Updated: Jul 31
Red bean cakes, also known as Che Lun Bing (cart wheel cake) in mandarin, or Imagawa Yaki in Japanese, is a sweet, fluffy, puck-shaped pancake stuffed with sweet red bean paste, and is a popular dessert originating from Japan. Imagawa Yaki was named after the Imagawa bridge which is close to where this sweet red bean filled dessert was first sold back in Japan, in the late 1700s. Since then, the dessert has become very popular Slowly, different renditions of it have come about, like the Obanyaki, Gozasoro, Takaiyaki and Dorayaki. It has become so popular that it was even sold in its neighbouring countries like Taiwan and South Korea.
The main attraction, other than the crispy and fluffy pancake on the outside, was the sweet red bean filling. The red bean paste, known as Anko in Japanese, was actually first introduced to Japan by China. When we think of red beans in western countries, we don't typically think of sweet desserts, but usually something savoury like red kidney beans in chilli. In Asia, sweet red bean paste is particularly popular and we have it in many desserts, like red bean buns, red bean porridge, red bean ice cream, red bean with mochi, any desserts you can think of. There is literally a movie called "Sweet bean" where the story surrounds a shop in Japan that sells dorayaki with sweet red bean paste. Making of anko (sweet red bean paste) is quite simple. Beans (usually Azuki red beans) are boiled and sweetened. Then they are simply kneaded to the preferred consistency. The pairing of crispy, fluffy pancakes and the sweetness of red bean paste is heavenly and you should definitely give it a try!
Wheel Cake Island specialises in wheel cakes (obviously), and they sell them in London, at the Spitalfields market, Seven Dials market and Westfield London shopping centre. You can also find shops selling them and even other similar types like Taiyaki, in Chinatown, London! If you are feeling ambitious, there are definitely ingredients and moulds you can buy from your nearest Asian supermarket or even online!
Words and pictures by Kai Lin Tan