Sunday 2 April 2017

Reduced-sugar Lychee and Earl Grey Penguin Chiffon Cupcakes (cooked dough method)

A friend requested for some penguin cupcakes for her birthday because she loves these adorable creatures. As only 8 cupcakes were requested, I have the freedom to be more meticulous about the design. Here are some of the cupcakes, both 2D and 3D versions!

All parts are made of 100% Chiffon sponge!

My friend requested for reduced sugar as her elderly relatives are eating the cupcakes too. I thought of revisiting the cooked dough method of making chiffon cakes as sugar is often omitted in the egg yolk batter and a lower flour:liquid ratio can be used in making the sponge without compromising the structure (thus softer cake). This is possible because cooked wheat flour is able to absorb more moisture.

Although the title of this post says "Earl Grey" and "Lychee" as the primary flavours, there's more to it than just Earl Grey and Lychee. The Earl Grey cupcake includes lavender and honey as well, to add body to the flavour and aroma to the cupcake. You should smell the cakes before you eat it :p! I added some rose water to the lychee cupcake to enhance the fruity flavour of lychee too. In order to ensure that maximum lychee flavour is extracted from the fruit, I pureed some canned lychees (without syrup), sieved it and let it stand in the fridge overnight. I scooped away the top clear layer of liquid and use only the concentrated "debris" at the bottom of the bowl.

I prepared some Earl Grey lavender honey milk tea before baking. Begin by heating 30g of milk with 10g (1/2 tbs) of honey until it starts to bubble and honey is dissolved. Pour the hot milk into a small bowl with 1 Earl grey teabag and 1/2 tsp of dried lavender flowers. Steep for 10min and squeeze the milk out of the teabag. Reserve the teabag for use later.

Making Earl grey lavender honey milk tea.

Recipe for reduced sugar Earl grey chiffon cupcakes and lychee chiffon cupcakes
Ingredients (makes five 65x45mm cupcakes for each flavour):

Note that you may omit splitting the half made batter and double the ingredients marked with * if you are making either lychee or Earl grey cupcakes (10 pieces)

Main egg yolk batter
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
14g vegetable)/canola oil
14g unsalted butter
36g cake flour
1/8 tsp fine sea salt

18g lychee puree
1/4 tsp lychee flavouring (optional)
1/4 tsp rose water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Earl grey*
18g Earl grey lavender honey milk tea
1g Earl grey tea powder (optional)
1/2 teabag Earl grey tea leaves (use 1 bag worth if you don't have Earl grey tea powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/16 tsp baking soda (to neutralize acidity of tea and honey)

3 egg whites
1/5 tsp cream of tartar
35g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160℃. Place tray of water at bottom of oven (optional). Set rack to second lowest position.

2. Sift together flour and salt. Set aside. Heat oil and butter in a small saucepan at low heat until butter has just melted. Pour flour all in at once and mix until well combined with a spatula.

3. Gradually add egg yolk and mix well. Divide the batter into two equal portions.

4. Add all the ingredients in the * portion to the respective bowls gradually and mix well after each addition. (Top picture below).

5. Prepare the meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar with electric mixer until firm peaks form, gradually adding in sugar once the egg whites appear foamy.

6. Divide meringue into two. Fold the meringue into the respective egg yolk batter in three additions quickly but gently (bottom picture below).

7. Fill the cupcake cases until about 80% full. Gently tap on the table to remove air bubbles. Put into oven and reduce the temperature to 135℃ and bake for 35-40 min or until toothpick comes out clean.

Here's a peek at the super soft interior of the cupcakes! The cakes are so very fragrant and flavourful!

The 2D cupcakes were decorated with thin layered vanilla sheet cakes. The 3D ones were made from cakes baked in eggshells, one for the head and one for the body. The little parts are all made from chiffon sheet cakes. All parts are stuck on using melted marshmellows.

Just to share some pictures of the process...

Behind the scenes stuff you don't see...all the tiny body parts including the eyes!

I inserted a skewer that runs from the head all the way down to the cupcake to secure the cake topper onto the cupcake base.

Half assembled penguins!

Looking cute all packed in the box!

The 3D cupcakes were rather tall so I had to combine two cupcake boxes to make one tall box to house the two 3D cupcakes.

My friend was delighted to see the cute creatures delivered to her! Not only was she pleased with the looks, feedback was they are really yummy too!

With love,
Phay Shing


  1. For the 2D penguins, did you put the white portion of the body on top of the black part?

    1. Hi Wendy, yes I did. If you want to, you may cut out the black part and fit the white part in. It's actually part of a heart shaped cookie cutter.

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  3. What kind of cutter did you use for the feet?