Monday, March 3, 2008

Time for a Party!


Hina-Matsuri a magical way to welcome spring. (Hina means dolls and Matsuri means festival) The Girl's Day festival has been celebrated in Japan since the Edo Period. On March 3, families with girls wish their daughters a successful and happy life. Dolls are displayed on a tiered stand specially set for the occasion. The "Odairi-sama," a prince and "Ohina-sama," a princess, sit at the very top of the tier, surrounded by their courtiers. Beautifully arranged peach flowers also add to the festive spirit. The Doll's Festival, also known as the Peach Blossom's Festival (peach blossoms symbolize a happy marriage) has its origin in a Chinese custom. Hina Matsuri also has some of its roots in the festival of purification. The Peach Blossom's Festival which used to be one of the important seasonal events of ancient China and has now developed into a function symbolic of Japanese arts and customs. Unfortunately, it isn't something I know very much about which is a shame it sounds quite charming and delicately feminine. I wish I were able to get on a plane right now and share in the festivities but alas not possible. Thank goodness we have another means of exploring the world. I have tried to gather some resources below.

The traditional foods of the Doll's Festival may be sweet sake (amazake), chirashi sushi (Scattered sushi) and all kinds of Japanese confections.

Hina-matsuri used to be one of the very few occasions when little Japanese girls had their own parties. It was customary up to the prewar years for them to invite their small friends to these parties at which they partook of the sweets and food offered to the dolls. Sometimes they cooked and prepared the food and cakes to be offered to the dolls. They drank Shirozake, a sweet mild rice wine, on the occasion. The main offerings are small cakes - hishi mochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) fruit-shaped candy, tiny white and red dainties of osekihan (glutinous rice boiled with red beans) and colored wheat gluten. (source below)
Rhomboid-shaped rice cakes and sweet rice wine are served as well. Other dolls also can be displayed together with the "Hina" dolls. The year is divided into 24 segments each having a specific seasonal message. March 3rd is called "the festival of peach blossoms." The display of the dolls lasts for about a month. On March 3rd, we enjoy "Chirashizushi" which consists of "sashimi" or fresh raw fish and other delicacies set on top of "sushi" rice in a bowl. source

Time for a Party

Here is a charming recipe booklet titled Time for a Party. The copyright date is 1940 by General Foods Corp. 2nd printing. The two main ingredients promoted in this advertising recipe book are Swan's Down Cake Flour and Calumet Baking Powder. The represented party ideas are introduced by doll like characters which darn the pages. Basically, this is a recipe book full of baking ideas for red letter days, birthdays, anniversaries, and treats throughout the seasons. (Much like Months of Edible Celebrations:) It's interesting to note, that this booklet is one of the many recipe pamphlets included in the Chef Louis Szathmary Collection of Culinary Arts. I have scanned a page from the booklet which includes a recipe for Quick Red Devil's Food Cake with variations. Below, you will find the recipes for the frostings included in the recipes in the scan. (click to enlarge) I did not include the recipe for Pineapple Fluff Frosting as I found the exact same recipe right here.

The Recipes

Mellow Chocolate Frosting
3 c. confectioners' sugar (sifted)
3 tbs. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
4-1/2 squares Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate melted
1/2 c. milk
Combine ingredients in order given in deep blowl, beating with rptary egg beater until blended. Place bowl in pan of cracked ice or ice water and continue beating until of the right consistency to spread. If necessary, add 1 too 2 tablespoons additional milk or cream. Makes enough frosting to cover top and sides of cake 10x10x2 inches or 13x9x2 inches, or tops and sides of (2) 9 inch layers. Use 1/2 recipe to frost tops of 2-1/2 dozen medium cupcakes. Note: If light cream is used instead of milk, it is not necessary to place bowl in cracked ice or ice water while beating the mixture.
Coffee Butter Frosting
2/3 cup butter
5 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
5 tbs. coffee syrup (below)
Cream butter. Add part of sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Add remaining sugar, alternately with coffee syrup, until right consistency to spread. Beat after each addition until smooth. Makes enough frosting for 16 French pastries, or to cover tops and sides of (2) 9 inch layers. This is a rich frosting.
Coffee Syrup: For coffee syrup, bring to a boil 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon sugar; add 1/3 cup ground coffee and stir in quickly. Remove from fire, cover, and let stand in warm place 5 minutes. Strain from grounds through double thickness of cheesecloth.

Butterscotch Fudge Frosting
2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c. butter
1-1/4 c. granulated sugar
2/4 c. top milk (light cream)
1/2 c. water

Add brown sugar to butter and cook over low flame, stirring constantly, until mixture darkens slightly (about 5-6 minutes). Remove from fire and add granulated sugar, milk, and water. Return to fire and boil, without stirring, until small amount of mixture forms a very soft ball in cold water (232 degrees). Remove from fire. Cool to lukewarm (110 degrees); beat until of right consistency to spread. If necessary, place over hot water to keep soft while spreading. Makes enough frosting to cover tops and sides of (2) 9 inch layers, or tops of 3 dozen medium cup cakes.

  • 1. Hina Matsuri
  • 2. Celebrating Hina Matsuri
  • 3. Festival & Traditional Foods.
  • 4. Japanese Recipes
  • 5. Hina-Matsuri festivals as well as other Japanese recipes.


  1. Louise,
    Thanks os much for post this blog... I have been searching for a homemade chocolate cake recipe for a very long time. I am looking forward to making it (after Lent, of course, as my husband gave up cake) for my family and friends. The chocolate frosting recipe is an added bonus. Thanks again and I will certainly let you know how it turns out! -frutlup

  2. Hi frutlup,
    Thank you so much for visiting. The cake recipe certainly appeals to an end of lent "reward" for your husband. I found the frosting recipe most interesting also. Please do let me know how everyone likes it.

  3. The dolls are kept on display for a specified number of days -- it's considered bad luck to extend the correct length of time, specifically, your daughter might not get married if you do! In Hawaii (I once heard on Hawaii Public Radio) the Japanese have added one more day, in honor of their daughters' successful career BEFORE she gets married. The dolls are really beautiful -- I have a collection of them, and also have seen elegant ones in museums. There are collectible accessories and furniture for them as well as elaborate costumes.

  4. WOW Mae, your traveling experiences are so inspiring. I love this little nugget you have dropped off today. Thank you so much for sharing...Have you posted about your dolls I would LOVE to see them:)


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise