Saturday, July 31, 2010

Buried Treasure - Lychee Butter Cake

Earlier, my friend helped me to buy 3 blocks of Elle & Vire butter from Sun Lik. Each block only costs S$3.20 whereas it is selling at Carrefour outlets for S$5.20. As it is manufactured in France and french butter are considered premium, I was looking forward to see if it would make any difference in my bakes. 

I chose a lychee butter cake recipe from one of my books: Baking with Fruits by Kevin Chai. It was weird that the recipe did not ask for any leavening agents. From a previous experience, a cupcake which I attempted from Martha Stewart's recipe which too did not ask for any leavening agents turned out to be dense. Hence, I tweaked the recipe to obtain a cake with lighter texture, omitting the almonds and cornmeal, substistuted an egg yolk for a whole egg, added some lychee sryup, used self-raising flour instead and increased the proportion of ingredients. The changes were so much that the recipe I formulated was no longer an adaption from the original. Rather it was a whole new recipe inspired by the original. 

Following the pictures from the book, I placed drained canned lychees evenly on top of the batter. The lychees were supposed to be visible on top after baking, looking somewhat like a lychee version of  a pastry fruit cake. However, the batter rose and buried all of them. I then realised why the original recipe did not ask for any leavening agents. Perhaps that was the trick to keep them in place. Nevertheless, I did not regret my decision. I would rather have a cake with a more desirable texture rather than one that is pleasing to the eyes but fail to satisfy my palate.  

The end result was a nicely browned lychee butter cake with slightly uneven top due to the batter rising and making its way about the lychees. Anyway, that did not matter much since the cake was going to be sliced up anyway.

My efforts were rewarded as I dug into a rich and fragrant butter cake. The lychees were a little soft though and tasted mushy. Well, lychees are definitely unlike apples which can keep their firmness well after baking. I guess this is why apples are a favourite fruit choice among bakers, including me.

Among the brands of butter I have tried, Elle & Vire is certainly quite outstanding. I could taste the richness of the sweet unsalted butter, or maybe my palate was tricked by the salt and the lychee syrup. Anyway, I am pleased with my new found lychee butter cake recipe. If there is anything that I need to change, it would probably be using smaller bits of lychees instead since the lychee wholes do not hold well to the butter cake after slicing.

Lychee Butter Cake (Recipe inspired from Baking with Fruits by Kevin Chai)
Serving size: 20cm/8 inch square cake, 16 slices
Equipment and materials:
1) Stand electric beater/ handheld electric beater or wooden spoon
2) Measuring spoon set
3) Spatula
4) Mixing bowl
5) Wire rack
6) 20cm (8inch) square pan
7) Flour sieve
8) Parchment/baking paper
9) Brush for oiling pan
10) Weighing scale
11) Balloon whisk
12) Aluminium foil
165g unsalted butter, softened
135g castor sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature ( 55-60g each)
1 egg yolk
3 & 1/2 tbs lychee syrup (from canned lychees) 
175g self raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 can tin of lychees, well drained. Slice each lychee whole into 3 smaller pieces.

Baking preparation: Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 20cm/8inch square pan with baking paper.

Prepare dry ingredients: Sift flour into a large bowl. Add in salt and use a whisk to combine the flour and salt, ensure the salt is evenly distributed.

Making the batter: In a mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar until pale and fluffy, as mentioned in How to Cream Butter. Add in whole eggs and egg yolk one by one to the creamed butter. Beat on medium speed until each egg is combined before adding the next. Scrape the sides and bottom of mixing bowl with a spatula after the third egg is beaten and combined. Beat the mixture for a further 15 seconds. Next, add in the lychee syrup. Beat until combined.

Incorporating the flour: Lastly, add in the flour mixture in two batches. Beat until the first batch flour of flour is absorbed before adding the second batch. Once the second batch of flour is absorbed, scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula to incoporate stray flour. Beat for a further 30 seconds to ensure batter is smooth and well mixed. Do not overmix or cake will be tough.

Adding the lychees: Fold half of the sliced lychees into cake batter and ensure lychees are evenly distributed. Pour into prepared tin and level top with a spatula, Spread the remaining lychees evenly on the top of cake batter.   

Baking the cake: Bake at 180 degrees C for 40-45 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick or wooden skewer. It should come out clean. If not, return to oven to bake untill done.

1) Top of cake may brown faster than it is being cooked. If this happens, use a piece of aluminium foil to cover the top of the square pan.

2) 3 whole eggs can be used instead of using 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk. Having more whole eggs will result in a stronger structure and hence a less tender product. I substituted the egg yolk for whole egg to give a slightly more tender product.



  1. It certainly looks golden and buttery. Aren't you glad you tweaked the recipe? I don't mind a slice! ;P

  2. I've made cakes w/o leavenings and so far they turn out well.
    If they have almonds and cornmeal, the cake won't be too dense like a big piece of kuih.
    If you've beaten the butter and sugar well, the baking powder is optional, but you can't put in too much liquid when baking powder is absent.

