Monday, October 25, 2010

Cake Project 5: Summer Passion Cake and Bee Happy!

Its another cake project! October is a busy month for me, when most of my close friends are having their birthdays. This is the second birthday cake I baked in the same month and its a rather elaborate one, which means lots of work involved. Tiring.... whew!

Since the cake is meant for my friend's 21st birthday, I wanted to make a layer cake that is really memorable for her. It would have to be both aesthetically appealing and pleasing to the tastebuds. After discussing and exchanging ideas with another friend, Aud, we had some good ideas coming in. Here's the blueprint:

  • Sponge Layers: Using my trusty chiffon cake sponge recipe in most of my layer cakes. Its great as a cake base. Moist, fluffy and tender crumbed.
  • Homemade Strawberry jam: Get fresh rosy red strawberries and churn them into a nice sweet-tart jam to be spreaded onto the sponge cake layers. Recipe is adapted from Happy Homebaking's Double Berry Confiture.
  • Passionfruit Buttercream Frosting and Filling: Flavour a basic swiss meringue buttercream with passionfruit flavour using fresh passionfruits. The passionfruit buttercream will be filled onto the jam layer and the entire cake will be frosted with the passionfruit buttercream. (I flavoured with passionfruit juice with a little lemon juice to heighten the flavour)
  • Shape of Cake and Decorations: 9 inch square cake with piped stars around the border. A picture of a pink coloured bee will be drawn in the middle using piping gel/jelly. I derived the insipration from neighbourhood confectionaries as most of the birthday cakes they offer use a lot of piping gel for decoration in the form of cartoon characters like SpongBob etc. Thanks to Wendy, I confirmed that the material used for all these cake graphics is piping gel/ jelly.

The reason why we thought of the bee picture is because the birthday girl is named Bee, and pinkbee is her nickname (reminds me of a blogger friend Bee Bee who has a similar name). Now, that sounds like an enormous challenge to me. It was my first at attempt making homemade jam and drawing using piping gel. I get the jitters sometimes when I attempt something new. Its the worry of coping with the unfamiliar. Things may or may not turn out as planned. This time, I felt a somewhat adventurous spirit in me. My limited drawing ability would not deter me from completing the bee picture. ( I did thought of chickening out initially due to a lack of confidence, but I carried out the task anyway since I had bought the piping gel and thanks to encouragement given by Pei-Lin)

I was glad to have Aud helping me out with part of the caking making, namely the buttercream and baking the sponge cake. If not for her, I would have taken a much longer time to complete the entire cake, with all the measuring of ingredients and washing up of pans and bowls, some of which needed to be reused.

Making the strawberry jam was a breeze. First, wash and slice the strawberries into small chunks. Add sugar and mix well with the strawberry chunks and allow to sit for some time. This will draw out the juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and it will thicken nicely. Tada! There you have, a nice homemade strawberry jam. I followed Happy Homebaker's advice and added some lemon juice, which is supposed to help the jam gel together. It also adds a nice tartness to the jam. The steps were easy to follow and yielded a promising result; one of the best strawberry jam I had! Would not hestitate to attempt making jam again when the occasion arises.

We had intended the cake to be a 9 inch square. After trimming the sides, it shrank to an 8 inch square. I gathered all the cake trimmings and sampled them with the remaining jam. Yummy~! It has a summery fruity sweet taste with a pleasant tang. Since the fruits used were kind of summer related, I decided to name the cake as Summer Passion Cake. The first name that came to mind was Whispers of Summer, but that was'nt original as it is the name of a fruit juice drink I like from Ceres. I could'nt stop sampling and all the cake trimmings were gone in two days. (there is quite abit of cake trimmings). Oops! I actually ate the cake even before before the cake cutting. (*feels a little guilty, well maybe not, haha)

As you can see, the above are my drawing tools. No palette and paint brushes used. No artist hat and drawing stand either. Just my chef hat and my apron. Haha, just kidding =].  My piping bags are home-improvised using freezer bags. Sometimes, I would use ziplop bags. These work pretty well and can be used for various purposes like storing buttercream and frostings etc. The bottle on the right is the piping gel/jelly used, obtained from Phoon Huat.

