Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Green Tea Vanilla Chiffon cake layered with blackcurrant compote and Mascarpone Cream.
Do you have "baking preference of the month syndrome" where a certain time of the year you prefer to make one type of dessert and that is all you can think about, and when that craze is over, you move on to your next project? This is the period of time where I am staying away from making bread and venturing back to Asian baking and it is usually around Winter. No reason at all, it just so happen that Winter is the season I feel like going back to my root to baking something I am familiar and fond of.
Since my last strawberry short cake post, my biggest fan at home (Greg, my husband) was getting slightly too ecstatic about sponge cakes. So, I thought maybe I should venture into Japanese Style desserts a little more.
The below recipe uses one chiffon sponge base recipe and a small portion of the batter are mix separately together with its own individual wet and dry ingredients. I wanted to make it a green tea sponge as a whole but I figured it would give this dessert a nice contrast if I leave part of it plain.
I always love blackcurrant as a flavour pairing with green tea which gives this dessert its slight bitter taste from the green tea powder and a sweet sourness in the blackcurrant compote resulting in a really refreshing flavour profile.
Since I am making this chiffon sponge as a slab, I have omitted the baking powder in the recipe. If you are using the same size baking pan as instructed below, the recipe yields a rather thick sponge, therefore baking powder is not necessary in this case. Nevertheless, both the egg yolks and egg whites are whisked separately until thick and foamy before being folded together and the air created is enough to give it the desired lift it needs without the aid of any raising agent.
No special tools required!
The good thing about this individual cakes is that you don't need any special tools to make them. All you need is your mixer bowl, baking tray and the usual cooking utensils you will already have at home. No need for baking rings to assemble the cake!
Cream of Tartar in your Meringue
Meringue is the glossy white and thick foam made by whisking egg whites and sugar together. It is always recommended to use some type of acid when making meringue to stabilise the egg foams you created through whisking the egg whites. Because in this recipe, the meringue will sit outside for assembly for some time before it hits the oven, having a stabiliser in your meringue is essential to prevent it from losing form too early.
On the plus side, egg whites that has acid in them are more stable and is less likely to be overwhipped.
Cream of tartar is not man made chemical, it is actually in fact a natural by product from wine making. Cream of tartar is easily found in the baking section in the supermarket. It is a by product you find in the side of the wine barrels during processing. This residues is then dried and pulverised to powder and sold in the market as Cream of Tartar. It is recommended that if you love baking that you always keep cream of tartar in your pantry at hands. Apart from functioning as a stabiliser for egg white foams, cream of tartar is also often used in confectionaries to prevent sugar from crystalizing as well as acting as a leavening agent in baked goods.
If you cannot find cream of tartar for this case, you can simply use the same required amount of lemon juice or vinegar.
Whisking Egg Whites
When whisking egg whites, there is actually a technique that I always follow through with no fail. Before adding the sugar into the whisking egg whites, it is crucial to whisk over medium speed . Once the egg whites are foamy with no sign of liquid in them, you should then gradually add in the sugar in a few small additions at a time. Once all the sugar are incorporated, you then increase the speed of the mixer to full volume.
The reason why you would whisk the egg whites on a lower speed initially is so that you are creating smaller and more even air pockets. If you start whisking on a high speed, the egg whites will start to foam to irregular size air pockets with some that are small and others that are too big. This is the cause of sponges rising irregularly in the oven.
The second rule is to make sure that the egg whites are fully faomed before adding the sugar. Adding the sugar too soon when the egg whites have not been allowed to create the maximum air pockets in its capacity can cause your meringue to be slightly short without the maximum volume that you should try to achieve. The egg whites stops creating air pockets the moment you add the sugar. Therefore it is important to ensure that every bit of the egg whites are fully utilised and there are no runny whites in the bowl before adding in the sugar.
Lastly, add the sugar in small addition at a time instead of dumping them all in. This is because air are light and the sugar isn't. If you dump the whole lot of sugar all at one, it will put on weight on top of the foamy meringue and cause them to burst and collapse. The result is a deflated meringue. Adding the sugar in by sprinkling them in a few additions at a time into the whisking egg whites is the key.
Room temperature egg whites
Room temperature egg whites foams much quickly before the protein in the egg whites that help foams to form are not rigid and is ready to go. You can still whisk cold egg whites right out from the fridge, the difference is that cold whites will just take alot longer to whisk and that is because the protein in the whites is still rigid from the cold and needs time to wakey wakey. It's like trying to get a toddler to get change straight out of bed. You just need to be a little more patient.
Medium peak is enough for whisking egg whites for this sponge
Having a good volume in your meringue is good but having too much is sometimes not necessarily a good thing. In the case of making light sponge where you are required to fold the meringue into a separate thick batter or whisked yolk mixture, it is best that you whisk the meringue to medium to near stiff peak.
A stiff peak meringue will be thick and holds its shape rigid when you try to scoop some out with a whisk and have a straight pointy top when the whisk is lifted. A medium to near stiff peak should still have a stable body in the foam but is able to gently fold onto itself when you try to dip a whisk into the meringue and lift it away from it.
The reason why you don't want to have a stiff peak meringue is because it makes it very difficult to fold through with the other less rigid ingredients. The result would see you trying to fold them through too much and ultimately split the mixture. Having meringue that is too stiff for making sponge can also cause the sponge to crack during baking.
