Hong Kong Sponge Cake--an Amazing Technique
Having fallen in love with Linh Trang's Milk Bread and her beautifully crafted video, I decided to explore some of her other videos and was intrigued by her unique method of making sponge cake without a tube pan. Normally a cake of this type will dip in the center without a center tube to support it. Linh Trang explained how she created this cake to prevent dipping:
In Vietnam, people think that is a terrible failure. So a large part of my time in the kitchen was used to find out how to have a soft, cottony sponge cake that has a dome in the end :-) A very helpful tip that I learnt recently is to drop the mold onto the counter from a level of about 7 inches) like what I did in this chiffon video, at 5.33). I am not sure 100% but I guess the shocks help to ventilate and release the steam better, and this trick works like magic to me. After dropping the mold 3 - 4 times, we can unmold the cake (if it's not baked in a tube pan) and let it cool on a rack.
The resulting sponge cake is extraordinarily tender, moist, and velvety and not at all overly sweet. I brought half the cake to my dentist, Dr. Kellen Mori, and learned coincidentally that her 6 year old daughter Olivia had just expressed a yearning for strawberry shortcake for breakfast. All that was needed was some lightly sweetened whipped cream and strawberries and apparently it was a great success! Olivia even made a video expressing what she thought a "famous baker" should be. Essentially she said that one should not be concerned about fame or money but rather about having fun, and feeding and making people happy. She certainly made me happy!
Linh Trang's video demonstrates exactly how to make this cake but it is in Vietnamese so she has given me permission to offer the recipe to you in English. (No--I don't speak Vietnamese, but I do speak Baking!)
Here is the recipe:
One 8 x 2-1/2 to 3 inch pan, bottom lined with parchment (do not grease the sides) (Note the baked cake was 2 inches at the sides and 2-1/4 inches domed so a 2 inch pan might work)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, milk, oil, and vanilla until very smooth. Add the flour/cornstarch through a strainer and whisk until evenly incorporated.
Beat meringue on low speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue on high speed until soft peaks. Then lower speed to medium for about 2 minutes until stiff peaks to give it more stability.
Whisk 1/3 of the meringue into the yolk mixture. Then use a spatula to fold in the meringue, adding it in two parts. Smooth the surface.
Tap the pan 3 times on the counter to release any large air bubbles.
Bake toward lower rack so not too close to top heat at 300°F 40 to 50 minutes (slow rise=less likelihood of falling) until it springs back.
Drop the pan 3 times to release steam and unmold right away. Remove parchment and cool top-side-up on a raised rack.