Five Colored Steam Cake
Now that the men’s private bathhouse, Master’s Hideaway, had safely opened, Ellis decided to have everyone show off the results of their experiments.
“Well, have you guys done your homework?”
“Although I had difficulty with my coloring, it is okay.”
“I am quite confident with mine.”
“Mine differs between taste and appearance.”
“I’m looking forward to showing mine off.”
Everyone’s homework was to dye a steam cake with their color.
“Maybe I should apologize to Reeve though?”
Actually, Ellis had done a bit of self-reflection after giving out this assignment. The problem was that Reeve’s blue color was often associated with a ‘loss of appetite’, and it is rarely seen as something delicious. That is why such a color rarely exists in edible dyes.
“Well there is no fixing what I said in the past. Let’s see the results of your efforts first.”
The five girls redistributed five small cups of the steam cakes beforehand. The steamed cakes’ differing colors were beautiful lined up together.
“Well then, I will go first since I made us do this in the first place.”
Ellis’s theme was gold. She initially had the idea of sprinkling gold powder on top of the steam cake, but she gave up pretty quickly since the cost of that would be unsuitable for just a hobby experiment.
Ellis then decided to use egg yolk while she was mixing the powder. The result was that the cake had become a pale yellow color and the elasticity of the texture had become stronger. Moreover, she tried mixing in walnuts for an accent.
“It might be a stretch to call this gold, but you all can consider this as me lowering the hurdle right off the bat.”
Still, Ellis was proud of her creation and urged everyone to take a taste.
“It has a strong taste.”
“The crunchiness of the walnut is a nice accent.”
Reeve and Frau seemed to really enjoy the gold steam cake.
Next was Reeve’s turn.
“Honestly, blue was impossible.”
With those humble words right off the bat, Reeve introduced a steam cake that was dyed a bluish purple.
“I finely adjusted the color tone with the fruit juice of a blueberry. It would turn completely purple if I had put in more juice than I had. Because the fruit juice alone didn’t do much to season the flavor, I had to mix in the whole fruit. It also made adjusting the gradation easier.
“Wonderful Reeve! This gradation is also nice!”
“The acidity from the berries is really delicious!”
This cake was well liked by Ellis and Claire.
Next was Frau’s cake.
“The color is dyed red with raspberry just like Reeve, but I did mix in the corners of some boiled purple yam. ”
“It’s a wonderful red color and looks delicious.”
“The mixed in purple yam gives it a wonderful texture.”
Katie and Claire literally bite into the idea.
Next was Claire with her black cake.
“The coloring is mostly from black sesame with another added ingredient. Try a taste.”
While being urged by Claire, everyone took the black mass that you would normally never want near your mouth, and the first thing they tasted was the sesame seeds. Furthermore, a fragrant and sweet smell passed through their noses, and a bittersweet taste was left in their mouths.
“What is that bittersweet taste?”
Claire pounded her chest when Ellis asked.
“This is caramel. After burning some sugar, I mixed it into the dough.”
“As expected of Claire. The idea was wonderful.”
“This is a really unexpected taste.”
Let’s say it is an adult’s taste. This one seems to have become the favorite of Reeve and Frau.
The last is Katie.
“Katie’s is special nya.”
At the recommendation of Katie, the four carried the last cake to their mouth with great expectations.
? ? ?
Four people tilted their heads and took another taste.
? ? ?
On behalf of the four whose faces had scrunched up like a fox’s, Claire gently prodded Katie.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you changed.”
“I didn’t add anything.”
Katie puffed out her chest in pride.
“The steam cakes were already pure white. Because I’m providing the basic taste, the ingeniousness of the other four will stand out.”
Ellis was impressed.
Really, sometimes she does come up with good ideas.
“I actually tried adding some boiled white beans, but it completely covered up the taste of the cake, so I quit.”
It certainly wouldn’t blend well like Frau’s purple yams.
“Everyone passed. Rather, mine was the most common.”
“It was no such thing. The crunch of the walnut was wonderful.”
“By the way, why did we do this?”
While appreciating Reeve’s follow-up, Frau’s tsukkomi made Ellis remember the important points.
Ellis explained the reasons for the homework to everyone.
“These will be called Five Color Steam Cakes, and they will be a specialty product of Lily Garden. I have already obtained consent from the Merchant Guild. We will first sell them at the upcoming Harvest Festival.”
Aah! Active advertising.
However, the next tsukkomi would come from Reeve.
“What are we going to use as a container?”
“The price would certainly be expensive if we used a pottery cup.”
“Why not apply some oil to the inside of the cup before steaming? Then we can easily take the cake out.”
“But that would ruin its no-oil appeal.”
This was truly a blindspot.
There is paper in this world.
However, it is made of hemp and is closer to cardboard paper or washi.¹ It is too thick for work like lining a small cup. Naturally, it is also not suitable for wiping down the important places after using the toilet either.
Then Katie came up with a decent idea.
“If it’s like this, how about we steam them up in a big batch, and we cut it up into bite size pieces like a loaf of bread?”
Katie continued to build off her idea.
“If we put a knife at the end of the container, we can make sure to divide the big loaves into certain weights. Then if we put on another knife, we can cut off the parts that don’t look as good and sell only the good-looking parts. The cut off ends can be sold cheaply to the guild for their tea ceremonies.”
Katie was truly on a roll.
And she just kept on rolling.
“Then, if we arrange the five different colors of the cake in appropriate cut up pieces on a small cloth, we can sell them as souvenirs. We could also just arrange them on a plate and have the customers eat them right away.”
“Well then let’s go!”
Ellis confirmed the size of the large steamer Claire had made with the female craftsman and bought five square pottery pots with Frau. These had flat bodies with 500 mm in length and width with 100 mm in depth. After spreading the dough thinly and widely in this, they deposited it in the steamer.
