Monday, January 21, 2008

93 and a Chinese cake

*** UPDATE ***
Note from my mother:

A) I have dry cleaned the clothes you selected and ready for you to pick up at your nexrt visit.
B) Nice pictures and description in your website about the cake.
C) There are some corrections needed about the description of the cake in your website:
“… so my mom squeezed in just happiness & longevity (left out wealth/career or something like that)” -> The first word is “luck”, not “happiness”, not” left out wealth/career”. You’d better correct it.
D) Some reference info for you:
The 4 letters are (to see the Chinese characters, click the following from the manual bar: view -> encode -> try Unicode or various Chinese font options (such as Chinese traditional, Chinese simplified, etc.)
Fu2 (): Luck
Lu4 (祿): career
Shou4 (): longevity
Xi3 (): double happiness (such as wedding)
The 3 letters your grandma requested are: Fu2, Lu4, Shou4.
The 2 letters I wrote are: Fu2, Shou4
About the taro: Cantonese pronounciation is “vu3-tao2” that is close to the pronouciation of “wealthy beginning”.
I made a birthday cake for my grandmother's 93rd birthday. Here is what was requested:

- not too sweet, light
- taro (something about longevity I think?)
- fruit
- walnut exterior

That pretty much equates to a Chinese bakery cake. I ended up making a chiffon cake based on Annie's recipe (thanks!) in 3 layers, with two fillings - a taro cream, and then a vanilla custard with strawberries & kiwi. So this was my first time working with taro, and to make the filling I peeled it, cut it up into smallish pieces, boiled it, then pureed it up in my food processor. It was super gooey and thick, so I added some coconut milk and sugar, where it then became a less sticky paste. It was still pretty dense, so I whipped some cream up and folded it in to lighten the texture.

The cake turned out fairly well... although my grandma's initial reactions were that (1) it was too small, and (2) there were no Chinese characters written on it. After a quick run to the grocery store, the latter was soon fixed. Since my small cake was also covered in fruit, there wasn't much space to write the usual 3 characters, so my mom squeezed in just happiness & longevity (left out wealth/career or something like that). The only pictures I have of the inside of the cake to see the slices are blurry, so I'm not going to post them, sorry. I really need a new camera!

Not bad for my first time. A little taro root goes a long way, and I'll try experimenting with the leftovers. Chinese birthday cakes are a bit restrictive, but maybe next time I'll be able to think of something more creative. I'll also make it square/rectangular (easier to cut) and bigger with thicker layers (the cake rises as it bakes, but sinks significantly as it cools).

L: chocolate chip cookies for the kiddies, R: my mom's deft hands at work


Annie said...

hey kathy! cool!! so you ended up using the chiffon cake recipe.

yeah, that cake definitely shrinks when it cools. did you flip it upside down though? i usually flip it and then keep it on the door of the oven so it cools slowly. was it still light and moist for you? hope it turned out. i'm still trying to figure out how to get it to stay risen. i'm not sure if its my recipe (which is why i keep tweaking it). but i've tried a few others and they dont taste as good. let me know what you think, food expert ;) the cake looks beautiful btw!

kathy said...

I didn't flip it upside down, but it was still pretty light. That was my first time making any kind of chiffon, so I have no idea about tricks... although I just looked it up in the Dessert Bible, and it said that it shouldn't make a difference (inverting while cooling). I think a lot of the problem was that I did 1.5x your recipe, and divided the batter into 3 normal round pans... so maybe the cake just had nowhere to go when it was rising. No idea! If you make another one any time soon, try their recipe and let me know what happens =) haha

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup melted butter
6 yolks
1/2 cup water
2 t vanilla
9 egg whites
1 t cream of tartar

375, 30-40 min

Annie said...

ohh..kathy i just saw this. awesome, i'll definitely try this one next time. i've been looking for a different chiffon cake for awhile now. just to see.

and yeah.. it definitely doesnt work in shallow pans. i've tried that many times before (the shallow pans). there isnt enough room for the cake to rise. the deep pans are the best.

my friend has a recipe for chiffon cake as well. she said it turned out really well and stayed up after she baked it. i'll shoot that over to you once i get it from her!! :D keep the posts coming, i enjoy reading about them!