Kumquat Bonanza

21 June 2006

A couple of weeks ago, an auspicious-looking parcel arrived from Singapore – I knew straight away that it was from Joycelyn of Kuidaore, who makes the most exquisite food, with equally elegant writing. The package was thoughtfully packed full of wonderful goodies – and there was a lovely smell which turned out to be some fresh kumquats. She was anxious about how well they would travel but they arrived in perfect condition and I wasted no time in putting them to use.

Kumquats are a common ingredient in South-East Asia, but we hardly see them here in the UK. Their tangy, slightly bitter flavour is quite distinctive – I never thought about it before, but just realised that they taste similar to Seville oranges which also have thick skin and lots of seeds. I searched for recipes with kumquats, but many of them are for preserves and I wanted to make something more interesting…

I got the idea of this dessert from one of Sadaharu Aoki‘s cakes – of course mine doesn’t look as sophisticated as his, but tastewise I was really happy with how it turned out. I remember I tried the cake a couple of years ago and it was called Valencia – orange and chocolate/praline mousse cake with chocolate sponge and dacquoise as base. I was going to recreate it with kumquats, but then another recipe from one of my old Japanese books caught my eye – which seemed lighter in flavour and perhaps a better complement to the kumquats – so decided to go with the latter recipe but with Sada in mind :)

It’s earl grey tea flavoured mousse cake – in the original recipe, plum compote is added to the tea mousse but I added finely chopped candied kumquats instead (Joycelyn kindly included her home-made candied kumquat in vanilla syrup, it looked, smelt and tasted gorgeous!) I made almond sponge as a base, and meringue with kumquat zest on top (sprinkle some icing sugar and caramelise with a blow torch just before serving). For the caramel ‘plate’, I oven-dried thinly sliced kumquats and swirled over caramel (you could use caramel with more colour but I think the clear caramel looks nicer on this cake).

I wasn’t really sure until I tasted the finished result, but it was lovely – the citrus flavour from both the earl grey and kumquats work beautifully – a very summery, refreshing dessert. I served it with custard sauce (again, with some kumquat zest) and it was a nice finishing touch too. You need to infuse the tea quite strongly, but don’t brew too long as it gets bitter.

Next are the tarts – I found the recipe in Christine Manfield’s Desserts – it was originally lemon curd tarts with lemon confit, but instead of lemon, I used the lovely candied kumquats that Joycelyn made. I must admit that I’m not really a tart person normally, but I enjoy making and tasting them occasionally. I also liked the look of the blueberry tarts in The Last Course by Claudia Fleming, also made in financier moulds – as did Anita :)

The pastry dough has kumquat zest as well as juice, I actually loved eating ‘the base’ as it came out from the oven :) For the curd, it was a bit tedious to squeeze all the juice as you can imagine (they are tiny and haven’t got much juice in them) but it was all worth it – rich yet refreshing curd topped with lovely candied kumquats, sprinkled with finely chopped pistachios – I also made pistachio ice-cream and served it with the tart – yum!

And last but not least – I found the recipe in one of Hironobu Tsujiguchi’s books – he is a popular patissier in Japan, and as I’ve mentioned before, he is good at creating ‘East meets West’ type recipes (his grandfather and father owned a traditional Japanese sweet shop).

I could use the candied kumquats in this dessert also – they are enclosed in puff pastry, with azuki bean paste and almond cream, then bake the whole ‘parcel’. I hoped it was going to work well and although I wasn’t entirely happy aesthetically, it was delicious and I think it’s an excellent combination of different influences.

By the way, I always try to make puff pastry myself as it has a much more flavour than the store-bought variety, but I simply didn’t have time and had to buy some. Although it tasted OK, I think I’m going to make the effort next time :)

So, my kumquat experiments turned out well and sincere thanks again to Joycelyn, for making me feel a little less homesick…


Food - Sweet        51 comments    Permalink

  • oh my gosh!! all of these look so delicate and wonderful! :)

    Posted by Kat | 21 June 2006 #
  • Keiko,

    So tempting photos .. I realize I had never done one dessert with Kumquat yet.

    Financier shape is amazing for your kumquat curd tart. A real good idea. It will be mine next...

    Posted by Gamelle | 21 June 2006 #
  • Amazing. I love all of these creations... they would go so well with a lavender and kumquat tea I have somewhere in the dark depths of my cupboard.

    Posted by deborah | 21 June 2006 #
  • The first photo is beautiful; like stained-glass with suspended fruit.

    I love the idea of layering citrus flavour with the Earl Grey and kumquats in different presentations.

