Saturday 2 August 2014

Sunflower and Ladybug Chiffon Cake with Strawberries and Cream

My friend wanted a sunflower cake for her little girl made in a similar style as the cake I made for her boy about 2 months ago. Here's my version of sunflower cake with strawberries and cream!

Check out the cute ladybug!

This cake is made using chiffon only and the name is made from cookies. As usual, our cakes are fondant-free as far as possible. My friend and her family love the combination of fresh strawberries and cream with the cake so that is added in too. It's quite a lot of work to make this cake and it took me a few days to complete it, including the cookies. But when everything is assembled, there's a great sense of satisfaction :).

Check out this link to find out how I made the brown sugar cookies for the name using fresh beetroot juice as natural coloring.

Vanilla sponge for two 7" round cake bases
3 large egg yolks (65g)
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
Green and brown gel food coloring

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

Vanilla sponge for flower, leaves and ladybug
2 large egg yolks
10g sugar
25g oil
36g fresh milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
40g cake flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Pinch of charcoal powder
Pinch of red powder food coloring
1/2 tsp chocolate paste (dissolve 1 tsp of cocoa powder in about 1/2-3/4 tsp of warm milk)
Green, golden yellow and brown* gel food coloring *(Brown is added so that the colors don't turn out neon bright but appear slightly more earthy.)

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

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line two 7" round tins with baking sheet and wrap cake strips on the outside (optional but it helps the cake to rise beautifully and have a flatter top. I made mine using wet newspaper wrapped with aluminum foil).

2. Prepare the egg yolk batter for the cake base. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until sugar has dissolved and it turns pale. Add oil and whisk until thick and well combined. Add milk and vanilla extract and mix well. Gradually add in sifted flour, salt and baking powder and whisk until no trace of flour is seen. Add a bit of brown coloring and some green and mix well.

3. Prepare the meringue for the cake base. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites until foamy with an electric mixer. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and you can overturn the bowl without the meringue falling out.

4. Fold in the meringue in three additions. Scoop the batter into the two 7" pans and level it with a spatula of spoon. Tap the pans on the table to release any trapped bubbles.

5. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius and bake for another 15-17 minutes. (Bake for 20-25 minutes if you are not using cake strips.) Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes before gently unmoulding my spatula or hand. Cool on rack with a baking sheet over it. You may wrap the cakes in cling wrap and store in airtight container before freezing it until it is time to assemble.

Freshly baked!

6. Making the rest of the cake requires more work and equipment but you may make do with whatever pans or trays that you have as a lot of it involves cutting up the cake anyway. I used a silicone ice cube tray with round bottom for the ladybug's head, a small round-bottomed glass bowl (5cm tall and 6.5cm in diameter) for the bug's body, 4.5" round pan for the center of the flower, 6" square pan for the leaves and 10" square pan. Line the square and round pans with baking sheet.

7. Prepare the egg yolk batter in a similar way as step 2 except that you don't add any coloring. Scoop out the egg yolk batter and add coloring in the following manner:
Black: 1 tsp egg yolk batter + charcoal powder
Red: 1 tsp egg yolk batter + red color powder (or red gel coloring)
Brown: 1 tsp egg yolk batter + 1/2 tsp chocolate paste
Green: 4 tsp egg yolk batter + brown and green food coloring
Yellow: the rest of the egg yolk batter + yellow and a bit of brown food coloring

8. Prepare the meringue in the same way as step 3. If your oven is not big enough to accomodate all the trays/bowls, then prepare 1 egg white worth of meringue first and bake the black, red, brown and green batters.  Bake the yellow batter later and prepare 2 egg whites worth of meringue separately. Fold in 2 heaped tablespoons of meringue for each teaspoon of egg yolk batter.

9.  Pour and fill the respective moulds/ pans except for brown, which is just a thin layer of batter. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for:
Black: 14-15 minutes
Red: 16-18 minutes
Brown: 8-10 minutes
Green: 14-15 minutes
Yellow: 14-15 minutes

Test for doneness with a toothpick. The timings are a rough estimate.

Immediately invert the glass bowl and ice cube tray to cool. Carefully unmould by hand when completely cooled. Immediately remove the flat layer cakes from the tin and gently peel off the baking sheet.  Place another baking sheet over and let it cool completely.

10. Prepare the pieces of cake for the various parts:

Flower petals: Cut the petals using a small sharp knife. I used a template cut from clear plastic sheet to help me cut out neat petals. I cut a total of 24 petals. 16 on the bottom row and 8 on the top row.

Flower center: Use a round cookie cutter (mine was about 4.7 cm in diameter) to cut out a circle. Paint the center black with a light brown ring around it. I used charcoal, cocoa powder and milk powder dissolved in water for painting using a toothpick.

Ladybug: Slice off a bit of the black cake such that it forms a nice head for the bug. Cut a bit of the red cake so that the black cake can fit nicely. Melt some marshmellows with a sprinkle of water to use as glue to stick the head and body together. Dissolve some charcoal in water and use a straw and toothpick to make the markings of the bug. Fill in and touch up with a toothpick.

Leaves: Divide the square cake into 4 smaller squares and cut them into leaf shapes. I apologise for not having any photos of this as I was in a rush.

Remember to keep any small cut-up parts covered to prevent them from drying out. If you are not assembling immediately, you may keep the pieces wrapped and frozen. As for the painted pieces like ladybug and flower center, keep them in airtight container at room temperature to dry out the paint.

Assembling sunflower cake
Cake bases and various sunflower parts
200ml whip topping (or dairy cream. Add 2tbs of icing sugar if using dairy cream.)
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 tbs cool water
Fresh strawberries, halved or quartered

Royal icing sugar
Some boiled water

1. Prepare the cream. Sprinkle gelatin over 1 tbs of water and let it sit for a couple of minutes, then microwave on medium high for 20 seconds. Warm up 1 tbs of cream and add it to the gelatin mixture. Use an electric mixer to whip the cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add gelatin mixture and beat until firm peaks form.

2. Arrange bottom row of 16 petals on top of one of the cake bases. Melt marshmellows with a bit of water to use as glue to stick the petals onto the cake base.

3. Stick the top row of petals using marshmellow glue.

4. Fill the flower center with some cream.

5. Cover the center with the brown flower center and stick the ladybug in with marshmellow glue.

6. Place the other cake base on the cake board. Apply one layer of cream, position the leaves and put strawberries, and finally top with another layer of cream.

7. Carefully place the top piece of the cake base over the cream. Prepare some royal icing by dissolving royal icing sugar in some water to make a glue for the cookies. Apply the royal icing on the base of the cookies and stick them on the cake board.

Finally all done! *phew*

The assembled top piece of cake looked so pretty I have to share!

Verdict was... "As usual, the cake tastes very nice! But visually the flower centre can be bigger."

I will make a bigger brown centre for the sunflower if there's a next time :). Glad to know at least the cake is yummy.

 This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Bake for Happy Kids and My Little Favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from the Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

With love,
Phay Shing


  1. Wow Phay Shing, this is indeed a labour of love. So much effort went into the making of this cake!!

    1. Thanks Diana :). It was a personal challenge too, to see if it is possible to create something without relying on fondant.

  2. Hi Phay Shing, well ... Next comes the butterfly ... Caterpillar ... Your sunflower attracts not only ladybug!

    1. Hi Karen, I am just thankful that it's not butterfly or caterpillar that was requested for my first try! Ladybugs are easier.... I think :p

  3. Hi Phay Shing,
    This is such a lovely cake.
    Love the lady bug a lot :D