During recent cooler months, Sundays have mostly been spent indoors, reading a book, watching an episode of The Slap or chatting to friends and family over Skype. I relish lazy days like this, when the chilly temps outside provide an excellent excuse to do sweet nothing but recharge for the week ahead and savor a rare moment of solitude.
The Sunday Bake Shop is another reason to look forward to Sundays. Sunday Bake is a hole-in-the-wall shop within a five-minute walk from my home. As the name suggests, it sells baked goods on Sundays.
On my first visit, I was skeptical. Japanese cakes are typically light fluffy affairs that emphasize appearance over taste. But, after one bite of Sunday Bake’s chocolate cake, I knew that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill Japanese cake shop. It was heavy, moist and rich with thick buttery icing. You know, the kind that evokes memories of children’s birthday parties.
I’ve since tried all of Sunday Bake Shop’s cakes which include the best in baking that Britain has to offer – Victoria sponge, Lemon Drizzle, apple and strawberry crumble – as well as Japanese twists on the British theme such as Ginger & White, a ginger sponge with a thick layer of butter cream icing, and ponkan cake, a bittersweet Chinese Honey Orange-flavoured number.
All delicious. Every. Single. One.
The woman behind Sunday Bake Shop is Kazuko Shimazaki (the one in the middle with the lovely big smile). I imagine that she was born with a wooden spoon in one hand and a mixing bowl in the other. Her cakes are outstanding, by international standards, which is especially impressive given that she has grown up in a country where most households don’t have ovens.
Since that first visit, a cake from Sunday Bake has become a weekly ritual. I love establishing new rituals in new towns — they’re an important step in settling in and can provide a reassuring sense of familiarity and community. Sunday Bake is a little indulgent as far as rituals go but at 400 yen for a slice of yummy cake, a bit of neighborly banter and the feeling that I belong, I’m not giving it up anytime soon.
Photos from 鈴木静華