  3. looks yummy!
    And I know how you feel when the recipe doesn't turn out looking the way you imagine. Happened to me before (with my peach yoghurt cake). But, yes, more important is how it tastes. Maybe can try with fresh lychees next time.

  4. No vanilla extract added!? I scrutinized the third photo, saw some sunken lychees at the bottom of the cake. Just wondering, once the fruit is well drained, would it work better in preventing the fruit from sinking to the bottom by coating it (all-purpose) flour? I do that a lot, though, how much and how you fold the batter does matter. Hmmm ... My eyes can trick me into believing that.

    I can't believe you could get Elle & Vire butter cheaper than I do! The company I'm working for is one of E&V's product distributors for West Malaysia. I still have like 4 blocks of E&V unsalted butter sitting in my fridge. Sometimes, I get better deal as a staff member. Here, E&V butter costs the same as President's, around MYR11 per block. Even at staff price, I got the butter for MYR8 per block. The best offer ever was back in Christmas last year, which was around MYR7 per block. Sun Lik's offer, even when converted to MYR, is still cheaper! You lucky lad! LOL! Hey, if you can afford it, try E&V's whipping cream because it's really good! But then, as staff, sometimes we get free stuff as some of the SKUs in the market and warehouse are close to expiration date. Still can be used. I tried E&V cream cheese before for free, it was good! Yea, still believe that we get for the price we pay. So, are you gonna continue using E&V products in your bakes? Btw, I find that for budget baking, the Aussie brand Tatura is pretty good. I actually buy Tatura products (unsalted butter and cream cheese) more than any other brand's. E&V, President, Emborg are too expensive. S&W is OK, but not the cheapest. I don't use Golden Churn as it's salted. Philly cream cheese is too expensive for me.

    Again, these are just my observation and opinion. Everyone has his/her preferences. Ah, come to think of it, even after work hours, I still can't run away from Elle & Vire. Just finished some stuff for the brand not too long ago ... LOL!

  5. Hi busygran,

    I am glad I tweaked the recipe. It tasted like what I would like it to be. thanks!


    Hi Wendy,

    I dont have cornmeal with me at hand. Hence I decided to go without the almond as well. Now I know why Kevin Chai included these two ingredients in the recipe.

    Thanks alot for the tips. Will take note of them. I agree that too much liquid cant be added. The amount of baking powder would have to be adjusted if large amounts of liquid is added.


    Hi NEL,

    I will be eating fresh lychees as it is instead of using it to bake.


    Hi Pei-Lin,

    Yes, no vanilla is used. Its just plain buttery butter cake. I'm not too sure about coating with flour cos the lychees are far bigger than raisins and other chopped dried fruits. The cake is also a little too short to determine how deep the lychees have sunk.

    Over here, E&V and president cost around the same at carrefour, around S$5.20. I think I got a really good bargain. Emborg isnt too expensive either. When on sale, each block costs about S$3 per block I think?

    We don't have E&V cream cheese here, only philly cream cheese, anchor (1.36kg cost about S$17) and tatura. Whipping cream wise I'm not too sure if we have it. need to check it out. I will stock up on E&V (10 blocks)when CNY is coming and use it all for pineapple tarts. I'm sure it will come into good use. I have used tatura cream cheese in my cheesecakes. Came out pretty decent. There is this Royal Victoria cream cheese by Tatura industries. Very similar to Tatura cream cheese itself (both are of the same price). What's S&W? I am not sure we have it here. I don't use golden churn either. Another brand I have tried and is not too shabby is Bulla unsalted. It's a kind of cultured butter unlike the rest and has a different aroma to it. cost S$2.70 per block at carrefour outlets only.

    btw tatura cream cheese 2kg block cost about S$17. 250g philly cream cheese costs a whooping S$5! hmm, by now you would be convinced that I am a really price sensitive shopper., lol

  6. must be extra nice with the premium butter and whole lychees ...u tried the lychee cake at amk before?

  7. Lychee cake. Looks delicious. Think I will try it next time.

  8. Looks so delicious with extra lychees in it! I must bookmark it!

  9. Hi Noobcook,

    Ya I think the butter really makes a lot of difference. Really fragrant.I go to Amk hub often. But haven heard they have lychee cake there. What's the name of the bakery/cafe/outlet?


    Hi Ronni,

    Thanks. Shall look forward to your lychee butter cake =]


    Hi Anncoo,

    Thanks! Its easy to make and delicious =]

  10. Hi Bakertan,

    Have you ever tried using the canned golden churn? I find it pretty fragrant. It almost has a milky smell to it.

    I've not tried using E&V but the closest I got was Lurpak, which apparently didn't fare very much better than SCS. *shrugs*

    You Fei

  11. Hi Youfei,

    Golden churn butter is not bad. I dunno how to describe its taste. Its smooth and has a different fragrant to it. But I realised its salted. Used it once for making pineapple tarts adapting one of your recipes, haha.

    Lurpak is the most expensive butter in SG. I probably wont use it. Haven tried out SCS for baking. The water content seems to be on the high side.

    cheers =]


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