    Posted by Maria | 21 June 2006 #
  • hi keiko, how incredibly exquisite and delicious all three creations look! i especially love the fabulous nod-to-sada confection - if you ask me, i think it looks lovelier than the original :) i had a good giggle over the thought of you patiently extracting every drop of juice from those reluctant kumquats - how heavenly the final curd must have tasted...it looks so silken and voluptuous! now, if only the final plated desserts could travel as well as the raw ingredients ;) my imagination is going into overdrive right now thinking about how all the different elements must work so gorgeously together

    Posted by Joycelyn | 21 June 2006 #
  • Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I study your postings to see how I can learn from your preperations, resentations, and amazing photography (the famous three "Ps"). I’m not even a fan of kumquats (They grow like weeds here in Los Angeles) but this page makes me want to play with some recipes. Thanks for the inspirations!

    Posted by Kevin | 21 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    You have reminded me of my grandparents house in Melbourne. They had a huge kumquat tree int he front yard that was always full of kumquats when in season. We used to eat them (love the bitter sour taste) but I never recall my grandmother ever cooking with them (mind you she wasn’t known for her cooking! How many people say that about their grandmother?!). I wish that she still lived there (and I was in Melbourne) so that I could cook with them.

    Your cake looks fabulous.

    Posted by Crazy Gaijin (Lucas) | 21 June 2006 #
  • Hi again and wow. My experience with kumquat has never extended beyond the dried and preserved ones that I grew up eating. Your creations are scrumptious. I especially like the tarts. :)

    The first time i visited I said that I was going to try and make your Green Tea Opera Cake. Sad to say it ended up being a green tea sponge cake instead but with everything else. It was still good though! I’m glad I came across your foodblog, thank you for inspiring me with your great photos and ideas. (p/s: not that I’m trying to show off, but if you’re interested I posted a photo of the cake we ended up making on my blog.)

    Posted by ilingc | 21 June 2006 #
  • Too beautiful for words, Keiko. Excellent job! Now i know what’s been keeping you busy of late.

    Posted by mae | 21 June 2006 #
  • well, I guess that now kumquat will make a hit all over the world:) It’s really magic what you out of food and passion!!!!

    Posted by gagatka | 21 June 2006 #
  • Hi Dear Keiko,

    I envy you because of this blog. Because of these delicate details...

    One question: Would you like to share the exact recipes of your beautiful creations or you will just inform us about their sources.

    (that would be personal to say I know, but I cannot afford buying all these books- in future YES).

    Loves, Basak

    Posted by Basak | 21 June 2006 #
  • Pics looks absolutely mouth-watering. I’ve only tried making marmalade out of kumquats. You have taken this to a completely different level.

    Posted by Krithika | 21 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko, I love how you take a single ingredient and come up with so many beautiful and imaginative ways to showcase it. I haven’t eaten kumquats in years, and now all I want to do is track some down and make desserts like these! Inspirational, as always.

    Posted by melissa | 21 June 2006 #
  • I used to eat kumquats often when we had a tree but now we don’t anymore i don’t buy them often.

    I can only agree with Melissa as you really outline the ’gorgeousness’ of kumquats with these three recipes.

    I’d love to make the tarts and mousse. They look so good.



    Posted by fanny | 21 June 2006 #
  • Simply fantastic ! aie aie aie !

    Posted by mercotte | 21 June 2006 #
  • Keiko,

    Your creativity and talent are as usual astounding. I especially like how you created the first dessert - it sounds so exotic and tasty! And, of course, I love the little tarts:)

    Posted by Anita | 21 June 2006 #
  • It looks really delicious! And the pictures are so nice.

    Posted by French sunday morning | 21 June 2006 #
  • Exquisite.

    Posted by Kate | 21 June 2006 #
  • excellent keiko :) ciao

    Posted by fiordizucca | 21 June 2006 #
  • Keiko,I never know what to do first when I visit your blog - pictures or text?? It is all so lovely - the descriptions, the gentle approach you take to preparing everything, the amazing end result.

    I do mot think that I have ever eaten kumquats so I quite liked the comparison with seville oranges as it gave me something to compare to.

    Posted by Valentina | 22 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Iam not really a kumquat fan especially when it comes to eating them fresh. Although I do like them when they come in a form of dessert.The cake that you make was really outstanding! I would never though of combining earl grey tea and kumquats together, Iam really curious about the combination. Your cake looks just like the one Sadaharu Aoki, it looks so nice or even nicer than the one of Sada should I say.The Valencia cake of Sada is one of his best seller I think, I haven’t try it but I think the cake was pretty complicated which includes dacquoise, dark chocolate mousse, pailette feuilletine layer, chocolate almond sponge, and an orange mousse layer which has orange cognac in it. I personally like the creations of Sada aside from my all time favorite PH. By the way, the tarts also looks so fabulous and Iam a big fan of tarts. The last dessert that you had is so interesting with red bean paste and kumquat as a combination. How I wish that I could try them all.Thanks.

