Tuesday 31 May 2022

'Basket of strawberries' Lychee Rose Strawberry Chiffon Cake

 This was what I made for my mum's birthday this year! Chiffon cake strawberries in biscuit basket, on top of a lychee rose strawberry chiffon cake!

There's more to it than meets the eye. Each strawberry in the biscuit basket has cream and strawberry jelly inside. The cake below is made from lychee rose chiffon sponge and filled with lychee rose diplomat cream, lychee jelly, strawberry compote and chopped canned lychees. The sweet pink buffalo check mat is made from chiffon too!

This will be a super long blog post as this bake has so many components. I will break it down into two main parts: 1. Chiffon strawberries in biscuit basket and 2. Lychee rose strawberry chiffon cake.

Recipe and steps for this part includes biscuit basket, strawberry jelly and chiffon strawberries.

Biscuit Basket

140g plain flour or cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
30g icing sugar (I used sugar-free option but can use regular ones)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbs milk powder (optional, added to boost milky flavour)
3/8 tsp cocoa powder (optional, for colour)
48g vegetable shortening or unsalted butter
50g milk ( May not use all)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together all dry ingredients. 

2. Rub in butter/ shortening until breadcrumb-like.

3. Mix vanilla into milk. Add milk a little at a time until cohesive dough forms.

4. Cling wrap and rest the dough overnight or at least 2hours at room temperature. This is to make the dough smoother and more pliable.

5. Roll dough, cut into thin strips and weave the basket.

6. Bake at 165C until lightly golden brown and cool completely. Remember to bake till really dry. If it is still a little soft, the basket may not hold its shape unless you do a tight weave. I prefer a looser weave revealing a little of the goodies that are inside. 

7. Assemble by gluing parts together with stiff royal icing. Dry completely before storing in airtight container. 

Please click on this link for the Youtube video tutorial of making the basket.

Strawberry Jelly

70g strawberry compote*
70g water
2g agar powder
1/4 tsp strawberry emulco

*Strawberry compote
220g strawberries
15-30g sugar of choice (may use regular caster sugar or diabetic friendly options like erythritol, adjust amount according to taste and tartness of fruit.)
Pinches of salt

Note: Excess strawberry compote is reserved for assembling the lychee rose strawberry cake.

1. Prepare strawberry compote by boiling all the ingredients with low heat in a saucepan until the fruit content is reduced to 60-70% of original weight. Mash the strawberries as it cooks with a potato masher or spatula. Sieve the compote if you prefer smoother compote. Cool completely before storing or using.

2. Make the jelly. Place all ingredients except agar in a small saucepan. Scatter agar powder on the surface of the mixture and let it bloom for a few minutes. 

3. Prepare moulds for setting the jelly. I used paper cones as my moulds but you may use other moulds if you wish. Bring mixture to a roiling boil while whisking continuously. Continue boiling for one minute more while whisking continuously. Add about 1/2-1 tsp of jelly mixture into each mould and let it cool slightly before refrigerating for at least 30 minutes. Unmould and store in fridge in airtight container until ready to assemble the strawberries.

Chiffon cake strawberries

Egg yolk batter
2 egg yolks
25g vegetable oil
25g water
(1 tsp strawberry emulco + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract for strawberries)
(1/2 tsp pandan paste + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract for leaves)
(40g cake flour +1/8 tsp cocoa powder for strawberries)
(38g cake flour for leaves)
Pinch of salt
Any other gel colouring to get desired shade of red/green

2 egg whites
32g caster sugar 
1/8-1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. line 10x12" tray with parchment or teflon sheet. Prep about 25-28 paper cones in suitable holders (you may use aluminium foil covered loaf pans with holes in the foil to make a stand for the cones). Preheat oven to 150C for red cones and 175C for green sheet cake.

2. Prep egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks until thick and pale. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add water and respective flavourings and whisk together. Gradually sift in respective flour and whisk until well combined. adjust colour if necessary.

3. Prep meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks or just reach stiff peaks, gradually adding in sugar once the egg whites are foamy.

4. Gently fold the meringue into egg yolk batter in 3 additions.

5. Pour/pipe batter into respective tray/cones. Spread the batter really thin for the leaves. You may not use up all the batter for that. Fill cones till about half full.

Paper cones filled with red batter

6. Bake green sheet cake for 9-10min. Bake red cones for 25-30 min. I reduced the temperature for the cones to 140C after first two minutes of baking. Note that temperature and time is oven dependent so adjust accordingly.

Assemble the strawberries as shown in this Youtube video (you may also watch the shortened version in my Instagram reel). You will need light corn syrup/cake glue/ melted marshmallows as glue. The cream I used is just store bought non-dairy whipping cream with a little more vanilla extract added. You may use dairy whipping cream that is stabilized but this entire bake is already so involved I felt like simplifying this part 😂. I whipped up about 40g of whipping cream for assembling the strawberries. Store assembled strawberries in the fridge in airtight container for at most a week. This is non-dairy if you use non-dairy cream so a week storage isn't an issue but it may dry out with longer storage.

