Monday, November 5, 2012

Chinese Bakery Cake, for my dad

It was my dad`s birthday two weeks ago and I decided I wanted to make him a cake. Several problems with this idea, though. Problem 1: He doesn`t like "American" cakes because they`re always too sweet for him. Problem 2: I don`t have any other cake recipes aside from "American" cakes.

I came up with an idea to make him a cake they sell at Chinese bakeries, because those aren`t too sweet. I Googled and found a recipe! I was so ecstatic to try making it.

Let me tell you, if you didn`t know already, making a layered cake takes a LOT of time. I mean, I figured they were very time-consuming. But, wow. Luckily, I love baking, so all of this was pretty new and exciting for me. However, I`m pretty sure I didn`t know what I was doing most of the time. The only sure thing I knew I was doing right was baking the cake.

The picture of the cake above looks odd because I made this cake at my campus apartment and by the time I transferred it to home...well, transporting cake isn`t easy. By the time we were going to surprise my dad, 1 raspberry fell off, the frosting touched the sides of my cake carrier, and the juice from the fruits were leaking onto the frosting.

Hey, it was my first layered cake, so I was more proud than anything! :)

It was a tiny cake and the layers were really thin (about half an inch) but, it was perfect for my family since my parents aren`t too big on eating cakes. I was nervous because I couldn`t try the cake beforehand, so I didn`t know if it was going to be good or not. Thankfully, it was DELICIOUS. I`m not a much of cake lover, but I would definitely eat this cake again. I even had two servings in sitting! My youngest sister and boyfriend was surprised at how much they each like it as well!

I also added toasted sweetened coconut at the bottom of the cake after I took the picture. They were a perfect addition, I must say. I suggest you to do the same, but add them right before serving so the coconut stays crunchy.

Unfortunately, my dad didn`t like the cake because he said it was too sweet.  He admits it was a good cake, but it wasn`t his cup of tea. So, don`t let that keep you from making this cake if you`re interested!

I noted that this cake took me two days to make. I baked the cake on the first day and made everything else the next day. I am nowhere near perfect at making cakes, as this was totally new to me. But the directions are what I did to make the cake pictured above. :)

Chinese Bakery Cake/Sponge Cake

Adapted from: Pocket Daydreams
Yields: 1 - 6in x 5in 4 layered cake; ~8 servings
Level: Medium-Hard
Total Time: ~ 4-6 hours, including some downtime

Materials Needed:
-          freezer, refrigerator, oven and stovetop
-          3 heat safe small bowls
-          2 large bowls
-          1-2 Small saucepan(s)
-          2 Whisks
-          2 rubber spatulas
-          1 offset spatula
-          1 pastry brush
-          parchment paper
-          electric mixer/stand mixer
-          Saran wrap/plastic wrap
-          1 cutting board
-          1 knife
-          paper towels
-          2 9inch x 9inch baking pan (1, if you`re making a 2 layered cake)
-          small cake board (optional)