You might be wondering why there are toothpicks lying around. These are my 'pencils', used for sketching the bee picture. Firstly, I googled and selected the bee picture I had in mind. I then copied it down on paper as I do not own a printer. With the original bee picture beside me on paper and the cake in front of me, I began to do the initial outlining using a toothpick. If the sketching is out of porportion, simply wipe it away using a spatula. It will smooth the buttercream surface and act as an eraser.

After the initial sketching is done, pipe black coloured piping gel (mix some black colouring into a portion of the gel) onto the outline.The piping gel has the consistency of jam and is rather easy to control. So no worries about it overflowing and messing up the surface. Once the black outlining is done, fill up the necessary places with the desired colouring and you have a nice picture with a glossy stain glass effect. I mixed a little jam into the gel as I did not have any red colouring on hand. Just realised that I used more jam than I should and it turned out red instead of pink only after the picture was done.

The making of the Summer Passion Cake was a great success and I had loads of fun! Imagine me going on a baking adventure likened to a roller-coaster ride. Too bad Aud missed out on all the fun part, especially the drawing of the bee. I'm going to think of more opportunities to work with piping gel in future. I think I found my niche in baking and its going to be cakes and the likes of it; cupcakes, layer cakes, swiss rolls and cheesecakes; since its the area I am more proficient in and enjoy the most. Not into fondant making at the moment yet. I might get too addicted if I start making them.

Erm... looks like I am getting long-winded these days, even more so when I typed my recipe and instructions. Maybe due to influence from a certain friend, haha...

Summer Passion Cake ( Sponge Cake recipe adapted from 超人气香港蛋糕56款)
Serving size: 12 - 14 slices
Taste and texture: Cake base is soft, moist and fluffy. Passionfruit lemon buttercream is smooth,creamy, buttery and fruity.
Equipment and materials:
1) 9 x 9 inch sqaure pan
2) 10 inch square cake board
3) Cake leveller or palette/serrated knife longer than 9 inches
4) Balloon/wire whisk
5) Rubber spatula
6) Handheld beater/Stand beater
7) Baking paper
8) Wire rack
9) Toothpicks/wooden skewer
10) Flour sieve
11) Mixing bowls
12) Cake turntable (optional)
13) Piping tip/s
14) Piping bag/s, ziplock bags, freezer bags
15) Coupler for piping

Chiffon Sponge Cake (3 layers):
6 egg yolks, room temperature (55-60g eggs)
65g caster sugar
75g vegetable oil
75g water
130g cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
6 egg whites, room temperature (55-60g eggs)
65g caster sugar

Homemade Strawberry Jam:
500g strawberries
130g sugar
2 tbs lemon juice

Swiss Meringue Passionfruit lemon Buttercream:
195g egg whites
245g granulated sugar
420g unsalted butter, softened but still cold
100 - 125ml passionfruit juice + 2 tbs lemon juice ( juice from 18 passionfruits. strain the seeds. use passionfruit concentrate if possible, add a little 1 tbs at a time to taste) alternatively, omit the passionfruit juice and use 100 -125ml lemon juice instead.

Making the Chiffon Sponge Cake:
Prepare Oven: Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

Prepare flour mixture: Whisk sifted flour and sifted baking powder in a large bowl to combine.

Making the egg yolk batter: Place egg yolks, 65g caster sugar, oil and water in a large bowl. Mix well with a wire whisk untill the mixture is evenly mixed. Add the flour mixture in and whisk to obtain a smooth and thick batter.

Beating egg whites: Next, whisk egg whites on low speed. Increase speed slowly to medium-high and beat untill egg whites are at soft peaks. Add 65g of sugar gradually and beat untill egg whites are just stiff and still moist. This is when the beaters are lifted, the egg whites will form peaks that are upright and not drooping slightly. Egg whites will resemble whipped cream.The entire bowl of whites will not drop out when the bowl is overturned. Do not beat until the egg whites are dry and clumpy.

