Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Calico and Striped Cat Chiffon Cupcakes

Those who know that I like cats will be wondering what took me so long to make cat shaped cakes (Hello Kitty is not counted)! These calico and striped kitties turned out looking more Japanese than I expected and Susanne's first response was "Kawaii!" (why am I not surprised :P).

The patterns on the cats are made using the double-baked technique that Susanne and I have been using for a few of our bakes. I combined this technique and the ear-shaping technique that I used for my panda and teddy bear cupcakes to create these cats who look like they are about to break out in Japanese any time. It's my first time playing around with homemade marshmellow fondant too to make the features on the cats' faces.

I began by baking a cake for the brown and black patches/ stripes using chocolate and vanilla flavoured yoghurt chiffon. I chose to use the cooked dough method, yoghurt and butter as key ingredients to keep the cake moist as it has to go through baking twice. The portion for this was too much but I don't have a smaller pan suitable for baking a flat cake so I made a 10x10" one.

Recipe for chocolate and vanilla yoghurt chiffon cake:

Egg yolk batter for chocolate yoghurt cake
1 egg yolk (I use large eggs that are at least 65g)
14g plain yoghurt
6g cocoa powder
9g hot water
10g unsalted butter
18g cake flour, sifted
1/8 tsp baking powder (sift together with cake flour)

Egg yolk batter for vanilla yoghurt cake
1 egg yolk
22g plain yoghurt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
10g butter
18g cake flour, sifted
1/2 tsp lemon zest
Black gel food coloring

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
32g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a 10x10" pan with baking sheet.
2. Prepare the chocolate egg yolk batter. Make a chocolate paste by combining the cocoa powder and hot water in a small saucepan. Add yoghurt and butter to it and heat it over the stove until butter melts. Remove from heat. Add the sifted flour and baking powder in one addition and stir until well combined. Gradually add in egg yolk and mix until well combined. Transfer the egg yolk batter into another bowl.
3. Prepare the vanilla egg yolk batter. Heat yoghurt, butter and vanilla essence over stove until butter melts. Add in sifted flour and stir until well combined. Gradually add in egg yolk and mix until well combined. Fold in the lemon zest and add black food coloring until a desired shade is reached. Transfer the egg yolk batter into another bowl.
4. Prepare the meringue. Beat egg whites in a clean metal bowl with an electric mixer until foamy. Add in cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed and the bowl can be overturned without the meringue falling out.
5. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue into each of the egg yolk batters. Gently but quickly fold in the rest of the meringue in two additions until no trace of egg whites can be seen.
6. Pour the batters into the cake tin and bang a few times on the table to release any trapped air. Bake for 15-16 minutes and cool completely before cutting out the patches and stripes. My cake looks like this:

I baked this cake the day before so as not to stress myself out, kept the cake tightly cling wrapped and refrigerated. I used a large round cookie cutter to cut out circle from each color and divided the circle into thirds. I also cut some strips of brown cake for the striped cat.

Next, I prepared the main batter for the cat face.

2 egg yolks
44g plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla essence
20g butter
36g cake flour, sifted
1tsp lemon zest

40g caster sugar
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

The steps for preparing the batter are the same as that for the black cake except that no food coloring is added. Add a tablespoon of batter into each small glass bowl before lining it with the patches/stripes, and then filling them up with more batter (about 3 tablespoons more).

Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes and 150 degrees Celsius for 17 minutes. Invert the glass bowls to cool if possible. I had to wait for a while for a couple of them to shrink a bit before overturning them as I filled the bowls to about 3/4 for some of them this time.

 Carefully unmould by hand. Use a metal teaspoon to help you if the cake is a bit stuck as these cakes are really soft and fragile and may tear easily. Freshly unmoulded cakes!

 Carefully shape the ears of the cats using a butter knife. They are starting to look cute already!

 Add in the facial features of the cats. You may use melted chocolate or royal icing to paint/ pipe the features on. I decided to try something new... marshmellow fondant! It's like playing with playdoh :P. Pardon my amateur attempt at freehand shaping of the fondant. Glad that the cakes are cute enough :). They also taste good. Hubby and the kids loved the cute, soft and fluffy cakes! Do serve them chilled as they taste better that way.

Since I had leftover egg yolks (two of them) and lots of brown and black cake, I decided to make some fruit, pastry cream and cake parfait!

I decided to be cheeky and made the tops "animal skin" designed ;).

With love,
Phay Shing

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