Saturday 31 May 2014

Elephant Birthday Cake: Vanilla Chiffon with Rainbow Fruits and Cookie Birthday Message

This birthday cake is for a little boy who loves elephants, pink color and fruits :). He called elephants Dan Dan when he started to talk so his mummy thought this personal birthday message for him will be nice. Aquila also has some level of dairy and soy intolerance so some special care was taken in choosing the ingredients for this bake. Presenting my cutie pie pink vanilla chiffon elephant packed with rainbow colored fresh fruits and special cookie birthday message!

It is our baking philosophy to minimize the use of fondant and buttercream to cover and decorate whole cakes (unless requested) so it's quite a challenge to decorate the cake. I made my trial bakes for the elephant cake and brown sugar cookies a few weeks ago. I used the same recipe for the cookies but changed the flavor of cake from black sesame to vanilla as Aquila's mum requested for a color change. No point sticking with black sesame flavor then. So I will only type out the recipe for the vanilla chiffon and assembly instructions.

I baked the cookies and kept them in an airtight container two days before assembly.

 There is a lot of leftover cookie dough but I prefer it that way as I didn't have to re-roll the dough to cut out more letters. So what did I do with the excess dough? Keep a lookout for my next blog post ;). You may half the recipe for cookie dough if you don't intend to use the cookie dough for another bake.

Vanilla chiffon sponge for 10" square pan
3 egg yolks
15g caster sugar
36g canola oil
54g fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g cake flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/5 tsp baking powder
Few drops liquid red food coloring

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
48g caster sugar

Vanilla sponge for 7" round pan
2 egg yolks
10g caster sugar
24g canola oil
36g fresh milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
40g cake flour
Pinch of salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
Few drops of liquid red food coloring

3 egg whites
1/5 tsp cream of tartar
32g caster sugar

Meringue for pattern
1 egg white
15g caster sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar

Black pattern
2 tsp egg yolk batter
3/4 tsp cake flour
1/4 tsp charcoal powder
6-8 tbs meringue

Red pattern
1 tsp egg yolk batter
1/2 tsp cake flour
Red gel food coloring
3-4 tbs meringue

White pattern
1 tsp egg yolk batter
1/2 tsp cake flour
White food coloring
3-4 tbs meringue

200ml whip topping (you may use dairy cream but if you do, add 2tbs of icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence when whipping the cream)
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 tbs cool water

Some fruits like strawberries, peaches,  kiwi and blueberries, cut to small pieces.

1. Line bottom of 10" square pan with elephant template.

Place a silicone mat (or baking sheet if you don't have) over the template and grease with oil. Line base of 7" round pan with baking sheet. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
2. Prepare the egg yolk batter for 10" square pan. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Whisk in oil, milk and vanilla essence. Sift in flour, salt and baking powder gradually to avoid lumps.
3. Scoop out the egg yolk batter for the black, white and red patterns. Mix everything in the colored batters well. Add red and white coloring until desired shade is reached.
4. Prepare meringue for pattern. Beat egg white until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
5. Fold meringue into pattern batters in three additions.

Transfer colored batter into piping bags fitted with wilton #3 tip for black and white, and #5 for red.
6. Pipe the black features and bake for 1.5 minutes. Pipe the white and red features and bake for 2.5 minutes. Bake for half a minute more if patterns are not dry.
7. Add red food coloring to main egg yolk batter until desired shade of pink is reached.
8. Prepare meringue for main batter in a similar manner as the pattern meringue. Fold meringue into egg yolk batter in three additions. Pour batter into 10" square pan and tap on the table a few times to release air bubbles.
9. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius and bake for another 12 minutes. Remove from oven, invert the cake onto a baking sheet placed onto cooling rack. Gently peel off silicone mat and cool the cake with another baking sheet over the patterns.
10. Bake 7" round cake in a similar manner as the bigger 10" square cake. Baking time is 160 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes followed by 150 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Invert to cool.
** You may wish to bake both square and round cakes together if you have a big oven. Just prepare one batter using 5 egg yolk recipe and portion the batter accordingly into the pans.
11. Cut out the elephant and body parts from the square cake with a serrated knife at right angles to the cake surface. Cut a 6" circle (for the bottom piece of the elephant's body) from the cake baked in 7" round pan with the serrated knife.
12. Prepare the cream. (If you are not assembling the cake on the same day, store in airtight container or in freezer if you are assembling more than 2 days later). Sprinkle gelatin powder over the water in a small microwavable bowl and let it sit for 2 minutes.  Microwave on medium-high for 20 seconds or until gelatin is dissolved and set aside. Take 2 tbs of whip topping (or dairy cream) and heat until warm. Add this to the gelatin mixture and set aside. Whip the whip topping until firm peaks form. Gradually add in gelatin mixture and keep whipping until all the gelatin has been added.
13. Transfer the cream into a piping bag. Assemble the bottom layer of the elephant ( trunk, legs, tail and round 6" cake) onto a 12 x 12" cake board. Pipe the cream onto the cake, following the contour of the elephant.

14. Prepare the fruits and place them on the cake.

Pipe another layer of cream over the fruits and top with the elephant cake.

15. Prepare some royal icing. I used the just-add-water type. Apply a bit of royal icing onto the base of the cookies and stick them around the elephant onto the cake board.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours and it's finally done!

Thank God I received good reviews for the cake!

For those of you who can't read Chinese, "越吃越好吃" means "the more you eat, the nicer it tastes".

I had leftover cookie dough, 3 egg yolks, some cream and fruits from this bake. I made some matcha ice-cream with the leftover cream and a yummy fruit tart with the rest of the leftovers. Will blog about the tart next :).

With love,
Phay Shing

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