Tuesday, 25 June 2019

'Basket of Yellow Orchids' Pandan Kaya Cake

This is another bake that I had time to study and mull over. Yellow orchid themed pandan kaya cake for some guests to Singapore!

I made a similar cake for my mum's birthday a month plus ago. The same design of partial basket weave cake (basket weave made entirely out of gula melaka chiffon sponge) revealing the alternate layers of pandan gula melaka chiffon sponge and pandan Gula melaka pudding, except that I made a square cake instead of a round one. I also used the same recipe for bean paste flowers to make the orchids and leaves, whereas I made roses for my mum.

To me honest, I wasn't sure I could pull it off as I didn't have orchid petal cutters and veiner or the specific leaf veiner and cutter. Nor did I have the time and patience to study gum paste/sugar paste orchid tutorials thoroughly before I embarked on creating the flowers and leaves. I made my own templates for the petals and leaves and created a species of yellow orchids that isn't known 😆. I had some advice from experts at making edible flowers so that was really helpful too. Check out Helen (Instagram: bakepeoplehappy) and Shirley (Instagram: shirleyyangacakes) on Instagram to see their beautiful work!

I used dried mung beans that are easily available at supermarkets in Singapore to make the bean paste orchids and leaves. Even the shelled dried mung beans have a little black bits that got incorporated into the bean paste but I thought it's ok to have some imperfections on the flowers. You may refer to this post on my first experience with making bean paste roses. I am unable to share the recipe as I bought it from Helen. You may purchase it from her if you are interested. It tastes like bean flavoured mochi and way less sweet than sugar or fondant flowers AND it's super easy to handle and shape.

Just to share a few photos of the works in progress flowers and how I managed to pull this off without some of the specialized tools.

I used cheap plastic file to create templates for cutting out the petals and leaves. It's the same type of plastic sheet I use for cookie templates. It's reusable as you can wash the templates.

I created the petal veins using the blunt knife blade of a fondant tool. I didn't have foam pieces for helping to shape the petals and leaves while drying the moulded parts so I just used pieces of paper towels and cling wrap. I also didn't have specialized plastic petal/flower cups for drying formed parts so I just used a silicone baking mould that I have at home. 

Just a tip, always leave a small portion of same coloured bean paste dough (bottom right corner of photo above) for testing out edible paint colours after the formed flowers have dried.

I used paper towels and cling wrap for shaping the drying bean paste leaves too. I manually created the leaf veins using a baking knife blade shaped fondant tool.

After attaching the petals, column and throat of the orchids to gauge wires, I hung them upside down to dry. I didn't have a special drying rack so I just used a wire rack for steaming stuff in the wok and placed it over a mixing bowl. You can use whatever you have at home to create a makeshift drying rack to hang the flowers upside down.

Drying assembled orchids

Instead of dusting the flowers with edible dust, I made edible paint by using a mixture of vodka, edible petal dust and gel food colouring.

Orchid in the middle already has some subtle green shades added on. The one on the left has all the details added in. See how the flower comes to life with added details!

Completed set of buds, leaves and orchids. I didn't use one of the buds as I felt it was unnecessary.

A closer look at an orchid!

I used floral tape and more gauge wire to assemble the buds and flowers into a stalk. I attached a wooden dowel rod as a support too. Wrap the base of the stalk with cling wrap so that the surface directly in contact with the cake is food safe.

You may refer to this post for detailed recipe for the pandan Gula melaka kaya cake. I didn't make a diabetic friendly version this time round so I just used regular caster sugar instead of Stevia. Half of the sugar content comes from coconut palm sugar (Gula melaka) so overall the bake is still a little more diabetic friendly than pandan kaya cakes that are made using caster sugar only, and it adds that extra flavour to the cake. Coconut palm sugar has a glycemic index a third of regular white sugar.

I must admit that assembling a square pandan kaya cake isn't as easy as the round one as the square acetate sheet mould I made wasn't firm enough. I need to keep in mind to reinforce the walls with adjustable square metal cake ring in the future. The basket weave is made entirely out of Gula melaka chiffon cake. I followed the way basket weave pattern is piped on cakes using buttercream as a reference to create the basket weave.

Even the unadorned cake looks inviting 😊

With love,
Phay Shing

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