Chinese Bakery Strawberry Cake

My friend Ann would tell me time and time again about her favorite cake being a Chinese Bakery Strawberry Cake. Personally, I grew up on Taiwanese Bakery Black Forest Cake, but that’s an entire recipe for another time! I wanted to try my hand at a super soft and light spongecake with whipped cream and fresh berries. For the sponge, I went with a heavier emphasis on egg white compared to my usual chiffon cake, and no fat, butter, or oil in the batter, just to make sure that the sponge is the furthest thing from heavy! I also used a simple syrup made with elderflower liquor(which kind of tastes like lychees), to brush both the cake layers with and the strawberries on top with(brushing the strawberries with simple syrup help them from drying out). And for the last component, the whipped cream. Unlike your standard whipped cream, this cream is reinforced with xanthan gum, which helps it maintain its structure. If you have ever tried to assemble a layer cake with a plain whipped cream frosting, you will find that the cream will begin to melt and fall over, and you will end up with a toppled over mess. I have made that mistake of trying to layer a cake with whipped cream and while it tasted nice, it was the leaning tower of cake and I could neither photograph it nor serve it to other people. That’s why I have to emphasize the need of stabilizing your whipped cream for this recipe. Just so that you don’t end up with a puddle of cream, cake, and berries like how I did several years ago as a beginning baker!

By stabilizing the cream with xanthan gum, you will have a whipped cream with a lot more structure to it, which in turn, makes for the perfect kind of whipped cream to assemble an entire cake with! I have seen other recipes where you melt down gelatin into cream and stabilize it that way, and while that works great, I find that if done improperly, your cream will end up grainy from the gelatin not fully melting into your cream. For those less familiar with it, xanthan gum is a powder used in gluten free baking to bind batters and doughs together in lieu of gluten. It basically acts as a glue that gives structure to things. You can also melt it down into sauces to help thicken them as well! I have used xanthan gum in things like lemon curds in the past to thicken them quickly in place of cornstarch. In the case here, it can be used to thicken the whipped cream to the point where it is as stable as buttercream, but without affecting the taste of it! If you do not want to use xanthan gum, guar gum is a cheaper alternative that works in the exact same way, and worst comes to absolute worst, you can use the gelatin method as well! All of those techniques accomplish the same thing, which is making sure that your whipped cream is fully stable and not melting all over the place when it comes time to layer up your cake!

For the sponge:
5 egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch

In a bowl whip egg whites with sugar and baking powder to stiff peaks. In another bowl, mix milk, egg yolks, vanilla and salt together. Sift the flour and cornstarch into the egg white bowl, and pour in the egg yolks. Fold everything together into a cohesive batter. Line 2 6-inch ring molds with aluminum foil and cooking spray. Divide the batter between the two molds. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18 minutes. Turn the cakes upside down onto a lined sheet tray and remove the aluminum from the bottom. Scrape the sides of the ring molds to allow the cakes to release from the ring molds without tearing apart. Allow the cakes to cool upside down, so that they become perfectly cylindrical and flat. Slice each cake in half horizontally – you should end up with 4 layers after this. If not assembling right away, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

For the syrup:
2 tbsp elderflower liquor
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
a pinch of salt

Bring to a simmer. Allow the syrup to cool down before using.

For the cream:
2 cups heavy cream
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp xanthan gum

Whip everything together to stiff peaks. Keep refrigerated until time to assemble.

To garnish:
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Brush about 2 tbsp of syrup onto each round of cake. Spread 1/4 cup of cream on top of your first round of cake, then layer in 1/4 of the berries. Spread on top of that another 1/4 cup of cream. Repeat with your next two layers. For the last layer, spread on 1/4 cup of cream first. Spread and scrape the cream around the cake into an even layer. Then transfer to the freezer for at least 1 hour. Brush the remaining strawberries with the rest of your syrup. Pipe the rest of your cream around the cake as a border, then garnish the top of the cake with your berries to finish.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s