    Posted by Cathy | 22 June 2006 #
  • This is lovely! I am so glad I wandered onto your blog. I clicked over here because I am trying to favor blogs whose names I don’t understand.

    Posted by the chocolate lady | 22 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko

    Oh my-- what a treat. I’m intrigued by kumquats--I’ve seen them in my grocer’s from time to time, but wasn’t sure what to do with them.

    Next time I see them, I’ll have a better idea. Thanks!


    Posted by Jasmine | 22 June 2006 #
  • Hello,Keiko-san


    I love your photographs!

    By the way,it’s in a rainy season in Japan・・・・


    Posted by seiko | 23 June 2006 #
  • Hey Keiko. Did you know that Kumquat is Ralph’s favorite fruit?! After all, he never gets to beg anyone for them, they just drop on the floor in his garden naturally (kind of like an occasional treat). Your creations all look scrumptious; I would definitely have a hard time choosing which one to eat first.Cenk

    Posted by Cenk | 23 June 2006 #
  • I love the picture of the cake! It looks so enticing. I have to get one of Sadaharu Aoki’s books. Thanks for sharing.

    ps: Kumquats and scallops make a delicious combination too.

    Posted by LPC | 23 June 2006 #
  • thank you for another gorgeous post!

    Posted by kishko | 23 June 2006 #
  • Beautiful creation!

    I used to eat the whole kumquats, quite found of the crunchy bitter skin with sweet-sour flesh (actually more of the sour taste usually). suppose to be packed with anti-oxidants (ie healthy food). if you like something that taste like cross between orange & kumquats, checkout the thailand green mandarins

    Posted by slurp! | 23 June 2006 #
  • Hi there, thank you for all your kind notes.

    Deborah - hope you found the tea and enjoyed it :)

    Joycelyn - thanks again for your kind thoughts, it made my week ;)

    Kevin - I didn’t know they’re so abundant in LA - hope I’ve helped you to enjoy them more :)

    CG - thanks for letting me know your name ;) Your story made me feel nostalgic too, hope you’ll be able to visit the place again...

    Ilingc - your green tea cake looked beautiful! I’m glad you enjoyed it, I’ll try to post more matcha recipes some time.

    Mae - actually these three desserts together were easier than some of the cakes I make - thanks to Joycelyn for sending the lovely candied kumquats!

    Basak - I bought Christine Manfield’s book much cheaper last year, you should check amazon often, they might have some in stock in the future. As for the Japanese books, I’m sorry but I just haven’t got time to translate them all right now, I’ll try when I can!

    Fanny - I guess you can grow kumquat trees in the south of France...

    Valentina - I didn’t think about it before, but then suddenly thought ’aren’t they similar?’ :)

    Cathy - I wasn’t sure about the combination until I tried it, but it was lovely. I hope you can try it some time too. I didn’t know the Sada cake was that popular, could I ask you one thing? I’d be grateful if you could tell me what pailette feuilletine is :)

    Chocolate lady - I’m lucky to have you as a visitor :)

    Jasmine - I’m sure you can substitute it for orange/lemon recipes.

    Seiko-san - thank you for your kind note, hope you’re surviving the rainy season (which I hated...)

    Cenk - oh you must take a photo of Ralph enjoying the treats :) Send him hugs from me!

    LPC - Sadaharu Aoki hasn’t got any books yet! Kumquats & scallops sound great!

    Slurp - hope you’re feeling better now. I’ve never seen Thai green mandarins, are they small like kumquats? I’d like to try them some time...

    Posted by keiko | 23 June 2006 #
  • i had kumquat when i was in UK will email you will ask my gardener friend...just so busy Keiko

    I cook almost daily but hardly no time to do desserts but since am blessed with good pastry shops in the area then i just indulge myself

    also i blog less since i live and work on board i go out most nights instead of typing etc and my camera aperture is ruined damn it fell.....

    busy doing the provision off to sicily soon

    will write you from there

    Posted by sha | 23 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Pailette Feuilletine is actually crushed French crepes which is used in cakes. They keep the crunch for a longer period of time as compared to cornflakes and rice crispies. They are quite expensive and usually used by professionals, but by all means you can also uase cornflakes or rice crispies just like what PH did in his Sweet Pleasure. Paillete Feuilletine is usually combined with praline paste, melted chocolate, and butter and spread on top of the sponge cake base. What I know that there were 2 companies which produce it Cacao Barry and PatiFrance.

    Posted by Cathy | 24 June 2006 #
  • Lovely food and gorgeous photos Keiki.

    I’ve grown Kumquats in a pot on my balcony. I still have the the resulting fruit preserved in my husbands best cognac (when he wasn’t looking!)

    Posted by Barbara | 24 June 2006 #
  • You can make any food look wonderful Keiko! Lovely story of sharing too. I’ve never been mad about Kumquats but I’m ready to change my ways tout suite! Thank you :)

    Posted by carolg@ParisBreakfasts | 24 June 2006 #
  • Delicious as usual. I feel happy since I grow this fruit in my terras and I did not know how to use it (apart from eating it as it is!).

