Friday 15 August 2014

Longevity Peach Pandan Kaya Cake

My friend requested for a longevity peach birthday cake. I was hesitant to agree to bake this at first as I knew that it would be tricky to form the shape of peaches without using fondant. In some cases, they were not cakes at all but steamed buns. When I had an inspiration and came up with decent longevity peaches made in the form of snowskin mooncakes, I was more confident that it's possible to make this without relying on fondant. Here's my longevity peach pandan kaya cake!

I chose pandan kaya as the cake flavor as I feel that this mellow Asian flavor goes well with the mature theme of longevity peach. My previous pandan kaya bake was very well received so I will be using the same recipe for the fudge but change the pandan cake to a regular pandan chiffon recipe instead of using the cooked dough method. This elimimates the use of butter too.

Making this cake involves baking the pandan cake layers, baking the patterned cake (for the words), making the snowskin peach mooncakes, making the pandan kaya fudge and assembling everything. As you can see this involves many steps so needless to say, this took me a few days to complete as I have other duties as well. This will be a long post so bear with me :p. If you are making a simple pandan kaya cake you can skip all the unnecessary instructions.

Recipe for making pandan juice
16-20 pandan leaves (I didn't actually count but used 2 small bunches.)
100ml cool boiled water

1. Wash and cut the leaves into 1cm pieces.
2. Place the leaves together with water in a blender and blend until the leaves become mush.
3. Sieve the blended leaves with a fine meshed sieve.
4. Place the blended leaves in a clean cloth and squeeze as hard as you can to extract as much juice as you can. Discard the leaves.
5. Let the juice collected settle in a transparent bowl/container in the fridge for a couple of days. Use the dark green part settled at the bottom for the 9" pandan cake layers and the top clear liquid for the patterned pandan cake.

Recipe for two 9" round pandan cake layers
Pandan egg yolk batter
4 large egg yolks
20g caster sugar
46g vegetable oil
25g pandan juice
42g coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pandan flavoring (optional)
76g cake flour
1/8 tsp salt

6 egg whites*(divide ingredients for meringue into 2)
60g sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.**( Preheat to 160 degrees Celsius if you are using an aluminium pan. I only had a black non-stick 9" springform pan so the temperature has to be lower to avoid over browning). Line the base of the tin with baking sheet.
2. Prepare the egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and all the sugar has dissolved. Add oil and whisk until thick and well combined. Add pandan juice, coconut milk, vanilla extract, pandan flavoring and salt. Mix until well combined. Gradually add in sifted flour and whisk until no trace of flour is seen.

3. Divide the egg yolk batter into 2 equal portions.
4. Prepare one portion of meringue (3 egg whites). In a clean metal bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and the bowl can be overturned without the meringue falling out.
5. Fold the meringue into one portion of egg yolk batter in three additions. Fold until no trace of egg white is seen but be careful not to deflate the egg whites by using quick but gentle strokes.

6. Slowly pour the batter into the 9" pan to pop any trapped air bubbles. Tap the pan a few times on the table to release any more trapped air.
7. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until skewer comes clean. Let it cool for a couple of minutes in the pan before turning it out onto cooling rack to cool. Cool the cake with a fresh sheet of baking sheet over it.

I love the natural green color!

8. Repeat steps 4-7 for the other cake.

You may store the cakes in the freezer after wrapping them in cling wrap and storing in airtight bag/ container until it is time to assemble.

Recipe for patterned pandan cake
You will end up having excess cake but for simplicity I just used the same recipe and portion as the above, except that I used the clear liquid of the pandan juice instead of the dark green part. Portion of ingredients for cake base is the same as the above.

Ingredients for pattern:
Red batter
1/4 tsp beet root juice powder (replace with red gel food coloring if you don't have)
1/2 tsp cake flour
1 tsp egg yolk batter (taken from main batter)
3 tbs meringue

Black batter
1/4 tsp charcoal powder
1/4 tsp cake flour
1 tsp egg yolk batter
3 tbs meringue

Meringue for pattern
1 egg white
A pinch of cream of tartar
10g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line base of 10" square cake pan with template and baking sheet over template. Grease the baking sheet with oil.
2. Make the egg yolk batter using the 2 yolk 3 egg white recipe in the previous section (just half everything).
3. Prepare the red and black batter by first mixing all ingredients well excluding the meringue. Prepare the meringue for the pattern and fold into each colored batter.

