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Is Siberia cake popular in modern Japan?

Have you ever heard of Japanese Siberia (シベリア)? It is a remarkable old-fashioned cake that shares the same name with the terribly cold part of Russia. Strictly speaking it is not a cake; in Japanese it is called sweet bread (kashi pan). In early Showa era, approximately between 1926 and 1960, Siberia cake was the most wanted dessert among kids. Then it gave way to more elaborate, European-style cakes.

Some people say Siberia cake got popular again after Hayao Miyazaki depicted it in his anime “The wind rises”. Personally I haven’t seen much of a Siberia revival, but older Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kawasaki bakeries have been reporting the increased sales of this nostalgic cake.Siberia cakeSiberia cake has one, two, or three layers of bean jelly, sandwiched between two, three, or four slices of castella respectively. One version says that it resembled Siberian railway and the frozen ground between the rails, or possibly a train.  The color of jelly may vary from dark red to brown, and even green. It was first made in the second part of the Meiji era. In Taisho era Siberia resembled a layer cake served in a glass. The jelly could also be white or black.I bought mine at Daimaru Peacock supermarket for about 100 yen, and it is called Sankaku Siberia (Triangle Siberia).Siberia cakeIt was made by a major bread company Yamazaki. Does that mean Siberia cake can also be cut into squares or rectangles? I’ve never seen such a variation. Siberia cake made in Chubu region is conveniently bite-sized. That must be a good option for dieters, as even a medium-sized piece of this cake is a high calorie snack.Siberia cake

Article by Olga Kaneda

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