Here's another view of the basket of "strawberries"! I love the cut view as well! The mat under the basket is actually homemade marzipan. I just used the marzipan for photography so not sharing the recipe.


This part consists of a chiffon cake placemat with pink buffalo check pattern, lychee rose chiffon cake sponge, lychee rose diplomat cream, lychee jelly made from canned lychee syrup, fresh Korean strawberries, canned lychees and strawberry compote.

Lychee rose chiffon cake

Ingredients (makes one 17cm chiffon cake and one 7x7" chiffon sheet cake):
Egg yolk batter
6 egg yolks
75g canned lychee puree, sieved
75g vegetable oil
6g rose syrup (you may use rose water but I find rose syrup that is used to make Bandung has less tendency to taste chemical)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
130g cake flour

6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
90g caster sugar (I replaced half with erythritol)

1. Preheat oven to 150C. Place a tray of water at base of oven if you wish to create steam. Line 7x7" tray with teflon sheet or parchment paper. Set oven rack to second lower position.

2. Make egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks until thick and pale. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add lychee puree, rose syrup, salt and vanilla and whisk together. Gradually sift in flour and whisk until well combined. 

3. Prep meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks or just reach stiff peaks, gradually adding in sugar once the egg whites are foamy.

4. Gently fold the meringue into egg yolk batter in 3 additions.

5. Fill 7x7" pan till about one inch thick with batter. Pour the rest into 17cm chiffon tin. Run a chopstick in the batter to pop any trapped air bubbles. Place both into the oven

6. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the 7" tray and immediately flip the cake onto a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Continue baking the 17cm cake for another 40min at 130C (as read by oven thermometer) or until skewer comes out clean. Invert the chiffon cake immediately and cool completely before unmoulding by hand. Note that baking temperature and time will vary between different ovens so adjust accordingly. Store the cakes in airtight condition until ready to assemble.

Lychee jelly
50g chilled lychee syrup from the can
12g gelatin powder or 6 gelatin sheets
100g lychee syrup from the can at room temperature

1. Place chilled lychee syrup in a microwaveable bowl. Scatter gelatin powder or place gelatin sheets in it to bloom for 10 minutes. 

2. Microwave on low power for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat if necessary until melted fully. You may use double boiling method to melt the gelatin if you wish.

3. Add the rest of the lychee syrup. Whisk until well combined. Chill in fridge until set, at least one hour.

4. Cut the jelly into small cubes and store in the fridge until ready to assemble.

Lychee rose diplomat cream
150g lychee puree from canned lychees, sieved
50g milk
20g cornflour
2 egg yolks
6g rose syrup
Pinches of salt
15g unsalted butter, softened (you can take it out from the fridge once you start work and it will soften)
80-120g whipping cream of choice (I used non-dairy for convenience which is already stabilized and sweetened. You may use dairy cream or a combination of both. If using dairy cream only, please stabilize it with gelatin or other means and add sugar to taste. Use less whipping cream for a richer cream and stronger lychee flavour.)

Note if you are opting to use less whipping cream, especially if you are using dairy cream, you may have to upsize the recipe to 3 egg yolks worth to ensure there is sufficient cream for cake assembly.

1. Whisk together egg yolks, salt and cornflour in a heavy mixing bowl or heavy glass jug.

2. In a saucepan, heat milk, lychee puree and rose syrup until steaming hot, not boiling. Remove from heat and slowly pour in a thin stream into the egg yolk mixture while whisking the yolk mixture continuously. Pour everything back into saucepan and cook over medium low heat while whisking continuously. 

3. Keep whisking and cooking until custard starts to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth. Return back to heat and cook and whisk until custard is firm enough to hold a soft peak.

4. Remove from heat and add butter. Whisk until well combined. Transfer to a mixing bowl and press cling wrap on the surface immediately. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating for at least an hour. You may prepare this pastry cream a day in advance if you wish.

5. Remove pastry cream from fridge and loosen it with spatula. Whip up whipping cream and fold into pastry cream to make diplomat cream. Transfer into a large piping bag with a hole cut for cake assembly.

Cake assembly
-17cm chiffon cake cut horizontally into three pieces
-7x7" chiffon cake to cut out three circles to cover hole in middle of chiffon cake
-Strawberry compote (from previous section)
-Canned lychee syrup
-Lychee rose diplomat cream in large piping bag
-Korean strawberries cut to size and dried on paper towels
-Canned lychees cut to small pieces, remove woody parts
- 9" cakeboard
- guitar sheet or acetate sheet

1. Pipe a little diplomat cream on cakeboard and place chiffon cake on it. Cover the hole with circle piece of cake cutout. 