4. Transfer the colored batter into piping bags fitted with wilton #3 tip. Pipe the patterns following the template. Usually I would pipe a thick layer to ensure good transfer of pattern onto cake but because the details are fine,  I couldn't do so to prevent smudging (I have backup plan for touching up if it turns out ugly.)
5. Bake for 1.5-2 minutes or until dry.

I must admit that the final one wasn't this one. I overbaked this one and re-did the pattern. Didn't take photo of the second attempt.
6. Prepare the meringue for the main batter. Fold in in three additions. Transfer a small amount into piping bag and pipe the batter into spaces between details that are fine in the pattern to prevent air bubbles from forming. Slowly pour the rest of the batter over. Tap the pan a few times on the table to release trapped air.
7. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Immediately remove cake from pan and gently peel baking sheet off. Cool with another sheet over it.
8. Cut the design out, wrap with cling wrap and store in freezer until time to assemble.

This is not perfect especially since it's made from second round of patterning and the batter had been in the piping bag for a few minutes. But this will do fine with some touching up after assembly. Still learning :).

Recipe for longevity peach snowskin mooncake

Please refer to my previous post for this. I won't type it out here to prevent this post from being uncecessarily long. The only difference was I boiled some water with pandan leaves instead of using pandan flavoring. Just to share some photos...

Recipe for pandan kaya fudge
478g coconut milk
250ml pandan water (boil a few leaves with 1L of water)
115g caster sugar
1/2 tbs + 3/8 tsp agar powder
1/2 tsp liquid green food coloring
1/6 tsp liquid yellow food coloring

47g custard powder
250ml water
1/6 tsp salt

1. Mix (B) and stir well.
2. Mix (A) in a sauce pan and bring to a boil using low heat. Keep stirring.
3. Gradually pour (B) into (A) while stirring continously. It is important to pour slowly and stir continously to avoid lumps in the custard. Stir (B) before pouring into (A) as the custard powder would have settled. Cook until mixture thickens a bit.

Assembling cake
1. Place the patterned cake top side down in the 9" springform pan and carefully pour some fudge around and over it using a ladle. Cover the cake until the fudge layer is level.
2. Place a plain pandan cake in the pan and carefully scoop some fudge to cover the space between the cake and pan. Cover the cake with fudge until completely covered.
3. Place the other piece of pandan cake in the pan and fill the sides with fudge. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

4. Carefully unmould the cake from the springform pan and place the cake on cakeboard. I accidentally made a hole in the fudge when removing the base. *Sigh* have to touch up later.

5. As my patterned cake needed touching up, this was the time to do so. This step is optional if you have done the previous steps perfectly. I made some red paint using milk powder, beet root juice powder, red gel coloring and water. The black paint was made using charcoal powder and water. I added a black border to the words to improve contrast and used a brighter shade of red. Starting to look better *phew*. I melted some leftover fudge with low heat over the stove and patched the hole in the fudge.
6. Add dessicated coconut onto the cake on the sides and top (optional).
7. Arrange some longevity peaches on top. Use toothpicks to anchor the peaches to the cake and warn the cake recipients about it ;).

Finished at last! Be sure to keep the cake in the fridge until ready to serve.

My friend said the cake was delicious and has kindly taken some photos of the cake. Here's how it looks like sliced.

There was a pastry chef at the birthday party who sampled the cake and this was his comment:

 "Sponge cake is soft,  texture is very smooth, side coconut flakes are of right quantity not overkilled, pandan kaya fragrance significant!"

He gave a thumbs up! :D The cake was finished quickly and the kids snapped up all the peaches.

Thank God it was well received even though there were hiccups along the way!

With love,
Phay Shing

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