Sunday, 13 September 2015

'Basket of Fruits' Chiffon Cake

I had this cake envisioned a few months ago for dad's birthday. Finally it's time to make it! Presenting a "basket of fruits" chiffon cake made entirely out of soft chiffon sponge!

There's Chinese pears, orange, strawberries and plums in the basket :).

The basket is orange flavoured and full of zest but I added 1/2 tsp of dutch-processed cocoa powder to give it a brownish colour.

Recipe for fruits
Bear with me as there is a range of flavours and fruits involved so the ingredient list is long and proportions need some math. You may simplify to suit your preference by omitting some fruits. 

- 6" square tray, lined with baking sheet
- Four 8.5cm diameter round bottomed glass bowls
- round silicone ice cube tray, lightly greased*
- heart shaped silicone ice cube tray, lightly greased*

* Use cakepops moulds if you don't have these. Fill the moulds until full with batter.

5-10g compound white chocolate
1/8 tsp Matcha powder
Cinnamon stick, soaked in hot water and sliced thinly longitudinally
1 tsp cocoa powder
3/4 tsp hot water

(Common egg yolk batter ingredients)
2 egg yolks
10g caster sugar
27g canola/ vegetable oil
A pinch of salt
40g cake flour, divide into two 10g and one 20g portions

7g orange juice
1/8 tsp orange zest
1/8 tsp orange emulco
1 drop orange gel food colouring

7g pear juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/16 tsp cinnamon powder
Tiny dip of yellow gel food colouring

(Strawberry, plum and leaves)
14g mixed berry/strawberry yoghurt
1/8 tsp strawberry paste
1/16 tsp red yeast powder
1 drop red gel food colouring
1 drop purple gel food colouring
1/8 tsp Pandan paste
1 drop green food colouring

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

1. Set oven rack to second lowest position with a baking tray of water at bottom of oven (optional). Preheat to 160°C. Prepare all bakeware.

2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Gradually add oil and whisk until well combined. Add a pinch of salt and mix well. Divide this into ratio of 1:1:2 for orange:pear:the rest.

3. Add orange juice, zest, emulco and colouring to orange portion of batter. Mix well. Gradually whisk in 10g sifted flour.

4. Add pear juice, vanilla, cinnamon and colouring to pear batter. Mix well. Gradually whisk in 10g sifted flour.

5. Add yoghurt into the remaining portion of batter and mix well. Gradually whisk in 20g sifted flour. Divide this portion into 3. Add Pandan paste and green colouring to one portion, purple colouring to one portion, and strawberry paste, red yeast powder and red colouring to the last portion.

6. Prepare meringue. Beat egg whites in a clean metal bowl with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form, gradually adding in sugar when the egg whites are close to soft peak stage. 

9. Quickly but gently fold the meringue into the egg yolk batters in two additions in the ratio of 3:3:2:2:2 for orange:pear:strawberry:plum:leaves. I find it helpful to use a ladle/large spoon to portion out the meringue quickly in the ratios specified without having to weigh the bowls.

10. Transfer the orange and pear batters into glass bowls, filling two bowls each flavour. Scoop a heaping teaspoonful worth of batter for the ice cube tray cakes, round for plums and heart shaped for strawberries. Pour the green batter into the 6" tray. Tap the trays, bowls and moulds on the table.

11. Bake at the following times and temperatures:
Leaves: 160°C for 10 minutes
Ice cube trays: 160°C 10 minutes followed by 140°C 3-4 minutes.
Glass bowls: 160°C for 10 minutes followed by 140°C for 15-20 minutes.

Note that baking times are approximate. Always check with a skewer for doneness.

12. Immediately remove green cake from tray, peel off the baking sheet and cool with a baking sheet over it. Let the ice cube tray cakes cool completely before unmoulding by hand. Cool the glass baked cakes inverted over cooling rack. Carefully unmoulding by hand when cooled.

13. Shape and decorate the oranges by following the example in my old post. I have a photo tutorial there :). Use a chopstick to gently make an indent in the middle for the pears and insert a cinnamon stick for the stem. Use a calix or star cookie cutter to cut out the leaves for the plums and strawberries. Glue them on with  marshmellows melted with a sprinkle of water. Dissolve cocoa powder in hot water to form a paste. Paint or pipe on the seeds. Stick in a short stem for the plums. The strawberries made an appearance earlier in this post.

14. Gently brush the fruits with syrup (5g sugar dissolved in 20ml hot water). Store in airtight container until time for assembly.

I actually split the baking of fruits over two days with more ingredients used as I am working on the strawberries baked in egg shells as well for the chiffon cake book I am co-authoring with Susanne :). Here are some of the fruits...

I must confess that I had grapes in mind but they appear too large in proportion to the other fruits! So they ended up as plums :p.

Recipe for basket (makes one 15cm chiffon cake and one 10x12" layer cake)
3 egg yolks
15g caster sugar
27g oil
27g orange juice
6g orange zest
1/4 tsp orange emulco
60g cake flour
A pinch of salt
1/2 tsp dutch-processed cocoa powder (optional)

4 egg whites
1/5 tsp cream of tartar
42g caster sugar

As above. Bake chiffon cake at 160°C for 10 minutes followed by 140°C for 25-30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Immediately invert to cool. Carefully unmould by hand when completely cooled.

Cut the layer cake into strips and roll some of them up to form the weaved portions of the basket. Glue on with melted marshmellows. This basket design is much simpler than my first one for my mum but still elegant.

Yoga-like chiffon cake on show, bending at 90°, rolled in tight roll and twisted like a rope.

The elderly folk at the birthday celebration loved the cake for it's lightness and the fact that it is fondant and cream-free and not too sweet. Grandma said she wanted a cake like this for her birthday next month, not too sweet and without cream. I told her I have a flavour in mind for her cake already ;). My neighbor whom I gave the extra "fruits"to gave a thumbs up for the cakes too!

Blessed birthday Dad!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing


  1. That is amazing, I'm going to mention it to my readers in Friday Newsletter ;)

    1. Hi Margot,
      Thank you for the mention! I am really honored :)

  2. hi…This cake very interesting..May i know if i don’t have round bowl glass for the orange and pear ,what else i can use to bake this such round shape? and the cakepop use for the plum? how u make it so round base? Tq