Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chinese Bakery-Style Cake

This cake is THE BOMB!  Holy moly you have got to try it.  Chinese Bakery-style cakes are known for their lightness in both texture and can eat many slices and not feel sick :).  The cake itself is a light and moist sponge-cake like texture.  Sandwiched between the two cake layers is a creamy custard and fresh fruit.  The frosting is a fresh whipped cream.  And then you top it all off with more fresh fruit glazed to a glass-like finish.

I originally intended to make this as part of my mom's birthday celebration back in January but they changed the day on me so I didn't have the time to do so.  My Dad's side of the family was getting together for Chinese New Year celebration dinner so I thought what a perfect opportunity to give this one a shot.

It did take some effort (lots of whipping's times like these that I am so grateful for my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!) but the end result was delicious and beautiful.  Fresh fruit right now is a bit expensive but looked so pretty on the cake.  I wanted fruits with varying colors so ended up with strawberries, mangos, and green grapes.   I would have used kiwi instead of grapes but my brother is allergic.  Other fruits that would work well are canned peaches, canned mandarin oranges, honeydew, canteloupe, blueberries, red grapes, raspberries...let your mind get wildly creative!  I used my new cake decorating tools to frost the cake and then quickly learned to put a border around the top and bottom of my cake.  I took it a step further and wrote "Happy New Year" in CHINESE!  Man that was a challenge given I had never decorated or written on a cake in English before let alone Chinese...not to mention I can't even really write Chinese with pen and paper, either :).

I come from a family of cooks and therefore picky eaters so this was a true taste test.  My Aunt Cesena immediately recognized the Chinese text as "Happy New Year" (phew, that's a relief!).  My Uncle Ben ate 3 slices and my Aunt Lai, who said she doesn't typically like cake, went for seconds!  My Dad, who's a fruit fan, requested this cake for his birthday next month.  My cousin Donny said that I should sell it for at least $25 a pop (in Chinese bakeries, this type of cake is AT LEAST $20).  I have a feeling there's going to be many future requests for this cake and I'd say this one passed the test :).

A few notes of caution: 1) The original recipe was in metric and Lucy re-wrote it to be in US units.  This resulted in some funky numbers, which you'll see below.  Just estimate it the best that you can!  2) I used red buttercream frosting to write on the cake because I thought it would be easier than using the whipped cream frosting.  The red seemed to bleed a bit.  Also, because it has fresh fruits and other fresh ingredients, this cake is best served fresh on the same day that it is made.

So what are you waiting for?  Go and make this cake!!

PS:  Now taking orders :).

Chinese Bakery-Style Cake
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Chinese Bakery Style Cake


For the Cake
  • 0.7 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.8 cups of granulated sugar (split into 2 even portions)
  • 6 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
  • 1.4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1.4 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
For the Custard Filling*

  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
*Note: Used a large box of cook-to-serve (not instant) vanilla pudding instead of creating homemade custard filling.  Tasted great and helped simplify this recipe a little bit.  After cooking the pudding before putting in fridge to chill, lay a sheet of saran wrap of wax paper over the surface so that it won't form a "skin".

For the Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting
  • 2 tsp vanilla flavored instant pudding
  • 2 cups (1 pint) of chilled heavy cream
  • 2.5 tbsp of confectioner's sugar
For Fruit Filling and Decorating
  • Various fruits of different colors and shapes, sliced as desired (I used mango slices, whole grapes, and halved strawberries.  Honeydew, canteloupe, canned peaches, kiwi, blueberries, red grapes etc. would be great, too!)

