Friday 17 October 2014

'Roses' Black Glutinous Rice Chiffon Cake with Palm Sugar

My mum's friend would like a pulut hitam (black glutinous rice) chiffon cake so I made one for her, topped with chiffon roses and leaves, and decorated with gula melaka (palm sugar) flavoured royal icing :).

Yes you can make pretty chiffon roses without a mould! I borrowed the idea from making steamed rose buns. I thought since chiffon cakes are so soft and bendy, it should be possible to make chiffon roses from thin layered cakes. My dad thought gula melaka goes well with pulut hitam so I added that in to my recipe. The original pulut hitam recipe I had generated a queue for the cake so this should be good too! The amount of caster sugar in the meringue for the pulut hitam cake was reduced so that it could accommodate more palm sugar in the egg yolk batter without making the whole cake too sweet.

Recipe for roses and leaves
2 egg yolks
10g caster sugar
28g canola oil (or any vegetable oil)
34g milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pandan flavoring
40g cake flour
A pinch of salt
Pink, leaf green and juniper green gel food coloring

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


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line one 10" square tray and two 6" square trays with baking sheet.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolk and sugar until pale. Add oil and whisk until thick like mayonnaise. Add milk, pandan flavouring and vanilla extract and mix well. Gradually add in sifted flour and salt and whisk until no trace of flour is seen.

3. Divide the egg yolk batter into ratio of 3:1:1 for pink:yellow:green. Add pink colouring to the largest portion and green colouring to one of the smaller portions. If you would like your roses in one colour, just portion the egg yolk batter in the ratio of 4:1 for pink:green.

4. Prepare the meringue.  Beat egg whites in a clean metal bowl with electric mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

5. Fold the meringue into each egg yolk batter in 3 additions. I used a Chinese soup spoon to portion the meringue in the respective ratios. Not exact portions but good enough. Pour the batter into the trays and level the batter gently with a spoon or spatula.

6. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Immediately remove from pan and peel the baking sheet off gently (cakes are very thin). Place another sheet over to cool. Roll the pink and yellow cakes like a swiss roll with the baking sheets on to cool.

7. Use round cookie cutters to cut out circles from the pink and yellow cakes. Use a leaf cutter to cut out leaves from the green cake or you can cut freehand using a knife. Be sure to store the tiny pieces of cake in airtight container as you are working to prevent them from drying out. Assemble the rose by arranging the circles in a row, overlapping each other (first picture below). Roll the whole assembly as tightly as you can like a swiss roll (second picture). Slice the roll in half with a serrated knife using a gentle sawing motion... and you get 2 beautiful roses (third picture). Glue the outer petals together using melted marshmellows or if you are lazy like me, use marshmellow creme from a bottle bought from the supermarket. Store the roses in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to assemble onto the base cake.

Recipe for black glutinous rice cake with palm sugar
3 egg yolks
25g palm sugar ( Gula melaka. Pound/ blend until it breaks up into fine pieces)
35g canola oil (or any other vegetable oil)
70g coconut cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pandan flavouring
Pinches of salt
76g black glutinous rice flour
1/3 tsp charcoal powder (optional)

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
45g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C and position the rack to second lowest position. Line a 17cm chiffon tin with cake strips. This is optional but it helps your cake to rise more slowly and you get a taller cake. I used homemade ones made out of wet newspaper wrapped in aluminum foil. My batter only filled the tin to about 2/3 full but the resulting cake was almost the height of the tin after cooling.

2. Prepare the egg yolk batter and meringue in a similar manner as the above, adding the ingredients into the egg yolk batter in the order that is listed. Charcoal powder was added to make the cake appear more black so you may choose not to use it.

3. Pour the batter into the chiffon tin and tap it on the table a few times to release air bubbles. Bake at 160°C for 20 minutes, followed by 150°C for 30-40 minutes. Reduce the baking time by 5-10 minutes if you are not using cake strips. Use a spatula to lightly press the top of the cake to test if it is done. If it springs back, it is done. Immediately invert to cool after removing from the oven. Carefully unmould by hand/ spatula. This cake is softer than regular chiffon despite the high flour:liquid ratio.

Assembling the cake

1. Prepare some gula melaka royal icing. You may omit the gula melaka or choose to add more depending on your personal preference. I only used approximate measurements so pardon me for not providing the exact recipe for this. A lot of it is adding a bit of this and that until I feel the consistency is just right for piping patterns onto the cake. I just dissolved some gula melaka in hot water and used the water to add to the mixture of icing sugar and meringue powder to make the royal icing. Transfer the icing into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton #5 tip.

2. Position the flowers and leaves onto the base cake as desired. Use the royal icing to glue them into position, then pipe Arabesque patterns onto the cake. I accidentally chose a tip that was too large so the patterns did not come out as dainty as they ought to be. Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge. Best to consume it within 3 days.

So glad that the experimental roses turned out well! They really pretty up a plain black cake very well!

With love,
Phay Shing