering and describing snacks around the world is akin to walking down the aisles of a convenience store in an alternate universe, if that convenience store was run by Willy Wonka and that alternate universe allowed intercontinental teleportation any time you got the munchies.
Her weekly newsletter, Unsnackable, is a cheeky round up of snacks from around the world and is precisely the wanderlust rabbit hole I need in my Monday inbox before starting the week. The email delivers four perfectly perplexing snacks that I canNOT buy (versus the daily deluge of emails typically tap-dancing for my money). By the end of this five-minute read, I am giddy with enough child-like delight to face whatever curveballs this weird, are thrown at me that day.
Lucky for us, Folu's talents extend beyond finding Ukrainian poppyseed cheese curd candies and Estonian savory potato wafers. She is also an incredible baker. In 2018, she undertook the ambitious #ayearincakes project, baking 12 cakes in 12 months.
If you are imaging yellow cake with chocolate frosting, think again. One of our favorites—it's hard to pick a favorite— was her gløgg cake with mulled gewürztraminer cake, apricot caramel, honeycrisp sparkling wine jelly, cardamom blood orange buttercream filling AND a multicolor mulling spice buttercream. Yep. Uh huh. You read that right. Now imagine that 12 times.
So when we got our hands on some kasu—leftover fermented rice after sake is pressed—and learned it's a great baking ingredient, we knew there was only one woman who would make this unusual ingredient sing.
For The Koji Club's December Kit, we've partnered with Folu and Kato Sake Works to bring you something delicious and different for a holiday season unlike any other.
Kato Sake Works, a tiny sake brewery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, crafts some seriously good sake and, as a result, some deliciously fresh kasu.
We’ve put both in our December Kit so you can have your cake sake and eat it, too.
Sake Kasu Cake with Orange Blossom Sugar and Ginger Whipped Cream
Sake Kasu Cake
Cake Ingredients in order of use:
40 g sake kasu (All of what we give you!)
185 g warm water (105 Degrees F)
225 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter cool, but soft to the touch
8 g (2 tsp) Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt OR 8 g (1 tsp) of table salt
455 g (2 Packed Cups) Sugar, Granulated
4 ½ tsp baking powder
3 large eggs at room temperature
½ oz vanilla ( 1 tbsp)
230 g (1 Cup) heavy whipping cream brought to room temperature
455 g all purpose flour
Orange Blossom Sugar
2 tbsp large grained sugar (such as Demerara)
2-3 drops Orange Blossom Water (Cortas or similar brand)
Ginger Whipped Cream
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp honey
For the Orange Blossom Sugar...
Put the sugar into a ziploc bag or small sealable container
Add 2-3 drops of the Orange Blossom Water
Seal the bag/container and shake to incorporate, then set aside.
For Sake Kasu Cake...
Stir the sake kasu into the warm water until dissolved, scraping/smooshing the kasu against the side of the bowl to dissolve clumps until just small rice grains remain. Use a fine mesh sieve to strain remaining rice grains out of the dissolved kasu liquid and keep the sake kasu rice grains for later. Put the dissolved kasu into the fridge to cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 8 ½ inch x 4 ½ inch loaf pan by greasing it, and lining it with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom of the pan and hang over the width of the pan. The recipe yields 2 loaves of cake, but if you do not have two pans the batter can be left at room temperature while the cake bakes.
Prepare a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the butter to the bowl, followed by the salt, sugar, and baking powder. Start on low to bring all the ingredients together, then increase the speed slowly. Pause after 2 minutes of mixing at medium speed to use a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The mixture should become lighter in color and fluffy after about 5 minutes.
With the mixer on medium, incorporate the eggs one at a time. Wait until each egg has been fully mixed into the batter before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then turn on the mixer and add the vanilla slowly. NOTE: WOW THIS PART IS BEAUTIFUL. That sounds dorky but really… the way the mixture changes is so fun to watch.
Combine the heavy cream and the dissolved kasu into a small, pourable cup or bowl and stir until both liquids are evenly incorporated. Try your best not to drink any kasu cream... we dare you to not drink any *wink*
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add ⅓ of the flour then mix, followed by ⅓ of the kasu and cream mixture and repeat until both ingredients have been fully added to the batter. Add the reserved kasu rice grains. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix the batter on medium for 3 seconds.
Add half of the batter to the prepared loaf pan. By weight it will be about 844 g of batter. Alyssa ate too much batter and hers weighed out to be 809 g per loaf.
Sprinkle approximately half of the orange blossom sugar onto the batter in the pan.
Bake until risen and golden brown, about 1 hour. Use a toothpick to check for doneness, if inserted into the cake and it comes out clean, the cake is done.
Before baking the second loaf, let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes in the pan before moving it to a cooling rack.
For Ginger Honey Whipped Cream...
Add honey to chilled cream and whip until soft peaks form
Add ground ginger to soft cream and whip until stiff peaks form.
Set aside until cake is cooled and ready to serve
(Adapted from Bravetart’s Classic Vanilla Butter Cake)