Chinese Style Sponge Cake with Fruit, Mousse, and Whipped Cream
My mother’s birthday was fast approaching and I wanted to do something special for her. For as long as I can remember, ever since I was a little girl, my parents would always buy me a special kind of birthday cake…it was typically a light, airy sponge cake filled with an equally light cream and fresh fruit, and topped with a whipped cream icing. As an adult, the only time I had ever seen this sort of cake was from Chinatown or a Chinese style bakery…thus it became known to me as the Chinese style sponge cake. This is what I decided I was going to make for Mom for her birthday to bring a sweet nostalgic air to the festivities.
Different from your typical sponge cake, chinese style sponge is very light and airy and isn’t nearly as sweet as its american counterparts. Most get their first taste of this style of sponge cake as a jelly roll very frequently sold in almost every asian supermarket…a thin layer of sponge cake rolled with a thin layer of whipped cream. Try it the next time you’re out shopping and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s very light and not cloyingly sweet at all.
Back to the birthday cake plans. So I had decided to make this lovely cake complete with fresh fruits and whipped cream, the problem was figuring out HOW? What I hadn’t counted on though was just how darn hard it was to find a recipe for this! After scouring the internet for what seemed like ages, I finally found a few sites and was able to cobble together a game plan! I selected a few fruits to run with and decided instead of just using the vanilla custard that most recipes seemed to point to as the filling, I decided to go one extra step and use vanilla mousse. Let me tell you guys…it was stroke of genius time!! The mousse was a great choice and really made this cake go from delicious to badass awesome.
Next came the matter of the whipped cream icing. For anyone who’s made whipped cream from scratch before, you know that after a few hours it deflates. The question now was how to stabilize the cream so that after I worked my butt off to pipe it, it wouldn’t just deflate into a has-been whipped cream soggy mess? Some people suggest merigue powder while others suggested powdered pudding mix to add to the cream before whipping. After additional research, I found what I will now call the whipped cream stabilizer equalizer ™…Dr. Oetker’s Whip It! It does sort of sound like some bad rip off of Michael Jackson’s Beat It! but who cares? Because guys, this stuff works! Even after 2 days, my whipped cream icing never de-evolved into a scary cream monster blob! Problem solved!
After figuring out my game plan, it was time to execute and I have to say that all in all, this wasn’t too hard to pull off. The cake came together without too much ado and the end results were well worth the couple of weeks of research and preparation. Mom was totally surprised and the cake tasted great! Light and airy as promised, the fresh fruit provided a great pairing and further echoed the bright mood of the cake. It was a good birthday for Mom :)
Chinese Style Sponge Cake with Fruit, Mousse, and Whipped Cream
Adapted from Pocket Daydreams
1 box of Dr. Oetker’s Vanilla Mousse Mix
1 cup milk
Butter and cake flour for greasing pans
3/4 cups of cake flour
3/4 cups of superfine sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature, separated into yolks and whites
1-1/2 tbsp canola oil
1-1/2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 baking pans (9″ in diameter)
Simple syrup (1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp water)
For Stabilized Whipped Cream icing:
2 cups (1 pint) of chilled heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp of confectioner’s sugar
2 packets Dr. Oetker’s Whip It!
Assorted fruit cut into small bite sized pieces (I used a mix of strawberries, cantaloupe, and mangoes)
The night before you plan to make the cake, prepare the mousse according to package instructions and refrigerate overnight.
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Butter the baking pans on the bottoms and sides. Cut out parchment paper and lay it on top of the butter. Butter parchment paper and flour the pan.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar with the egg yolks and beat until slightly thick and pale yellow. Stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they are starting to form peaks. The egg white will still be drippy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in three separate additions while continuing to whip egg whites. Continue until stiff peaks form. Combine 1/2 of the meringue with the egg yolk mixture, fold in carefully to minimize volume loss. Gradually add flour and mix gently. Add oil and milk to the batter. Fold in the remaining half of the meringue carefully.
Divide batter into the two greased pans. Tap around the pan to make sure that the batter is even and to release any air bubbles. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F until tops are a light brown. (Bake shorter in a dark, matte, or non-stick pan, and bake longer in a glass, aluminum, or other shiny pan).
While cake is baking, prepare simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves and heat until it just begins to boil.
Remove cakes from oven and leave in pan to cool to room temperature. The cake will shrink so gently cut around the edge with a knife so that it’ll shrink evenly. While cake is cooling, prepare simple syrup by dissolving sugar into water over low heat and allow to simmer for about 1 minute. Once cooled, remove cakes from pan, brush entirely with simple syrup.
To make the whipped cream icing, freeze your beaters and mixing bowl until they’re nice and cold, about 5 minutes. Add in your heavy cream and Dr. Oetker’s Whip It! and beat on high speed until beaters leave a trail in the cream and has a nice coat on the beaters. DO NOT OVERBEAT! Otherwise you’ll end up with butter!
To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer onto your cake plate and spread a generous layer of mousse onto the top of the cake layer, but do not spread it all the way out to the edges…leave a 1-1/2 inch strip along the edges without custard, because when you add the second layer it will press the custard and fillings towards the outer edge. Add prepared fruit pieces on top of the mousse, covering the entire area. Gently add any remaining mousse on top of fruit layer.
Place the second cake layer on top. Gently press layers together and wipe away any excess custard that escapes from the sides. If the cake feels dry, brush with more simple syrup.
Frost the cake with the whipped cream topping by first frosting it with a thin layer to act as a crumb coat. Be sure to fill in any gaps between the 2 layers! Place in fridge for about 5 minutes to allow it to set. This layer doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, it merely serves to keep any crumbs from pulling up when you do the real frosting work!
Use the remainder of the icing to frost your cake to your liking. I wanted to go simple and piped a shell border along the top and bottom. Top with additional fresh fruit on top. 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.