Eating flower cakes (Hwajeon)

hwajeonSpring has sprung
With the abundance
Of blossoming flowers

I think the poet of this poem – Scott Austin is the name – would have loved Hwajeon, a traditional Korean cake made with flowers which captures the romance of the spring blossoms.  I saw them at the Korea Food Day held in Ottawa last Saturday and was almost hesitant to eat such pretty things.

In the olden days, hwajeon was commonly eaten at hwajeon nori (화전놀이), a spring picnic enjoyed by Korean women on Samjin-nal, the day that falls on every March 3 in the lunar calendar. To this annual picnic, women would bring glutinous rice flour and frying pans to make hwajeon with azaleas or any edible flowers that they would pick. It was a chance for women to eat and have fun together and show off their various talents through plays that involve songs, dance, poetry writing among many. The mothers-in-law didn’t join the picnic to allow their daughters-in-law to freely enjoy the day.

Here is how to make hwajeon:


800g glutinous rice flour
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. boiled water
Edible flowers to decorate. Remove the pollen-producing stamen of the flower. While azaleas are the most commonly used flowers in hwajeon, you can use any other edible flowers such as roses, pansies, forsythia, or magnolias to name a few.
1 c. honey or syrup
cooking oil
Optional: Any kind of herb leaves
Optional: 10 jujubes

1. Knead the glutinous rice flour with boiled water. Wrap with plastic wrap to make the dough smoother.
2. Pick petals from blossoms. Wash them in cold water, and dry.
3. Slice jujubes and roll them up. Pick leaves from herb of your choice.
4. Roll out the glutinous rice dough to 0.6cm in thickness, 5cm in diameter.
5. Decorate the top of the dough with petals, jujubes, and herb leaves.
6. Pan-fry both sides over low heat.
7. Enjoy the Hwajeon with honey or syrup!

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