At the bottom of the steamer, a large metal pot was installed. There were regular stones gathered at its base with one large Fever stone placed underneath so that the heating would not be applied directly to the pot. On top of it was placed a square wooden frame with a bamboo steamer sort-of-device made from a rattan-woven net. It was completed with a rattan lid on top.
After starting up the Fever stone and pouring water into the pot, it started boiling immediately and steam was vigorously generated.
They girls placed a thin cloth at the bottom of the container so that the cake would be easily peeled off before pouring the dough from above. Ellis added her walnuts, Reeve her blueberries, Frau her scarlet mixture, at intervals of 50 mm. There would be a total of 100 pieces made with each one 10 mm in length and width.
Each section was cordoned off by an edge.
After everything was filled, it was placed in the Claire special steamer, and extra air placed underneath the fabric was blown out, flattening the fabric.
Steaming time was about a quarter of an hour.
Push in the skewer to make sure that the cakes were solid before taking out the entire container.
Slide a knife around the edges and gently raise the corner of the fabric to let out any heated up air still between the cloth and the container. Then flip the container upside down. Continue to run the knife on the bottom of the container and peel off the cloth completely to take out the cake.
Here Claire’s handmade carving machine appears.
This is a square box with fine steel wires crossed at equal intervals. By pushing this down on the rectangular cake, it can be cut equally down every side. With this, a cube made up of 5 rectangular parts was cut up into 100 equal sized pieces.
The cakes were then arranged in a checkerboard pattern, and the Five Color Steam Cake set is complete. Frau prepared the extra bits in another bowl afterwards.
“Next is a container.”
This is done by cutting the hemp paper into 200 mm squares, forming a bottom plate, and a 400 mm square cloth to wrap it up.
“We can order thin cloths and cut up hemp paper at the Workshop Guild. We can also have a print made on the paper.”
Frau came with a suggestion upon Claire’s new infromation.
“How about getting our flag printed on it?”
Ellis and Claire immediately left to go consult with Flint. Of course bringing souvenirs.
“Is Mr. Flint here?”
“Ellis? Give me one moment.”
A young man who seemed to be resting to be resting underneath the eaves immediately got up and left to go call his boss.
After a while, Flint came up from the back.
“Oh, how are you doing today?”
“Do you have time for a small consultation?”
Ellis and Claire handed over the souvenir steam cakes to Flint and immediately got down to talking about their operation.
“Hm. So each color is one of your girls’ symbol. Then I’ll eat Claire first.”
Old man, what is with that expression?
“Oh, this black one is sesame and caramel. It’d go great with some tea. Then I’ll eat Ellis next.”
That’s why I’m saying you should stop using that vulgar way of speaking on purpose.
“Aah, this one has crispy walnuts. Well, I understand that you came here asking about designer paper and such, but Claire, you should’ve thought about this a little more.”
While gently striking Claire’s head with his fist, Flint added a new idea.
Make the bottom paper plate larger to encompass the height of the cake as well. Then fold the paper to completely protect the cakes. This would prevent the cakes from collapsing through the cloth, and it would make for a better presentation. Then just adjust the cloth to make a dedicated drawstring bag.
“It would be costly to have your flag printed on with all five of your colors, but if it was dyed in one color, it could be done immediately. 10 ril for each mount paper and another 10 ril for each piece of liner paper, and you would have to order them in sets of 100. The drawstring bag will be 200 ril for a set, and it’ll be an additional 180 ril to have single color prints sewn on.”
Truly an ossan.²
If that’s the case, selling the cakes with a single bag for 600 ril will give enough of a profit.
“Thank you, Master.”
Ellis and Claire bowed their heads to Fling.
Next the two headed for the Merchant Guild.
Just like before, they gave a set of cakes to Maria for tasting.
“Then I shall eat Madame Reeve.”
The adults in this city are seriously disappointing.
“Yeah, this’ll do. This product is just as good as what you told me about the other day.”
“Yes, we will be selling them at the Harvest Festival for 600 ril.”
“Isn’t that a little expensive?”
“They will be coming with a drawstring bag with the flag of Warren’s Jewelry Box embroidered on it.”
“Change it to 1000 ril for the Harvest Festival.”
Truly a merchant.
After confirming everything with the Merchant Guild, Ellis visited the Adventurer Guild and the Thieve’s Guild as well to have all the other masters try out the cakes. This way she doesn’t have to hear about any complaints or whining later on down the line.
When Ellis had finished traveling to the guilds, she made her way home, but for some reason, Frau was there waiting for her with a smile while Katie was off in a corner looking dizzy.
“Here, please eat this.”
Frau’s offering was a small dish made from the cut up edges of the steam cake. It looked like they were made into a larger cake by having the leftover steam cake organized into layers with custard cream gluing them together with a topping made up of whipped cream and scattered fruits.
“Just spread out the cream with a spoon and then serve. These sweets are sometimes called trifles.
Oh, something delicious came out.
“We already gave some sweets to the guild nya.”
By the way, Katie had volunteered to make some more sweets as presents for the guilds. I wonder what Frau said to her to make her look like this.
“Katie, come have some of this.”
“Really? Is it okay?”
“This one can be enjoyed by many people.”
Katie’s eyes instantly began to shine.
“That’s right, isn’t it.”
Thus Ellis had finished another peaceful day.
Meanwhile, the Brave party was wandering the kingdom’s dungeons, as usual, and the Demon Lord continued to crush and throw all bronze claw gauntlets that they kept bringing him.
1. It’s the paper they use in traditional Japanese lanterns or the sliding doors.
2. I’m not exactly sure what she means by this. There might be some connotation of being an older man that I just don’t know about, so I just left it as ossan.