Saturday 25 July 2015

'Dinosaur' Strawberries n Cream Chiffon Cake II (with new baking technique)

I have a request for the exact same dinosaur cake that I made last year for a little boy named Nathan. This birthday boy is also called Nathan! Except that an orange dinosaur with green spines and yellow spots is requested this time :). I was afraid that this fella would turn out looking psychedelic. But he's rather cute don't you think? :p

The design may be similar but I made quite a few changes this time. Dino is of course orange flavoured to match the colour. Vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream (smbc) is used instead of non-dairy cream as it holds up much better in Singapore's hot and humid climate. My first dino cake was made before I discovered how easy it is to make smbc. The method of baking the base cake is also different. Instead of baking a thin green layer cake and cutting it to fit the bottom plain vanilla chiffon sponge, I decided to be adventurous and bake a two-toned base cake to cut out the hassle of baking a separate cake, carving and then assembling it.

This bake involves quite a few things to bake...

First, the brown sugar cookies with blue total icing was made.

Next, thin layer chiffon cakes were baked for black, white, yellow, green and brown. A thick layer cake was baked for the green spines. I made use of flavourings to color the various colors. Lemon paste for yellow, Pandan paste for green, cocoa powder for brown and charcoal for black.

Here comes the fun part of making Dino. I won't go into details of how to make the chiffon cakes but state the ingredients and baking time for the various parts. You may refer to the section on vanilla chiffon cake below for that. I prepared a tray of water at the bottom of the oven to introduce steam during baking so your baking time will be different from mine if you don't use steam baking.

Orange chiffon cake dinosaur
Ingredients (makes about 2 dinosaurs):
2 eggs
10g caster sugar
28g vegetable/ canola oil
28g orange juice
1g orange zest
40g cake flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp orange emulco
2 drops of orange gel food colouring

3 egg whites
1/5 tsp cream of tartar
30g caster sugar

Baking temperature and time for parts:
Feet: Baked in round silicone ice cube tray for 13 minutes at 160°C.
Neck and tail: Very thin layer cake baked in 6" square tin lined with baking sheet for 9 minutes at 160°C.
Head: Baked in eggshells that have inner membrane removed. Baked at 160°C for 5 minutes, 150°C for 10 minutes followed by 140°C for another 5-10 minutes. Note that baking time varies according to shell size. Test with toothpick for doneness.
Body: Baked in 8.5cm diameter round bottomed glass bowl at 160°C for 5 minutes, 150°C for 10 minutes followed by 140°C for another 20-25 minutes. I filled the bowls until about 80% full.

Freshly baked and unmoulded parts

Assemble with melted marshmellows. As the orange cake is really soft, I had to use a brown sugar cookie base to stabilize the head by passing a wooden skewer from the head, through the neck and body and into the cookie base under Dino. I didn't paint on the black parts of the face but used black chiffon cake instead.

Without spots!

With spots!

Store Dino in an airtight container in the fridge. But brush him with syrup before doing that. Dissolve 5g of sugar in 20ml of hot water to make the syrup.

You have heard never to grease your tins for baking chiffon cakes. I greased both the base and sides of the tins used to bake both 9" round layer cakes. This is possible as it is not a very tall cake and I didn't invert to cool. I borrowed the baking technique for souffle cheesecakes that makes use of gradually decreasing oven temperature and baking with steam or water bath. I made the batter using standard chiffon technique. Here's the result of a freshly baked and cooled cake. Nicely smooth, moist and have minimal shrinkage.

9" diameter and 1.5" tall tin

Remember to grease the tins generously with oil or butter or you may have difficulty removing the cake. The reason why I don't line the tins with baking sheet is because baking sheet tends to wrinkle during cooling. Your cake will end up looking wrinkly. The cake needs to be in contact with the tin in order for you to get a nice shape. If you are baking for home consumption without bothering if the exterior looks nice, you may line the base of the tin.

Here's my freshly unmoulded two-toned layer!

Vanilla chiffon cake
Ingredients (makes two 9" thick layer cakes):
6 egg yolks
30g caster sugar
84g oil
84g milk
120g cake flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 drops green gel food colouring

8 egg whites
80g caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1.Prepare a deep tray of water at the base of the oven. Preheat to 150°C. Use an oven thermometer if possible. I use one all the time. Set the oven rack to second lowest position, just above the tray of water.

2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Gradually add oil and whisk until well combined. Gradually add milk and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Whisk in sifted flour and salt gradually until no trace of flour is seen.

3. Prepare the meringue. Beat egg whites until foamy with electric mixer. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form, gradually adding sugar while beating.

4. Fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter in two additions.

5. Pour the batter slowly into the two tins. For the two toned cake, pour the green batter first. Use a spoon to scoop the plain batter on top, making sure it lines the side of the tin. I used a ratio of 3:1 for plain:green batter for two tins, one plain and one two-toned. Tap the tins on the table to release trapped air.

6. Bake for 15 minutes at 150°C, 15 minutes at 140°C, 15 minutes at 130°C and then switch off the heat but keep the oven door closed for another 15 minutes. Cool the tin completely before removing the cake.

Finally, make the smbc. You may choose to make this earlier and freeze/refrigerate it first. Just rewhip before assembly.

Vanilla bean smbc
150g egg whites (about 4 large eggs)
100g caster sugar
1/8 tsp salt
270g unsalted butter (I use Lurpak)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste*

Please refer to this post for the steps.
* you may replace with vanilla extract but the paste has a richer flavour.

Assemble the cake with fresh strawberries.

Assemble the whole cake with trees, grass, Dino and words. Brush the surface of cake parts with syrup.

Keep the cake refrigerated until it is time to serve.

With love,
Phay Shing

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