Tuesday 24 June 2014

Black Glutinous Rice Zebra Chiffon Cake

My friend got some black glutinous rice flour from Indonesia and wanted me to try making a chiffon cake with it. There are a few techniques and ideas I wanted to try with chiffon to see if it works too. And so this ultimate zebra cake came about! Stripes inside and outside!

Okay, I admit there isn't much of a zebra pattern inside. That's because I didn't want to compromise the taste of the cake for the sake of my experiment :p. I prefer a cake with stronger bubur pulut hitam (a dessert made from black glutinous rice porridge and eaten with coconut milk and palm sugar) flavor. You can easily find online tutorials on how to make zebra cake on the inside with equal amounts of two different flavored batters anyway. But I bet cakes with zebra patterns outside that you can find online are all made from beautiful but really sweet sugar paste or fattening buttercream. So I placed more focus on getting the stripe patterns right on the outside of the cake.

If you would like a truly awesome zebra cake, either change the flavor of the batter, such that black and white batters have equal quantities, or be content with milder black glutinous rice flavor :p.

A couple of baking techniques I wanted to try:
1. Using homemade cake strips to improve heat distribution and act as an insulator to allow the cake to rise slowly and evenly (no "huat" cakes).
2. Using batter to pipe patterns extensively on the vertical wall of the chiffon tin.

Some preparation work is required before you prepare your ingredients. I find this video tutorial on how to make cake strips helpful. I assembled my 15cm chiffon tin with cake strip around it, and place the whole setup into a 6" round tin. The whole setup is nice and snug.

You may not find it necessary to include the round tin outside but I find that my 15cm chiffon tin is made of very thin and light material which heats up very quickly, resulting in cakes that rise too fast and tend to end up cracking badly.

Use edible marker to draw the zebra patterns on base and wall of the chiffon tin. Use a light color like yellow. I used black so that it can be seen more clearly in the photo but some of it came off on the cake and left some greenish or purplish tinge! Make a small dot on the wall and on the base such that you are able to assemble the two parts with the patterns matching. You will need to separate the parts for piping and you don't want to end up playing a puzzle game when assembling them :p.

Black glutinous rice flour is not easily available in Singapore and it seems like you can only get it from Bake King. For now I have 500g worth of it, thanks to my friend :).

I adapted the black glutinous rice chiffon recipe from Ellena Guan.

Ingredients (makes one 17cm chiffon or one 15cm chiffon and 2 cupcakes):
Black glutinous rice egg yolk batter
51g black glutinous rice flour
2 large egg yolks
10g caster sugar
24g canola oil
45g coconut cream
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp charcoal powder (optional)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pandan flavouring

Plain egg yolk batter
25g + 1.5 tsp cake flour
1 large egg yolk
5g caster sugar
13g canola oil
23g fresh milk
1/10 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp pandan flavoring

Meringue for pattern
1 egg white
12g caster sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar

Meringue for main batters
3 egg whites
38g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Leftover meringue from above

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.  Prepare a piping bag with Wilton #5 tip. Prepare cake strip and draw zebra designs on 15cm chiffon cake tin.
2. Prepare plain egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolk and sugar until sugar dissolves and mixture turns thick and pale. Whisk in oil until thoroughly combined. Add in milk, vanilla extract, pandan flavoring and salt. Whisk until well combined. Gradually whisk in 27g of sifted cake flour until no trace of flour is seen. Take 3 tsp of egg yolk batter and mix well with 1.5tsp of sifted cake flour in a small bowl.
3. Prepare black glutinous rice egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together, followed by oil, coconut cream, salt, vanilla extract and pandan flavoring. Gradually whisk in sifted black glutonous rice flour and charcoal powder.

4. Prepare the meringue for the pattern. Use an electric mixer to beat egg white until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
5. Scoop about 10-12 tbs of meringue into the bowl with 3 tsp of egg yolk batter. Fold in the meringue in three batches. You should get a batter that is able to cling to the sides of the bowl. If not, add a bit more meringue and fold gently. Transfer batter to piping bag and pipe the patterns on the base followed by the wall of chiffon tin. The batter should be able to stick to the tin and not fall off even when placed upside down! Work quickly before the meringue breaks down and apply a thick layer of batter to ensure good transfer of patterns onto the cake.

Bake for 3 minutes unassembled.
6. Prepare meringue for main batters. Fold in 1/4 of meringue plus any left over meringue from the pattern into the two egg yolk batters in the ratio of 2:1 for black glutinous rice:plain. Fold in remaining meringue in two batches.

7. Assemble the base and wall of chiffon tin carefully without scraping off any pattern. Pipe the joining parts of the pattern with more plain batter before filling the tin with alternating black and plain batters to create zebra pattern inside. Be careful not to let the white batter reach the outer wall of the tin so as not to disturb the external zebra pattern.
**(I didn't use up all the plain batter. I filled two round glass bowls with leftover plain batter and baked for 25 minutes.)
8. Gently tap the tin on the table to release air bubbles. Bake for 15 minutes, followed by 150 degrees Celsius for 25-30 minutes.
 **( Note that if you are not using cake strips, you should reduce baking time by 5-10 minutes.)
9. Invert immediately and cool completely before unmoulding by hand or spatula.

To my surprise, my kids loved this black cake even though the black glutinous rice flour gives it a slightly grainy texture. Gave some to my neighbors and they loved it too! They said it's very nice, like eating pulut hitam and it's not too sweet. It's wonderful to eat this chilled!


With love,
Phay Shing


  1. Hello

    Thanks for the clear directions & recipe. You're very creative. I like your blog.

    Keep going!


  2. Thanks Reggie for your encouragement :)