Tuesday 25 February 2014

Lemon Bees Chiffon Cake and Cupcakes

Ever since I started baking chiffon cakes in glass bowls, I dreamed of making cute animals using these bowls. The most common hemispherical shaped ones are ladybugs and bees. Susanne beat me to it to create really cute ladybugs so I am left with the bees. Here's Mama bee with her three baby bees :)

This was a bake that I nearly gave up because Murphy's Law was at work more than once. I originally wanted to make black sesame flavored stripes for the bees but the bake turned out horribly wrong and I threw away that batch. Not wanting to face another failure, I decided to color the lemon batter black to create the stripes. I didn't portion enough yellow batter so Mama bee ended up looking a bit short and I had a mishap unmolding the big chiffon cake. Thank goodness the royal icing wings were big enough to cover up the ugly surface. I am just relieved that the end  product looks somewhat cute :P. I used Susanne's technique of using another cake as separators to create the stripes. So inspired by her awesome rainbow bake that I wanted to try it!

This is the basic recipe for lemon chiffon cake that I used:

Egg yolk batter
2 egg yolks
15g caster sugar
22g Canola oil
16g lemon juice
16g water
1 tsp lemon zest
37g cake flour
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
(Black and yellow gel food coloring)

3 egg whites
35g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a 10 x 10" tin with baking sheet.
2. Whisk egg yolk and caster sugar until well combined. Add in oil, followed by lemon juice and zest.
3. Whisk sifted flour into the batter bit by bit until there is no trace of flour.
4. Add black food coloring bit by bit until a desired shade of orange is reached. Take note that the shade will lighten up considerably when the meringue is added in so you may want to make it a darker shade than desired.
5. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer. When soft peaks are formed, gradually add in sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed and the bowl can be overturned without the meringue falling out.
6. Add one third of the meringue into the egg yolk batter and mix well. Fold in gently but quickly the rest of meringue in 2 additions until there is no trace of egg whites.
7. Pour the batter into the square tin and bake for 15-16 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool with a baking sheet covering it.
8. Cut out the stripe patterns for inserting into the chiffon tin and glass bowls. Use a ruler to measure the dimensions required.
9. Prepare the yellow batter in a similar manner as the black batter, except that you have to convert the above recipe to a 4 egg yolks and 5 egg whites portion. I used 3 yolks and 4 whites, and there was not enough yellow batter for the big cake.
10. Carefully pour the yellow batter into the tin and bowls, using a chopstick to release any trapped air bubbles at the boundary of the batter and black cake.
11. Bake for 20 minutes and reduce the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius. Bake the cupcakes for another 8-10 minutes and the big cake for another 25 minutes. Invert the chiffon tin immediately to cool. Remove the cakes by using the hand unmolding technique. Here's my cakes after baking them:

See my unmolding mishap? Bad days do happen :P.
12. Prepare some royal icing sugar and pipe the eyes and wings of the bees on a baking sheet. You may draw the features on the reverse side of the sheet to help you. I used the just-add-water type of royal icing sugar. If you do not have it, you may prepare the royal icing sugar this way. Prepare a small portion of royal icing sugar to color it black. Pipe some of it to form the mouth of the baby bees.
13. Dry the royal icing features THOROUGHLY before attempting to remove them from the baking sheet. I dried them in the oven for over an hour at 80 degrees Celsius, then cooled them for another hour at room temperature. GENTLY peel the baking sheet away from the icing features. Place the features on the bees. You may use a bit of royal icing sugar to glue them on or if you are lazy, some Nutella will do :).
14. If you would like rosy cheeks on the baby bees, prepare some icing sugar colored with pink gel food coloring. Drop a drop or two of water to wet the icing sugar a little and then use a food brush to paint the pink sugar on the bees' cheeks.

Yes, it is a lot of work! I am really glad that my kids loved the cupcake bees and finished them really quickly. It was a whole day's worth of work what with all the mishaps along the way.

A cut-up view of one of the baby bees and a small corner of mummy bee....

This type of cake is perfect for flavor combinations that go well together. Maybe on better days, I might attempt making chocolate and lemon bees...

With love,
Phay Shing

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