I don't bake cakes much. I prefer cookies, and perhaps cupcakes, but not cakes all that much. First is because a cake just feels so big. It seems as if we would take forever to finish it. Second reason is probably because my cakes never turn out all that well, most of the time. I much prefer a fudgy brownie, or a crunchy cookie. Cakes just taste so... cakey. :P
But anyway, that doesn't stop me from fliiping through cake recipe books, wanting to try maybe this cake, or ooh, that one? In one of Ibu's books called "The Creative Making of Cakes" by Alex Goh, one cake in particular caught my eye - the Japanese Cotton Sponge Cake. Not only does it have a lovely name (I am attracted to all things Japanese, haha), the picture of the cake looked especially tempting. It looked really really soft, yet was supposed to be moist in texture. If there's anything I can't stand, it's dry cakes. The four star difficulty rating didn't really deter me, haha. We decided to make it anyway. So here we go!
What you need:
80 mL evaporated milk
5 egg yolks
5 egg whites
Pinch of salt
What you do:
- Grease and line a swiss roll pan (we used a 10-inch square pan). Preheat the oven to 170 C.
- Melt the butter, then add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until well-blended.
- Add in the evaporated milk and mix until well combined.
- Next, add in the single egg and the five egg yolks and mix until well-blended.
- In another bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the suagr and the salt. Continue to beat until it forms stiff peaks.
- Carefully fold in the egg white batter with the egg yolk batter. Add in a tablespoonful to the egg yolk batter to loosen it first, then fold the rest in until well-incorporated. Be careful not to overmix and deflate the mixture.
- Pour it into the prepared pan and bake in the middle rack of the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cake feels firm.
- Unmould immediately after it is baked and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- When it is cold, cut into two horizontal layers and sandwich together with butter cream. Serve, dusted with icing sugar, if you wish.
Throughout the baking time, I kept peeking anxiously through the oven window (never open the oven door when a cake is baking, a major no-no). To say that I was worried it would not turn out well would be an understatement. At first, I wondered how it would rise without the use of a raising agent in the batter, but that question was soon pushed out of my mind when I saw the cake puffing up beautifully in the oven. I guess those are the egg whites at work. :D
Just under half an hour later, the cake was out of the oven and onto the cooling rack. And as promised, the texture was beeee-you-tifully soft. Pressing your fingertips on it felt like patting the finest grade feather pillow, hehe. When you actually ate it, it practically melted in your mouth - and not in dry crumbs either. I loved the texture of the cake!
The sharp-eyed among you might spot that the bottom part of the cake is not that airy though. I am unsure as to why that is, but am thinking that maybe we didn't incorporate it fully as we were really scared of deflating the egg whites. :P But, doesn't matter anyway, as there wasn't that big a difference in texture as far as I could tell. Also, unlike the picture in the book (ahem), the airholes in my cake were uneven in size. Again, unsure why that happened, but not a big deal, I suppose.
Initially, we were't planning on sandwiching the cake with buttercream. But although the texture of the cake was gorgeous, taste-wise it was actually a bit plain. Quite eggy, from the SIX eggs in there, and not much else. I experimented with different fillings first - tried jam and nutella, but ultimately decided to use buttercream. Which turned out to be a waste as I couldn't actually taste it, even with a thick layer! Sigh. Never mind.
So in the end, I am unsure as to what to think about this cake. While we all loved the texture, it tasted like a plain sponge cake to me. Of the fillings I tried, I actually think jam tasted the best, but since my sisters don't like jam, I decided to go for the buttercream. Which turned out to be a dud anyway. Ah well, you can't win 'em all. :) At least the cake turned out (almost) perfectly.
Quote of the day: Birthdays are nature's way of telling us to eat more cake.