The invention of dorayaki is connected to a legendary samurai named Musashibo Benkei. It is believed that while trying to escape from his hideout in a farmer’s house, Benkei left behind his gong – dora in Japanese. Yaki means “cooked over direct heat”. The farmer then used this very same gong from Benkei to make some pancakes, and this is how the first dorayaki was invented.
Another story goes that Benkei was once injured and while recuperating under the care of an elderly couple, they made him a round cake by using the surface of a gong.
Dorayaki is known to be the favourite food of the popular Japanese cartoon, Doraemon. What is less known is that this wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionary) was originally made of only one layer. Its current two-layered shape was invented in 1914 by Usagiya, a famous confectionary shop in Ueno, Tokyo.
The owner of Usagiya modified this originally one-layered dorayaki into the two-layered dorayaki that we have today. Red bean paste is usually the fillings sandwiched between a two-layered dorayaki. Choices of what to have as a dorayaki filling now ranges from custard cream to Nutella.
The dough of a dorayaki is very similar to that of a pancake. It should be fluffy with a golden brown exterior. To make the red bean paste, it requires soaking the red beans between 8-12 hours before boiling it.
The taste of the red bean paste determines the overall quality of a dorayaki. In the Japanese film, Sweet Bean, it is the superior taste and texture of a 70-year old lady’s red bean paste that draws customers to an otherwise mediocre dorayaki shop.
The dough of a dorayaki consists of all-purpose flour, baking soda, and sugar. Its wet ingredients are eggs, honey and milk. As for the red bean paste, it requires soaking the red beans in water before cooking it with sugar till a soft paste is formed.