To Make the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Cut out wax paper or parchment paper to the size of the bottoms of two 8" or 9" round baking pans.  Lightly grease sides of pans and parchment paper.
  2. Warm eggs to room temperature.  Separate 6 egg whites into large stand mixer bowl and 6 egg yolks into a separate large mixing bowl.  Be sure to separate carefully because any bit of yolk that gets into the egg whites will make whipping the whites much more difficult.
  3. Mix first sugar portion (0.4 cups) with the egg yolks and beat until slightly thick and pale yellow.  Stir in vanilla to the yolk mixture.
  4. In large stand mixer bowl, beat egg whites until they are 60% foamy (a little more than halfway to forming stiff peaks). Add the remaining portion of sugar (0.4 cups) in three separate additions while continuing to whip egg whites. Continue until stiff peaks form when the beaters are pulled away from the foam (this is meringue).
  5. Gently fold in 1/2 of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture, folding in carefully to minimize volume loss. Gradually add flour and baking powder and mix gently.  Add melted butter and milk to the batter.  Fold in the remaining half of the meringue carefully. 
  6. Divide batter into the two prepared pans. Immediately bake for about 20-25 minutes in preheated oven until tops are a light brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. (Bake shorter in a dark, matte, or non-stick pan, and bake longer in a glass, aluminum, or other shiny pan). It's important that you bake the two cake layers immediately after the batter is finished, as the meringue will tend to re-liquefy as it sits around, and you'll get a weird thick layer at the bottom of your cake if you bake it like that.
  7. Remove cakes from oven and leave in pan to cool to room temperature.  If assembling cake later in the day, wrap cooled cake layers in saran wrap until ready to assemble.
For the custard filling
(If using cook-to-serve vanilla pudding, skip these steps and just follow the instructions on your package)
  1. Mix the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in 3/4 cup of milk and mix until smooth.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil at medium heat, whisking constantly. Be careful not to scrape off any clumps that form on the sides and bottoms as it will leave clumps in your custard.
  3. Cook another 2 minutes and remove from heat. At this point the mixture should have thickened up dramatically.
  4. Mix together egg with remaining 1/4 cup of milk, then combine with the mixture in the saucepan, whisking vigorously to combine. Return to heat and cook until it just starts to boil. There will be a lot of lumps as you first incorporate the egg mixture, but just keep whisking as you heat it up and most of the lumps should disappear.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly touching the surface of the custard to prevent any skin from forming on the custard. If you still have any remaining clumps in the custard now would be a good time to put some more elbow grease into the whisking and if you really can't get rid of them just scoop them out :)
  6. Chill at least 2 hours in the fridge or overnight if desired.
For the Stablized Whipped Cream Frosting
  1. Use stand mixer to beat heavy cream in a large well-chilled stand mixer bowl.  Beat cream on low speed until small bubbles form (about 30 seconds).  Increase speed to medium and beat until beaters leave a trail in the cream (about 30 seconds).  Increase speed to high, moving beaters around bowl. Beat until just before it becomes soft and billowy.
  2. Slowly add sugar and instant vanilla pudding at the sides of the bowl while continuing to whip until it is barely stiff.  These ingredients will stabilize the whipped cream and prevent it from separating over time.
  3. Use immediately for frosting or refrigerate for later use.
To Assemble the Finished Cake

  1. Carefully remove cakes from pans, cutting around edges if necessary.  Peel or cut away the skin of the cakes (the brown parts on the surface) using hands or a long serrated knife. If needed, level the surface of cake with a knife to make surface as flat as possible.
  2. Prepare fresh fruits to be placed between the cake layers. I used strawberries, green grapes, and mango slices. Use whatever you have on hand, just cut it up into small bite-sized pieces and make enough to cover the entire surface between the two cake layers. You can also prep fruit to put on top of the cake as decoration at the same time.
  3. Make a simple syrup of 2 parts water to 1 part granulated sugar by stirring together in a saucepan and slowly warming it up just until all the sugar dissolves. Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. Brush each cake with a thin layer of simple syrup on all surfaces. This helps keep the cake moist.
  4. Lay the first cake layer down onto plate.  Spread about half of prepared cooled custard onto the top of the cake layer leaving about 1/2" uncovered around the edge of the cake.  Add prepared fruit pieces on top of the custard, covering the entire custard area. Add remaining custard on top of the fruit.
  5. Place second cake layer on top of fruit filling. Gently press layers together and if needed, wipe away any excess custard that escapes from the sides.
  6. Frost the cake using the stabilized whipped cream topping and a wide blade or a frosting spatula.
  7. Be creative about how you want to decorate your cake. I piped out shells along the top and bottom edge of the cake rim. I then garnished with my prepared fruit and wrote in red buttercream frosting.
  8. For the finishing touch, you can make a nearly clear glaze that can be brushed on top of your fruit to give them a glass-like finish similar to the fruit on top of fruit tarts. Heat 1/4 cup of fruit preserves (any flavor - apricot is pretty popular) with an equal amount of water. Stir until boiling. Reduce by boiling off the water to alter the consistency of your glaze. If needed, press the boiled preserved through a fine sieve to separate out the fruit and seeds.  While it is still warm, gently brush it over your fruit and let it dry to achieve that beautiful shiny finish.
  9. Finally, put your cake into the fridge and chill for a few hours to let the frosting set. It is best served in the same day it was made.
Source: Modified from Edible Memories