2. Wrap acetate sheet around cake and secure with tape. Brush cake surface with lychee syrup. Carefully spoon some strawberry compote in the middle of the cake, leaving about 1inch border uncovered. Pipe a ring of diplomat cream around the strawberry compote and carefully thin it out all the way to the edge using a metal teaspoon. (see first picture in collage below)

3. Add strawberries around the circumference, taking care to press the fruit against the acetate sheet. (second picture in collage)

4. Pipe some diplomat cream in the middle. Add lychee jelly and chopped lychees in the middle. (third picture in collage)

5. Carefully pipe diplomat cream around the strawberries to fill the gaps, and over the jelly and lychees. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out the cream (fourth picture in collage).

6. Place another slice of sponge over the cream and cover the hole with a cut piece of sponge. Repeat above steps until the last piece of sponge is placed on top. Brush the tops of the top sponge with some lychee syrup. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least two hours until ready to assemble. I inserted jumbo straws into the middle of the cake as dowels to support the heavy basket of strawberries but you may omit if not needed.

Buffalo check patterned chiffon cake mat
Egg yolk batter
2 egg yolks
20g oil
30g milk
45g cake flour
white gel colouring
strawberry emulco

2 egg whites
1/4-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
40g caster sugar (I replaced half with erythritol)

Note that there will be excess batter. I just piped it out to make another sheet cake for mini swiss roll.

1. Prepare 10 x 12" tray with buffalo check pattern template (I made my own according to size of squares I wanted) and teflon sheet (preferable)/ parchment paper (ok in a pinch but may result in wrinkled looking pattern). Preheat oven to 180C, set oven rack to middle position.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter as mentioned above (not gonna repeat myself 😂) but add some white gel colouring in. Divide yolk batter into 1:1:2 ratio for white:dark pink: light pink. But if you want things simpler for yourself since there is excess batter anyway, just divide into three equal portions, about 40g each. Add strawberry emulco until desired shade of pink is reached for light pink and dark pink.

3. Prepare meringue and divide into three equal portions or 1:1:2 ratio for white: dark pink : light pink. Fold into respective egg yolk batter. Transfer into piping bags with a small hole cut, about 2-3mm. I must stress the importance of a properly made meringue. If it is unstable, it will break down fast. I use a little more cream of tartar and sugar in the meringue than for my regular chiffons for the reason of stabilizing it a bit more.

4. Pipe the pattern following the template. Pipe as thick as possible while retaining the shape, at least 4-5mm thick

5. Place tray in oven, lower temperature to 170C and bake for 9 min or until you think it is done 😂. Unfortunately this one takes a bit of guess work and you have to know your oven well and have some experience working with chiffons, because the batter is so thin. I cannot prescribe exact baking time and temperature. Bake too long and it gets browned and dry. Bake too short and it will be very fragile. Temperature too high, it will brown. Temperature too low and it will also be fragile and the meringue may start deflating before it sets (pattern will not he pretty). A chiffon this thin can go from baking too short to too long within a minute. To give yourself a larger margin of error, start with the higher temperature for first few minutes to quickly set the meringue structure before it breaks down, and then lower the temperature to a level where it is unlikely to brown so quickly but sufficient to dry out your cake batter. It is ok to open the oven door to have a closer look at your cake to check after the first few minutes. If it still appears wet, continue baking another half to one minute.

6. Once baked, immediately flip it out onto a fresh sheet of parchment paper.

Ta-dah! Looks like an actual towel.

7. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the cake according to the size you want. 

8. Carefully place it on top of the lychee rose strawberry cake after removing the acetate sheet. Brush the surface with lychee syrup.

You may add some fresh strawberries or chiffon strawberries on top, or the whole basket of strawberries. Please remember to use dowels of putting something heavy on top because this is a delicate cake.

Actually, I didn't get to taste the big cake because mum and dad caught Covid a few days before the planned extended family get-together celebration. My aunt picked up the big cake and shared it with the rest of my extended family including grandma. My mum and dad had the basket of chiffon strawberries instead. According to aunt, the cake was so yummy and she kindly helped me take picture of a cut slice.

Pardon the messy interior because I inserted jumbo straw dowels into the cake for photography of what the entire bake should look like.

In my slightly distracted state of mind while making this bake, I forgot all about the chiffon cake daisies I made as little pops of colour to add on the bake when I took the photos. I think they deserve a mention and feature in the blog post because they are so dainty and cute!

My parents are better now so it is a relief! Thank God for vaccines and good medical care in Singapore!

This project was really a labour of love that took many many hours. Glad it turned out yummy and pretty! Please acknowledge me if you use any of my material that I shared in this post (and other posts) because it has taken me a lot of time to develop it. For more timely view of my work, please follow me on Instagram at phay_shing as I may not share everything in the blog.

with lots of love,

Phay Shing

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