Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mini Sponge Cakes

Going along with my Asian-inspired sweets recipe from last week, I decided to post another popular Chinese bakery favorite: sponge cakes! I seriously grew up eating these. When I was a child, people would gift my grandma with so many of these paper-lined cakes, I was always overjoyed to get one.

These tend to be sold in a more old fashioned kind of Chinese bakeries. I`ve been to several nicer Chinese bakeries and I never see them sold. However, those small mom and pop shops in Chinatown are sure to have many. They are pretty tall, about 4 inches. And, they`re so soft and sponge-y. It`s like biting into sweet, cushy clouds. I don`t have the correct pan to get the right shape, but they look like this, in case you were wondering!

These cakes are just fantastic. You know how I know? I made them THREE times in ONE week. That`s how you know they`re good. I was sad to discover this recipe only yields 6-8 cakes, depending on the size of your pan. I wanted to gift them to my extended family and friends for Lunar New Year, but my parents kept eating them!

If you`re like me and always wanted to make these on your own, here`s the perfect opportunity! Or, if you just want to taste the deliciously sweet side of Chinese baked goods, this is a wonderful way to try.

Slightly off topic, but I`m saying this is a Chinese recipe, since I`m sure it is. However, I grew up with a mixture of both Chinese and Vietnamese cultures. Often times, I get confused differentiating between the two. I`ve seen these sold in both Chinese and Vietnamese bakeries! Thinking about it though, these Vietnamese bakeries could also be owned by Chinese people who were born and raised in yeah. Confusing, huh?

P.S. - The recipe is in weight, because I tried converting it as I was working on the recipe...but when I used the conversion measurements when I made the recipe again, it was totally off! Hence, just use the weight measurements listed below if you can. You can try converting the recipe to cups on your own though!

Mini Sponge Cakes
Adapted: Rasa Malaysia| Yields: 6-8 mini cakes  | Level: Easy-Medium | Total Time: 1.5 hours

-          60 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
-          60 grams cake flour
-          15 grams corn starch
-          5 large egg whites
-          90 grams granulated sugar
-          5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
-          ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
-          ½ teaspoon lemon zest

1.       Use standalone large baking cups, or line large/Texas size muffin tins with paper liners.
2.       Preheat oven to 400°F.
3.       Sift together the cake flour and corn starch twice. Set aside.
4.       In a bowl with electric mixer, whisk the egg whites on low speed until foamy. Gradually add in the sugar with 3 additions, mixing on low as you go.
5.       Increase speed to medium, then high, until you've reach stiff peaks (this will take several minutes).
6.       Use a spatula and fold in lightly beaten egg yolks, gently, until combined.
7.       Next, fold in flour and corn starch mixture until combined.
8.       Scoop a few tablespoons of batter into melted butter. Mix a little. Then, gently fold everything back into batter, along with the vanilla extract and lemon zest, until combined.
9.       Divide batter among prepared baking cups/muffin tins, filling each cup 2/3 of the way.
10.   Put cakes in oven, reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
11.   Bake for 18-20, or until tops are lightly golden. If you poke the tops of the cakes and they spring back, they are done.
12.   Allow them to cool for about 5-10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on cooling rack.

-          Make sure you sift the flour and corn starch together, twice! I used a fine mesh sieve.
-          Stiff peaks--if you turn your whisk beaters upside down, the tips should NOT fall over and stick (mostly) up.  It will take a few minutes, but be careful not to over whip!
-          I used baking cups that hold up on their own during baking. Liners will work just as fine.  
Best eaten day of, can be wrapped for later. Tops will get soft/wet, but cakes will still taste great.