Folding in egg whites: Using a ballon whisk, fold one third of beaten egg whites into egg yolk batter gently to lighten and combine. Fold in the rest of the beaten whites to combine. Final batter should be foamy and uniform in colour with no streaks of egg white present. Folding egg whites gently using a balloon whisk will prevent egg whites from deflating too much.

Baking the sponge cake: Pour batter into a greased and lined 9 inch square pan and bake at 160 degrees C for 25 -40 minutes. Test doneness using a skewer or toothpick. When the cake is done, the inserted skewer will come out clean. Cake will shrink from edges on cooling. Unmould sponge cake and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Making the Strawberry Jam:
Wash and slice the strawberries: Wash the strawberries well. Drain the water and remove the leaves. Slice them into small chunks. The chunks will break up when cooked.

Mix strawberries with sugar: Mix the sliced strawberries with sugar and leave it to sit for 30 minutes. The juice will be drawn out.

Cooking the jam: Bring the strawberry mixture, together with the juice to boil in a stainless steel pot or saucepan (do not use aluminium, cast iron or copper pans) over medium heat. Stir the jam constantly. The jam will thicken and start to foam when it boils. Scoop off the excess foam and continue stirring.

Lower the flame and keep it at a medium simmer. Continue stirring and the jam should become thicker and transparent, no longer foamy. Add in the lemon juice slowly and continue to simmer for another 2minutes. Allow jam to cool before using.

Preparing the Swiss Meringue Passionfruit Lemon Buttercream:
Dissolve sugar in egg whites: Place 195 egg whites and 245g granulated sugar in a heatproof bowl. Sit the heatproof bowl on a saucepan filled with water. The base of the bowl should not be in contact with the water. This is known as a double boiler. Bring the water in the saucepan to a slight simmer. Use a balloon whisk and stir the egg whites and sugar constantly until the sugar has fully dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (test by inserting your finger). Take care not to scramble the egg whites.

Beating egg whites: Remove the heatproof bowl and beat the warm egg white mixture on medium high speed to obtain stiff peaks using an electric beater. At stiff peaks, the beaten egg whites will not budge when bowl is overturned. When the beaters are lifted from the beaten egg whites, the surface of the egg whites should form stiff upright peaks (not drooping peaks). The beaten egg whites should be cool to the touch (room temperature), not warm like when it was removed from the saucepan.

Adding butter and passionfruit juice: Beat in 420g butter into the beaten egg whites in 3 batches, ensuring each batch is incoporated before adding the next. The egg whites will deflate furiously when butter is added. Continue beating until the mixture is creamy and fluffy (Initially when the butter is added, the mixture may become watery. As more butter is added and the mixture is continually beaten, the buttercream thickens up). Lastly, beat in the passionfruit juice to flavour.

Assembly, filling and frosting:
Slicing sponge cake: Slice sponge cake into 3 even layers using cake leveller or long serrated/palette knife. Slice off the part that has domed.

Preparing the layers: Using the removable base of a round tart tin or a cake board, slide the tart tin base or cake board under a sponge layer and carefully transport the sponge layer onto a 9 inch square cake board. This is to prevent the sponge layer from breaking.

Spread a thin layer of jam evenly onto the first layer. Fill the first layer (on top of the jam layer) evenly with 230g of buttercream using a palette knife or spatula. Place a second sponge layer carefully over the filled 1st layer and align it properly with the 1st layer. Repeat the spreading of jam and filling of buttercream for the 2nd sponge layer.

Once the filling is done for the first two sponge layers, add the 3rd sponge layer and align it well with the first two layers. You may want to trim the four sides to get a nice even square. For the 3rd sponge layer, do the crumb coat on the surface as well as for the sides of the cake. This means spreading a little buttercream evenly over the cake surface to seal the crumbs. Once the crumb coat is done, add more buttercream to the surface and sides of the cake and smooth the buttercream using the palette knife. There should be some leftover buttercream for piping.

