In my search for the perfect artisan rye bread this summer, I’ve found something even better – Japanese pumpkin bread! Well, it’s actually the Japanese Kabocha squash, which is referred to as Japanese pumpkin. It’s sweeter than other squashes and pumpkins, but it still has that mild pumpkin flavor.
I found it at the small, but growing Covington Farmer’s Market this morning. It’s made into a light, but decadent croissant-like bread by Japanese immigrant, Hisako “Chako” Okawa, who has a tent at the market. She was classically trained at the Cordon Bleu Institute in Japan, so while her breads are French forms, they are Japanese influenced in their lightness and ingredients. Chako came to Covington in 2015 to be by her son, who lived here at the time. He has since moved on to Seattle.
She does have a rye bread – although its mixed with millet flour, chia, cranberries and nuts, but has a lighter fluffiness than typical German rye breads.
It’s her Japanese pumpkin ‘croissants’ that are her signature. They also have a light fluffiness like the rye breads, with mild, but contrasting flavors. Unlike a croissant, you don’t get the insane butteriness, but the light sweetness of the pumpkin brings the decadence.
Chako has done pop up restaurants, offering contemporary Japanese cuisine, but plans to open her Chako Bread and Cakes in the Creperie on Pike Street on the other side of the railroad bridge, across the street from the old Sam Dragones Confectionery in Covington.
In addition to her genius breads, Chako also shares her knowledge of French pastry in her monthly classes. I am sure to be found in one of her upcoming classes.