Final Proof: Sweet, savoury, chewy mochi doughnuts
May 31, 2023
By Jane Dummer, RD
Mochi doughnuts are delicious gluten-free options with a truly unique texture that can be flavoured, glazed and iced in endless possibilities
Mochi doughnuts are one of the latest baked good trends booming across North America. What is mochi and how is it made? The production of mochi is believed to date back to ancient Japan. Foods prepared with mochi have since been an important part of New Year’s celebrations in Japan. Mochi is made by processing mochigome, a type of glutinous (contrary to the name – it is gluten free) rice steamed and pounded into a dough/paste, then shaped for both sweet and savoury foods. It’s also known as mochiko flour. A similar process with other types of flour including tapioca or potato starch can be used to make mochi as well. That product is sometimes referred to as warabimochi. Either way, mochi products provide a unique textural experience ranging from chewy and spongy to bouncy and fluffy.
According to Market Growth Reports, the global mochi market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 per cent from 2022 to 2028 when it is expected to reach $5.53 billion. Last year when I was at the International Baking Industry Expo 2022 (IBIE 2022) in Las Vegas, Bakers Journal Editor Colleen Cross and I walked the exhibit floor to take in the trends. We discovered several mochi doughnut vendors including Mochi Foods. Since 2016, founder Pei Wu has expanded her customer list to include bakeries, grocery retailers and distributors across the U.S. As described by their company communications, Mochi Foods products have that addictive, unique mochi texture and Q factor (the Q Factor is Taiwan’s version of al dente, describing that perfectly calibrated “mouth feel” sought after and craved by savvy bakers, chefs and diners) developed by an acclaimed team of Taiwanese food scientists.
Typical mochi doughnuts are eight small balls connected into a circle that can easily be pulled apart and eaten. The dough is usually fried but it can also be baked, then they are decorated. In Canada, dedicated mochi doughnut shops including Isabella’s Mochi Donuts in the Greater Toronto Area and at Nordstrom Canada, plus Mochi Girls in Oakville, are popping up. At the end of March, I was in Seattle to celebrate my birthday when I visited Dahlia Bakery, home of OH Mochi doughnuts. Molly Anderson, head baker, Dahlia Bakery, told me the OH Mochi brand was first launched at Nordstrom on 57th Street in New York City, before becoming a staple at Dahlia Bakery in Seattle. Anderson, who led the brand’s recipe development, explains, “Traditionally mochi doughnuts are fried into a ring. Ours are baked. This lends to a slightly thicker doughnut with a cakey interior, but still provides the expected mochi chew. Mochi is made from a sweet rice flour turned into a paste and formed into various shapes. Mochi doughnuts are made from the same rice flours but mixed with traditional American doughnut ingredients to make a hybrid batter that is soft with a slight chew.”
Anderson says, “One of the biggest factors why the doughnuts are popular is that they are gluten free. Another reason includes our customers love fusion combinations. Taking a traditional item and adding a spin on it with a not-so-common flavour profile is exciting. Adding inclusions into the dough was the trickiest part of the recipe development. It was important to have the flavours come through without adversely affecting the doughnut’s expected texture. I like working with jams and fruit powders which allow for the texture’s integrity while providing delicious flavour options. We offer six different flavours monthly. Some rotate and some are brand new flavours each month. Our Funfetti! is the most popular. Everyone loves a good sprinkle! We also have limited editions like the Seahawks Funfetti during football season. Our Matcha doughnut is also very popular.”
During my time in Seattle, I sampled three OH Mochi flavours including Matcha, German Chocolate Cake and Mango Pandan. My favourite was the German Chocolate Cake with the coconut glaze, shredded coconut and pecans. The chewy, cakey texture with a rich, chocolaty flavour was the clincher for me.
Mochi doughnuts are delicious gluten-free options with a truly unique texture that can be flavoured, glazed and iced in endless possibilities from exotic to traditional creating sweet and savoury on-trend treats.
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. janedummer.com
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