Whisking meringue to stiff peak is great if you are trying to make things like pavlova or baked meringues but not for this recipe. :)
Vanilla Sponge Batter
100 g Egg yolk (5 Yolks)
50 g Sugar (A)
150 g Egg white (5 egg whites)
70 g Sugar (B)
1/4 tsp Cream of tartar
*Note: Make the batter then take out 150 g of the batter for the green tea sponge
50 g Cake Flour
30 g Grapeseed Oil
30 g Warm Full Cream Milk
Green Tea Sponge Batter
150 g * Vanilla Batter
30 g Cake Flour
10 g Green Tea Powder
20 g Grapeseed Oil
20 g Warm Full Cream Milk
Vanilla Mascarpone Whipped Cream
150 g Full Cream 35% Fat
200 g Mascarpone
55 g Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste.
150 g Fresh or Frozen Blackberries
75 g Caster Sugar
1 Juice of Lemon
For the Blackberry Compote
Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and boil over medium heat. Once the mixture starts to boil, continue to cook the compote while constantly stirring to prevent the base from burning for another 5 minutes to reduce the mixture.
Transfer the compote into a flat bowl for fast cooling. Place a cling film on top touching the surface of the compote and leave to fully cool in the fridge. As the compote cools, it will start to thicken.
Note: You can use fresh or frozen blackberries and if you like, change to other berries of your preference.
For the Sponges
1. Place the egg yolks and Sugar (A) into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk at high speed until the mixture are light and airy. This process takes approximately 5 minutes.
Gently transfer the whisked egg yolk mixture into a medium bowl then clean the mixer bowl well and dry.
2. Place the room temperature egg whites and the cream of tartar into the clean mixer bowl with the whisk attachment and start to whisk over medium speed until they reaches soft peak and there are no longer any runny egg whites in the mixture. Gradually add in Sugar (B) a little at a time while continuously whisking. Once all the sugar have been added, increase the speed to high and continue to whisk until it reaches medium peak or when you scoop the meringue with the whisk it hold its shape with the tip slowly falling onto itself.
Note: It is recommended not to whisk the egg whites to stiff peak as this can make the batter lumpy when folding it through to the egg yolk mixture.
3. Add in 1/4 of the meringue into the yolk mixture and gently fold the two together with a spatula then add in the rest of the meringue in two more additions and gently fold until there are no egg whites mixture visible. Do not overmix at this point as you will need to mix further with the dry and wet ingredients later on.
4. With the egg batter, transfer 150 g into a separate bowl.
Starting with the larger batter, sift in 50 g of the cake flour in a few additions and fold them gently through with a rubber spatula. Transfer the liquid (30 g room temperature milk + 30 g Grapeseed Oil) into a medium bowl, add in a few scoops of the batter to bring the liquid to a similar consistency as the batter, then add it back to the main batter and fold through.
Continue the same process for the green tea batter with the 150 g that was previously reserved. With the green tea batter, sift in the green tea/ flour mixture (30 g cake flour + 10 g Green Tea Powder) in several additions while gently folding. Place the liquid (20 g room temperature milk +20 g Grapeseed Oil) into a medium bowl then scoop a few small spoonful of green tea batter into the liquid to bring to the same consistency then fold it back into the green tea batter.
You will now have two separate types of chiffon mixture
5. Transfer the plain batter into the base of the pre lined baking tin and with the help of a scraper, gently spread the batter evenly. Then place the green tea batter on top and level with the scraper again.
6. Place the baking tin into the pre heated oven and bake the sponge for approximately 20 minutes or when you gently touch the top of the sponge, it bounces back.
7. Once the sponge is ready, remove from the oven and give it a gentle tap on the work bench. Run a knife around the sides if the batter rises above the lined parchment paper then immediately lift the cake away from the baking tin. Place the sponge onto a wire rack and leave to slightly cool for 10 minutes.
8. Once the sponge has cooled, place a clean parchment paper on top then place a tray on top and turn the sponge upside down. Remove the parchment paper that is sticking to the sponge then leave the sponge to fully cool.
Note: The skin on top of the green tea sponge will peel off slightly when you flip it over again later but that is completely fine.
For the Mascarpone Whipped Cream
Place all the ingredients into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk over medium speed until it reaches a pipeable consistency. Transfer a small portion of the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 8 mm star piping tip. Place the cream that is in the pastry back as well as the rest of the cream in the fridge until ready to assemble.
Note: It is recommended that you whip the cream closer to assembly.
With the green tea sponge facing upwards and a parchment underneath the sponge, cut the sponge to two halves with a serrated knife. Spread the blackberry compote onto one halve of the sponge then top with the mascarpone whipped cream. Gently lift the other half of the sponge away from the filled half. Cut the parchment underneath between the two sponges. Place a half parchment paper on top of the unfilled sponge and flip it over again so that the plain sponge is facing upwards. Lift the parchment paper on the unfilled sponge and flip it over to the top of the filled sponge. Gently press the top of the sponge to even it out. Place the assembled sponge into the fridge to firm up slightly for approximately an hour.
Once ready, cut the assembled sponge into individual portion (I cut mine to 12 individual squares). Place each squares onto its individual serving cups or parchment paper.
Pipe the reserved whipped mascarpone cream on top with a pastry bag fitted with a star piping tip. Top with fruits then finish them off with icing sugar dusting.
It is best to serve this sponge cakes chilled. Store in air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.