Saturday 4 April 2015

Longevity Peach (寿桃) Lychee Chiffon Cupcake 'Peaches'

My friend would like me to bake a longevity peach cake for some elderly members of her family. Although the date is still far away, I have always wondered if I could make the peaches entirely out of chiffon cake. I have been making the peaches using snowskin mooncake instead of fondant for longevity peach cakes that my friends or family request, as fondant is way too sweet for elderly people.  Chiffon cakes are nice and soft so if I could succeed in making longevity peach chiffon cake peaches, it would be great! I am happy that my experiment turned out well! The best part is, these are not difficult to make :). Why didn't I think of them earlier?!

The method of making these peaches is actually similar to the snowskin mooncake version. I use the same mould, same spray painting method and same way of creating the leaves.

I used silicone ice cube tray for the small peaches and heart shaped silicone moulds bought from Daiso for the larger peaches.

Lightly grease these moulds with oil before baking to make it easier to unmould the cakes.

I had a bit of lychee puree left from my Peppa pig, George, Candy Cat and Suzy Sheep cupcake bake so I decided to make lychee flavoured cupcakes for this trial bake.

I made use of natural food colouring to colour the peaches. I love this stuff! Must get more when I visit relatives in Malaysia!

Recipe for lychee chiffon "peaches"
1 egg yolk
15g caster sugar
42g canola/vegetable oil
48g lychee puree*
60g cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Green and white (optional) gel food colouring

4 egg whites
40g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

*blend some canned lychee in a bit of syrup from the can. Strain the mixture to remove the woody bits and large lumps.

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Position oven rack to second lowest position. Prepare some bowls or a tray of water at the base of the oven. This is optional but I like the fact that steam is produced during baking, which softens the cake. Line a 6x6" or 7x7" square tray with baking sheet.

2. Whisk egg yolk and sugar until pale and thick. Gradually add oil and whisk until thick like mayonnaise. Gradually add puree and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined. Gradually whisk in sifted flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Scoop out 3-4 tsp of egg yolk batter and colour it green. I added 1/2 tsp of Queen's natural food colouring and a drop of green gel. I added a few drops of white gel food colouring (optional) to the rest of the batter.

4. Prepare the meringue. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the meringue into the egg yolk batters in three additions quickly but gently. Portion about 2.5 tbs of meringue for every tsp of egg yolk batter.

5. Fill the moulds/tray. Tap a few times on the table to release air bubbles. Immediately turn the temperature to 150°C after the oven door is closed. Bake at the following times and temperature:
Layer cake: 150°C for 9-10 minutes
Small hearts: 150°C for 9 minutes, 135°C for 5 minutes
Medium sized hearts: 150°C for 9 minutes, 135°C for 10 minutes.
Large hearts: 150°C for 9 minutes, 135°C for 12-13 minutes.

Do test for doneness with a toothpick as my oven and yours behaves differently.

Immediately remove layer cake from tray and cool with baking sheet over it. Carefully unmould hearts by hand when cooled completely. Gently press the cake down at the edges and away from the sides of the mould.

Shaping and Assembly

Lightly brush the surfaces of the cakes with simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar and water). Use a butter knife to mark out the line in the middle of the peach. You don't have to cut the cake for smaller peaches. Just hold the knife in place for several seconds to make the imprint, like my mandarin orange chiffon "oranges". For larger peaches, you may carefully carve out a "valley" after making the imprint to create a more realistic 3D shape of the peach. Use a sharp, small fruit knife that has been dipped in water to carve.

Spray paint the peaches with pink paint. Dissolve pink food colouring (I used a combination of natural coloring and gel as I wanted a more vibrant pink. Natural pink tends to be duller) in some syrup. Dip a toothbrush in the paint, knock off the excess and spray the paint onto the peaches with the pointy side facing you. You should get a nice shade of pink that gradually fades away.

 Cut out leaves using leaf shaped cookie cutter or by freehand with a small knife dipped in water (like what I did). Cut out small rectangular strips and roll them up to form the stem.

Melt some marshmellows with a sprinkling of water to make the glue to stick the leaves and stem onto the peaches. Brush the leaves lightly with a bit of syrup before storing.

You may store the cakes in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

I hope this post is helpful for those of you who want to bake longevity peach cakes for your elderly loved ones. Definitely much better for the older folks than fondant! You may replace the lychee flavour with any other colorless/light coloured flavours like lemon, vanilla or light coloured floral teas.

I gave Grandma these cakes to sample and she said they tasted great :). I can imagine making these for her 80th birthday later this year!

Update: please refer to this recipe for a more fragrant lychee cake.

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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