Piping Patterns: Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe stars at the border. Add colouring to frosting if desired. I used wilton star tip no.4.

Drawing with Piping Gel/Jelly: Steps are mentioned above.

1) Store cake in airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent cake from drying out after slicing.
2) Buttercream recipe can be altered and flavoured acording to taste as desired. For example, strawberry, coffee, rum, Ribena and orange flavoured buttercream. Jam or cordials would work well as flavourings.
2) The buttercream will hold at most 150ml of liquid. Hence, jam, cordials and concentrates are best for flavouring. In this case, using passionfruit concentrate will produce a buttercream with a stronger flavour.


  1. woah you got a beautiful cake here bakertan! ur fren is very lucky and i hope she's very happy with the cake! not like me i have to bake my own cake and bring my own candles lol!!

  2. Nice job!!
    Long winded eh, I can guess who.

  3. Wow! Lots of details in this cake! This is a tough one!

  4. ZY, I am sooooo amazed by your patience. Next time you can try using image transfer method. It is much easier.

    I am sure your friend Bee is very very happy with this cake.

    Good job!

  5. Talk about cake decorating skills, this is so cute. If I told my friends that this cake was made by a guy, they wouldn't have believed me. I love the idea of using passionfruit in the frosting. Must have been a super yummy cake.

  6. Bakertan, this is a lovely cake! Your frosting skills are really good! Smooth tops and sides :).

    I understand how it feels when you attempt something new for the first time, with care and attention paid to detail, it'll be fine. And great job there with the cute lil' bee! :)

  7. Wow! It's a very sweet and pretty cake. And what an apt name for it! All your baking passion going into making it! Yup, homemade jam is the best. You can control the sweetness. That's why I used it for my girl's cake. Hey! You are doing fine! keep it up. Hope to see more on your blog.

  8. You've done a great job with your layer cakes! It truly takes a lot of effort and dedication. Keep going, and one day, you may just write your own cake book... I'll surely be the first to buy it!!

  9. ZY, the cake looks great, I am sure your friend will be very happy to recieve this, well done!

  10. You've taken long process to complete the birthday cake for Bee. A cake that is full of love. :)

  11. Hi Bakertan,
    You're getting more and more professional! Even the whole writeup is so detail. You are really very patient! I love this cake too! I love anything that has passionfruit in it. Hey, from your writeup, you can conduct workshops already! Or you can consider to compile all your writeups into a mini-book called "Bakertan's Baking Diary"! Hahaha...Sorry, can't think of a better title, I leave it to you who is more creative! ;)

  12. Wah!! So nice the I wish some one would make a bee cake for me!! This Bee is envious of the other Bee, lol! Very sweet of you leh...furthermore the cake looks super delicious... Slurp slurp!! Great one are you gonna make one for me too, my Bday is next month??? (clasping my hands and looking at you with the most longing and wishful look on my face) I can imagine your ^_^"!

  13. Beautiful cake! Your frosting also really neat & smooth, well done!

  14. Hey Jess,

    Thanks! I can understand how you feel. Well look on the bright side ya. The good thing about baking your own cake is that you can customize it to your liking. I would do the same and bring my own candles too, even though it sounds kind of pathetic. Try to influence your friends and get them to bake too.


    Hey Wendy,

    haha its very obvious right? I think alot of ppl would know who she is. Thanks!


    Hi Zoe,

    It was fun though it was tough.


    Hey Edith,

    Wendy told me about the transfer method. I googled it but am still not sure how it should work. Am glad my experiment worked out. Thanks for the encouragement!


    Hey Jo,

    Thank you so much! This is the first time I used passionfruit. Love the taste of it. the taste of the buttercream could have been stronger, if I had used passionfruit concentrate. But too bad I cant find it.


  15. Hey Allie,

    thanks! I still need more practice with smoothing the sides. The piped stars help alot by giving the impression that the cake has smooth surfaces and sides, haha.