Cathy said...

great job with the decorations. Looks just like the ones from the bakery!

Sara said...

Your cake turned out beautiful, and I love Chinese cakes. I can't wait to try this one out.

vanessa said...

This looks amazing! You mentioned the original recipe was in metric units, would you by any chance still have it? I have no experience converting cups to grams, and am not sure how many grams per cup you based your original conversion on. I really want to make this for my boyfriend's birthday.

Christine @ Christine's Kitchen Chronicles said...

Hi Vanessa. The original recipe for the cake itself was in metric. I don't have the conversions for the other components but you can probably google for appropriate conversions.

Happy early birthday to your boyfriend!Hope this helps and thanks for visiting!

Cake Ingredients (metric):
-160 g all purpose flour
-180 g sugar, divided into 2 equal portions
-6 eggs, separated
-20 g butter
-20 g of milk
-.5 g of vanilla extract
-2 Pans (in 21 cm diameter)

vanessa said...

Thanks so much for the speedy reply!

Peace said...

I love this. Thank you so much for the recipe. I have been looking on your blog and I must say you have a lot of cool stuff. You can really see that you have a passion for food. :)

Unknown said...

Can you please put up instructions on how to make the buttercream frosting please? :)

@~@ said...


I am first time to your interesting blog and everything looked gorgeous. Will pop by often and see more interesting stuff!

cheers, bonnie

Jenny said...

Hi! I love this recipe, and your blog. I was wondering if I could link to this recipe on my blog. Thanks so much!


Christine @ Christine's Kitchen Chronicles said...

Hi Jenny - Thanks for stopping by to share the love and I checked out your blog, too. I only wish I had gotten into cooking sooner like you!

Yes, please feel free to link this recipe to your blog. As long as you give credit and link back to my post you need not ask my permission :).

Unknown said...

You did an awesome job! I'm really far from home and Asian bakeries around here doesn't exist, so I'm really grateful for your recipe. Quick clarifying question; is the pudding used actually made into pudding already or did you just add the powdered pudding mix in with the cream? Thanks! So much!

Christine @ Christine's Kitchen Chronicles said...

Hi Kara Bear - I'm assuming you're referring to the vanilla pudding powder that is used in the frosting. If so, yes, just add the pudding powder straight to the cream.

Ms. Latt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ms. Latt said...

hi! that's an amazing looking cake you made! And I have no doubts that it tastes even better than it looks! I was wondering if you knew any mousse filling recipes that are similar to those made in a Chinese bakery? Thanks!

Tina said...

Wow! Thank you. I had no idea you could make this at home!

Christine @ Christine's Kitchen Chronicles said...

Mrs. Latt - No, I haven't not experimented with the mousse but assume it is very similar to standard recipes. If I run across one I will put it up but otherwise, try google!

Tina - Yes, it's not especially hard but a little time consuming. Worth the effect, though! Thanks for stopping by.

Eva @ Eva Bakes said...

Hi Christine! I finally got a chance to make your cake. It was amazing, as expected! My mom had a great time baking this together, and my dad even ate up the remaining custard with a spoon! I've linked back to you here:

Anonymous said...

Love this! I tried this today with another stabilized whipped cream recipe from somewhere else, and my asian parents totally loved it! Nice post.

Christine @ Christine's Kitchen Chronicles said...

Kitchen Cici- Thanks for the positive feedback! This is my Dad's favorite as well :).

Anonymous said...

Hi thanks for the recipe. Can you explain about how much sugar is used total in make just the cake. Confuse with the section here you instruct to mix in First portion of sugar (.4 cup). Then again in three different mix? So does each mix consist of .4 cups of sugar?