Sakura Cookies and Matcha Black Sesame Pinwheel Cookies

These cookies remind me of happy times in Japan - strolling through the supermarket and marvelling at all the gorgeous Japanese products, delicious fluffy white bread in the bakeries, and sitting on stools in the middle of a bustling crowd having a bento box for lunch. It's so much fun! I love the country, the people, the culture, the language and the FOOD. Of course. 

I've always wanted to make Sakura cookies but I've never really managed to find pickled Sakura flowers in Singapore. I can't describe my excitement when I saw these in Japan and I just put it in my basket without hesitation! It's funny how these little things actually make me so happy, and it's these moments that truly make me realise how much I've truly fallen in love with baking. 

The recipe for these cookies are really just a standard shortbread, with the addition of some chopped pickled Sakura flowers in the cookie dough plus some on top to prettify it. I've included a variation for matcha black sesame pinwheels to ride to on the Japanese theme, but you could sure include any add ins you wish! Just be sure to add dry add-ins so that it won't change the texture of the cookies too much. 

Sakura Cookies 

113g unsalted butter, softened 

30g salt pickled Sakura flowers 

120g cake flour 

Pinch of salt 

60g icing sugar 

1 egg yolk 

White sparkling/ sanding sugar 

Separate the Sakura flowers into good flowers for decoration + 1 tbsp for blending into the cookie dough. Soak in cool water for at least 30 minutes before patting dry between pieces of paper towel. For the 1 tbsp of flower petals for blending in cookie dough, chop finely and set aside. 

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy, add the egg yolk. Sift in flour and salt, add the 1 tbsp of finely chopped Sakura flowers. Chill the dough in plastic wrap for at least 1h. 

When the cookie dough has firmed up slightly, shape it into a 4cm diameter log. Place on a bed of rice in the fridge to chill till firm, at least 1h. (The bed of rice is optional, but it helps the cookie to keep its round shape)

Wrap the log of dough in moist paper towels and roll in sanding sugar. Slice into 7mm thick rounds, gently brush with water and press in reserved Sakura flowers for decoration. Leave some space between cookies as they will spread in the oven. 

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes until the edges are lightly golden. Cool completely before serving and storing. 

For matcha black sesame pinwheel cookies: Omit the cherry blossoms. Divide the plain cookie dough into 2 portions, add 1 tbsp matcha powder to one portion and 1 tbsp black sesame power into the other portion. After chilling the doughs separately, roll out each portion into a large rectangle, place the rectangle of matcha dough over the black sesame dough, then roll up like spring roll. Chill the log of dough for at least 1h, till firm. Brush the log with egg wash and roll in sesame seeds before slicing and baking as stated above. 

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