Pardon the yellowish hue as I had to take photo using indoor lighting during a rainy day.
The carousel alone deserves a photo on its own!
I took this using natural light a couple of days before I made the cake
You can't tell how relieved and overjoyed I was when I got the news that everyone loved the looks and taste of the bake and it was indeed not too sweet!
Bear with me as this bake is made up of so many components, this is going to end up being a long blog post.
I used the reduced sugar recipe for the macaron shells here. Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too.
Strawberry filling was requested, to match the strawberry filling of the sponge cake. I came up with two different types of strawberry filling that can withstand storage at warm Singapore' room temperature for a week. The "ganache" which contains cooked fruit puree adds that extra flavour but is not structurally firm enough so I have to make strawberry white chocolate that doesn't use fresh fruit puree as well. I whipped the "ganache" to give it a lighter texture. I mention "ganache" instead of ganache because no dairy cream is used. I will share the recipe for both types of strawberry filling.
Recipe for whipped strawberry "ganache"
Cooked strawberry puree
70g strawberry puree (blend fresh strawberries)
A pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp caster sugar
75g white chocolate, chopped
28g vegetable shortening
1/8 tsp salt
35g cooked strawberry puree
1/2 tsp strawberry emulco
1. Prepare cooked strawberry puree. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly. Continue to do so until mixture thickens to jam-like consistency and about half the original volume.
Cooked strawberry puree
2. Melt white chocolate and shortening using microwave oven or double boiler. Be careful not to overheat and stir often. Once mixture is melted and smooth, add salt and mix well. Chill the mixture in fridge or freezer for a couple of minutes.
3. Use a spatula to whip the mixture. Return to chill if necessary. Repeat chilling and whipping until mixture resembles buttercream.
4. Gradually add cooked puree and strawberry emulco and mix well after each addition.
Transfer into piping bag.
Recipe for strawberry white chocolate
80g white chocolate, chopped
20g vegetable shortening
1.5 tsp strawberry emulco
1/4 tsp salt
1. Melt white chocolate with shortening in the same manner as above for the "ganache".
2. Add salt and mix well. Gradually add emulco, half a tsp at a time and mix well.
3. Let it firm up at room temperature until toothpaste-like consistency.
Transfer into piping bag.
Assemble the unicorns using the firmer strawberry white chocolate only. The rest of the shells in the central pillar can be filled with the "ganache" in the middle and the firmer strawberry white chocolate on the outer ring.
Store the macaron carousel in a cool place, preferably air conditioned, in a fairly airtight ccondition. You may refrigerate the carousel but so far I have been storing at cool room temperature to avoid drying out the filling too much. Macaron carousels can keep for a week out of fridge with no problems.
I chose to bake the sponge in a chiffon tin as I wanted to make a naked version of vanilla sponge with strawberries n cream. The sides and top of the cake looks the cleanest when baked in a tube pan. And so I baked one 7" (17cm) chiffon cake and a 7x7" thin layer of sponge at the same time. The thin sponge is to cover the hole of the chiffon cake when I fill it with strawberries and cream.
Recipe for vanilla chiffon cake
Ingredients (makes one 17cm chiffon and one 7x7" layer cake):
Egg yolk batter
4 egg yolks
5g caster sugar
56g canola oil
56g fresh milk
80g cake flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 egg whites
65g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1. Preheat oven to 150℃. Set oven rack to lowest position. Place a tray or bowls of water at base of oven to create steam (optional). Line 7x7" baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and sugar for a few minutes until pale and thick. Gradually add oil and whisk until well combined. Gradually add milk and vanilla and whisk well. Gradually sift in flour and salt and whisk until no trace of flour is seen.
3. Prepare meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks form, gradually adding in sugar once the egg whites are foamy.
4. Quickly but gently fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter in three additions. Scoop some batter into the prepared tray and slowly pour the rest of the batter into chiffon tin. Gently tap the tray and tin on the table to release trapped air bubbles.
5. Bake the layer cake for 12-15min or until toothpick comes out clean. Immediatwly flip the cake out onto another parchment paper and cool completely. Reduce temperature to 130℃ and bake for 30 min. Reduce temperature to 115℃ and bake for another 10 min or until skewer comes out clean. Immediately invert the tin to cool completely before carefully unmoulding by hand. Please note that every oven behaves differently so use this temperature as a gauge. You just want to achieve a chiffon sponge that rises slowly and doesn't brown too much at the base and sides, and yet baked through such that it doesn't collapse.
Freshly baked vanilla chiffon cake!
Depending on how many layers of sponge you want for the final cake, use a ruler and toothpicks to mark out where you want to cut the cake. Use a long serrated knife to carefully slice the cake horizontally.
Cutting the chiffon cake into 3 layers.
As refrigeration is not an issue and venue of celebration is at a hotel, I decided to use pure dairy cream as the filling because it tastes the best and only a little sugar is added, as compared to heavier buttercream. Even Swiss meringue buttercream which is lighter than traditional American buttercream contains a lot more sugar than fresh dairy creams. I didn't stinge on the strawberries as well, using a full box of it for a 17cm cake. I have to admit this was a very brave choice in view of Singapore's weather. Most bakers would opt for non-dairy cream or partial dairy cream with stabilizers added to have a peace of mind. You can understand how nervous I was 😅. So I was thankful that it remained stable until it was consumed and remained delicious till the end.
Recipe for filling
300ml heavy cream
3tbs icing sugar
1.5 tsp gelatin powder
1.5 tbs water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 box of Korean strawberries (about 250g), halved
25g hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Prepare the syrup. Dissolve sugar in water. Add vanilla extract. Set aside.
2. Prepare the cream. Pour the cream into a large mixing bowl. Add icing sugar and whisk until combined. Chill in fridge. In the mean time, scatter gelatin on water in a small microwave safe bowl and let the gelatin bloom for a few minutes. Microwave for 10 seconds at medium power. Stir to dissolve the gelatin. Add vanilla and a tbs of cream from the mixing bowl, and stir to mix well. Set aside until cool to room temperature. Whisk the cream on low speed until it starts to thicken. Increase mixer speed and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add gelatin mixture. And whisk the cream by hand until firm peaks form.
3. Place the bottom layer of cake on cakeboard. Brush some syrup on the surface of the cake. You may either pipe the cream on or use a cake ring/ springform pan for the assembly. I chose to use a clear plastic cake ring for this. Arrange the cut strawberries in a layer and scoop the cream on top, filling the spaces.
4. Place the middle sponge layer on top and gently press it down. Repeat step 3 for the second layer of filling and top layer of sponge. Chill the assembly with cling wrap covering the top sponge for at least 2h. Carefully remove the cake ring.
I included four straws in the middle as dowels to support the heavy macaron carousel.
The cake is best consumed a day after assembly, such that it is still fresh but enough time is given for the filling to mature with the sponge.
You may want to prepare a few packets of ziplock bags filled with water and frozen to use as ice packs for transport. This is to ensure that the cake stays chilled throughout.
Creating bakes that are yummy and pretty at the same time still remain my priority as I don't skimp on good ingredients and am always mindful of techniques. Really happy that it was well received!