    Hey Judy,

    Thank you! Even though its a tiring project, I know I feel a sense of satisfaction because this is where my passion truly lies. With passion, things can be done well I guess =]

    Homemade jam is indeed good stuff.. Luckily I attempted making it. I already have some ideas for upcoming layer cakes. But will need a break before the next one comes along..


    Hey Eelin,

    thanks for being so supportive! It will be years before I can write a book. Still got so much more to learn in the mean time, from you and other fellow bakers.

    I got to know more about meringue powder and its magical effect thanks to you. Like you mentioned, I came to read that it makes cakes fluffier.


    hey Jess,

    thanks alot! I am happier than her cos I had a good time and it turned out better than I thought, haha =]


  16. Hi Little Inbox,

    thanks for dropping by =].


    Hey Jane,

    Thank you for being so supportive all this while! I cant express my thanks enough to you and other bloggers for the constant encouragement. Really appreciate them alot. That certainly give me the boost to adventure out there.

    Haha, I cant conduct workshops yet. still have a lot to learn from you and the rest. Maybe can share some tips here and there at most, haha.

    I'm regarding this blog as my diary already. Will be quite tedious to compile them elsewhere. Whenever I need to refer to a recipe or some notes I have mentioned, I will come refer back to my blog =]


    Hey Bee Bee,

    Thank you! I can make for you a cake for your birthday =] I have a rough idea on what cake to make for you already, haha.


    Hey Doris,

    thanks for the kind words =]


  17. Very cute bee you have. Very well done indeed *^_^*

  18. Bee must have been thrilled to have a lovely home-made cake from you! Lucky to have a friend like you. You're also lucky to have Aud as friend and baking buddy. She's an efficient kitchen assistant. Oh, is she one of your baking kaki?

    Jam making is fun, right? I remember what you told me the other day. In the States, I've tried making jam with raspberries, currants. Pectin is used though.

    I think the cake looks grand and simply beautiful! You got the cake frosted really well ... Looks so smooth ... Yea, if cake making is what you enjoy the most, go ahead and pursue more of it. Next time, I can call Caketan my cake 師傅.

    Who is that friend ar? You decided to get influenced by that friend voluntarily. So hor, can't blame that friend lar ... Should try asking that friend if there's a cure for it; otherwise, it may worsen.

  19. wow thanks for the elaborated instructions! i'm sure ur bee friend will be delighted to have this as her birthday cake :P

  20. ZY MY BIRTHDAY is COMING TOO. * AHEM HINTS* hahaa 1 month ++ time.

    Wah piping jelly is the same one used to glaze fruits on the cake issit? Anyway your cake looks fantabulous. I haven tried sketching stuff onto my cakes yet. Mainly becuz i think my drawing sucks.

  21. Ya, i agree with Passionate About Baking - your cakes are looking better and better - like those baked by professional baker - well done.

  22. hey cathy,

    thanks =]


    hey pei-lin,

    ya, I am lucky to have aud help me out.

    next time, i'm going to make jam again if i need it. gonna play around with other berries. dont think I will used pectin since the jam won't be around for long.

    actually, I still need more improvement on cakes. Its just the beginning, so need more opportunities to brush up on them. lol, ya I might have to change my name to caketan one day. I cant be your shifu yet, there's tons of other more experienced bloggers out there, haha


    hey jean,

    thanks, i think my instructions are getting way too long-winded sometimes.


    hey shirley,

    haha, ok I can make you a cake, but I decide on the flavour ya?

    piping gel/ apricot gel/ mirror gel can all be used to glaze fruits and give that glistening glossy effect. thanks! You should give it a try too. I am bad at drawing myself. If I can do it, so can you =]


    hey chris,

    thanks thats really nice of you =]

  23. How much jam did you add to the piping jelly for the red colour? Mh

  24. hi MH,

    you only need a bit of jam for the colouring.

  25. I got my inspiration from you, thanks!


Dear readers, thanks for visiting my humble little blog. Feel free to leave a message so that I can learn and be a better baker. Its a great feeling to share our culinary experience and adventures in the kitchen.

Thank you and have a nice day! Cheers =]

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