    BTW I just discovered my blog was blocking all comments, sorry for not replying to yours.


    Posted by Francesco | 25 June 2006 #
  • I used to have so many kumquats and I have no idea what to do with them due to its bitterness and tangy taste.

    I’m going to try and make some tarts this time. They look so good. Anyway how do i make candied kumquats?

    Posted by Crysta | 26 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    As a huge fan of baking (allthough a total novice) and esthetics

    i found your blog when searching for PH works, and i stayed.

    I spent(happily) my latest afternoons reading each entry and looking at each picture and i had to tell you how beutifull everything is.

    from the writing to the pictures.

    It is totaly admirable and left me speechless

    Posted by yaron | 26 June 2006 #
  • oh my, with just one type of tiny citrusy fruit, you’ve made a host of delectable desserts.. it has definitely opened up my eyes to the possibilities of kumquat!

    Posted by eatzycath | 26 June 2006 #
  • oh la la... such a beautiful creation... i can just about taste the offerings too... yum...

    Posted by Lil | 26 June 2006 #
  • So amazing !

    Posted by Papilles et Pupilles | 26 June 2006 #
  • :-)

    Posted by hassi | 28 June 2006 #
  • Keiko, just last week I found an all-butter puff pastry at a local natural/organic shop - it was exceptional. Have you heard of Dorset Pastry? On their website (http://www.dorsetpastry.com/) they list all their retailers in the UK. A bit pricier than the normal supermarket stuff, but as good as anything I’ve made myself...

    Posted by melissa | 28 June 2006 #
  • so, do we get to see these recipes? :P.


    Posted by flory | 28 June 2006 #
  • Oh. Wow. That first picture is absolutely amazing. So dslicate like some sort of Chihuly glass sculpture. And I can only imagine the taste! :-)

    Posted by Jeanne | 3 July 2006 #
  • Hi there, thanks so much again for all your kind notes.

    Shalimar - enjoy the trip to Sicily, take lots of pictures ;)

    Cathy - thank you so much for the detailed information! I’d like to try it some time but do you think I can get the same flavour with cornflakes/rice crispies? Your description makes my mouth water, I love praline everything...

    Barbara - I won’t tell him if you don’t! :) Looking forward to seeing your tree some time.

    Francesco - do you grow it in in London? I’ve seen some garden centres selling the trees, but I wasn’t sure if they are strong enough to grow here.

    Crysta - I didn’t make the candied kumquats, Joycelyn made them! I believe you just need to cook them in syrup, there seem to be quite a few recipes if you google it.

    Yaron - thank you for your kind notes, my cakes can’t be compared to PH creations, but I enjoy making them nonetheless :)

    Melissa - thanks for letting me know - I’ll definitely try it, it must be great.

    Flory - I’ll try when I can!

    Posted by keiko | 4 July 2006 #
  • Beautiful! Just Beautiful! The financier molds for the tarts are a great idea. They produce such an elgant shape. I am going to have to try doing that.

    Posted by Kitarra | 4 July 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I personally used rice crispies and cornflakes to substitute paillete feuilletine. It is because the paillete feuilletine is hardly available here in our country plus it is very expensive. The rice crispies and the cornflakes will give the same crunchy effect but the paillete feulletine has a distinct crunch of which I personally think that the substitutes doesn’t have.Paillete Feuilletine also keeps the crunch for a longer peroid of time, maybe twice the amount of the time of rice crispies. But to substitute I like rice crispies better as compared to cornflakes since PH also uses rice crispies.

    Posted by Cathy | 5 July 2006 #
  • Hi Kitarra - hope you enjoy making tarts with financier moulds or some even more unusual types.

    Hi Cathy - thanks so much again for your notes. As you say, I’d be happy with rice crispies for now but I’d like to try paillete feuilletine some time...

    Posted by keiko | 19 July 2006 #
  • Keiko,

    You are certainly sucessful in your marrainge of both compositions of the palette and of the eye. One feeds the other with an elevated equilibrium unmatched apart from one another. It is this delicate balance of pleasing the senses for which we all strive to acheive. Thanks for leading by example. Bravo!

    Posted by Terrence | 7 September 2006 #
  • Hi Terrence – I certainly enjoyed the experiment, thank you for your kind words!

    Posted by keiko | 12 January 2007 #
  • I love this recipe!
    I’m hosting AFAM – kumquats and today is the last day. I would love to have your entry.


    Thank you, Margot

    Posted by Coffee and Vanilla | 30 April 2008 #
  • Hi Margot – I’m sorry I missed your kumquat event, hopefully I can take part next time!

    Posted by keiko | 1 July 2008 #

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