§  1 large egg
§  1 cup whole milk (divide: 1/4 cup + 3/4 cup)
§  1/4 cup granulated sugar
§  1/4 cup all purpose flour
§  1/8 teaspoon salt
§  1 teaspoon vanilla (1/2 a vanilla pod)
Sponge Cake:
§  3/4 cups cake flour
§  12 tablespoons superfine sugar (divide: 6 tablespoon + 6 tablespoon)
§  6 large egg whites, room temperature
§  6 large egg yolks, room temperature
§  1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
§  1 1/2 tablespoons milk
§  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (1/2 a vanilla pod)
§  Syrup: 1 tablespoon sugar + 2 tablespoons water
Glaze for fruit:
§  1/2 teaspoon gelatin powder
§  2 1/2 teaspoon cold water
§  1/2 pound berries (I used strawberries and raspberries)
Whipped Cream Frosting:
§  2 tablespoons cold water
§  1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
§  2 cups heavy whipping cream
§  1/2 vanilla bean
§  3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1.      In a bowl, combine the egg and 1/4 cup milk
2.      In a medium saucepan, heat the all purpose flour over medium heat for a few minutes
3.      Mix in the sugar and salt and
4.      Add 3/4 cup milk and stir until mixture is smooth.
5.      Heat the milk mixture until it boils, making sure to constantly stir with a wooden spoon. (You will see big bubbles popping up)
6.      Heat mixture for about 2 more minutes so it thickens and remove it from the heat.
7.      Add the egg mixture from step 1 while whisking to combine.
8.      Heat the mixture until it begins boiling.
9.      Remove mixture from heat.
10.  Add vanilla.
11.  Transfer to a bowl and wrap it (touching the top) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Sponge Cake:
12.  Preheat oven to 340F.
13.  Line baking pans with parchment paper.
14.  Beat 6 tablespoons of sugar with the egg yolks until you get a pale yellow color.
15.  In another bowl, beat the egg whites until it's starts to form peaks. (but, still drippy)
16.  Add the 6 tablespoons sugar, white still whipping the egg whites until firm peaks
17.  Carefully fold 1/2 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
18.  Slowly add the flour and mix.
19.  Then, add the oil and milk, combine.
20.  Fold in remaining egg whites
21.  Add vanilla bean.
22.  Divide batter into two pans.
23.  Bake until tops are browned, 18 min. (regular time: 20-25min)
Whipped Cream Frosting:
24.  Make sure to freeze your mixing bowl and beaters for at least 10 minutes.
25.  Meanwhile, in a heat safe small bowl, add the cold water and gelatin and let it sit for 5 minutes, until it turns clear and thick.
26.  Set the small bowl in a saucepan with simmering water and stir the gelatin until it's in liquid form.
27.  Take mixing bowl and beaters from the freezer and quickly add the heavy whipping cream.
28.  With your electric mixer, beat the cream until it starts to thicken and beaters leave a trail in the cream.
29.  Add the vanilla bean, powdered sugar, and gelatin and beat cream until stiff peaks.
Glaze Fruits:
30.  Wash and dry your berries. Cut strawberries, leaving a few to top the cake.
31.  Soak 1 teaspoon of gelatin in 3 tablespoons of cold water in a heat safe bowl and set aside for 5 minutes.
32.  Set the bowl in a saucepan with simmering water and stir the gelatin until it's in liquid form/melted.
33.  Dip fruits, one at a time, into the glaze and set on parchment paper.
34.  Refrigerate until use.
35.  When you're ready to assemble the cake: Cut the cake sheets to even sides because cake will shrink inward. (I sliced each cake sheet in half to get a total of 4 layers.)
36.  Carefully peel off the brown layers that are on top of the cake with a knife. (Optional, it looks prettier without it. It's also easier to do the next day.)
37.  Make syrup for the cake by mixing together the 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons water.
38.  Place a small sheet of parchment paper at the bottom of the first layer and surround the sides with more, so your plate will be clean after frosting.
39.  Using a pastry brush, brush the simple syrup on all sides of the cake.
40.  Spread custard on top of the bottom layer.
41.  Arrange sliced strawberries and raspberries on top of the custard. **Make sure berries are leveled, or else cake will be slanted. I placed a raspberry in each corner and diced strawberries in between.**
42.  Top with another layer of cake.
43.  Repeat steps 40 and 41 until your cake is complete.
44.  Using an offset spatula, do a crumb coat by spreading a thin layer of whipped cream frosting.
45.  Place in freezer for about 30 minutes, or until frosting is set.
46.  Frost the rest of the cake, starting from the top and then move to the sides. (Place about 1 cup of frosting on top, and spread the frosting evenly onto the four sides.)
47.  Top finished cake with glaze fruit.
48.  Refrigerate until serving.

*I made this cake in two days. I baked the cake on the first day. Once cake was completely cooled, I wrapped each cake sheet in parchment paper and plastic wrap and refrigerated them. The next day I made the custard, glaze, whipped cream frosting, and assembled the cake. I didn't eat the cake until the third day.*


  1. Aw you're such a sweet daughter! This cake is beautiful and I think it is so amazing that you tackled a layer cake (I'm still a little leery...I'll get there eventually :P)

  2. What a special treat for your dad. This cake is absolutely beautiful! Great job.

  3. I also have problem with sweet American cake actually and always prefer Japanese/Chinese bakery cake. Not so sugary and sweetness is gentle. :) Your sponge cake looks so fluffy and delicious!

  4. you did a wonderful job, attempting a layer cake for your dad ^^ the frosting looks really neat.. well done, lynna! (^^)

  5. Great recipes! It looks very yummy. I will try to make one for my dad's bday eventhough I'm not really good a baking :D

  6. You made a beautiful cake darling!! Layer cakes are definitely some work but the final product is sooooo yummy :) Your dad is a lucky guy!

  7. Wow, just looking at the ingredients and directions list makes me see how time consuming this is. That's so sweet of you! Too bad your dad didn't like it. My mom is the same way: she thinks everything I make is too sweet

  8. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. best bakeries in scottsdale az