We were browsing the market one of the weekends when we spotted cartons and cartons of lychees on sale. We looked at each other with eyes the size of tennis balls, and right about 1.23 seconds later, we went ballistic and
jumped straight into the pile of lychees like how a rockstar would dive into the mosh pit grabbed a full carton of ‘em blushing babies. That’s about 2kg for only £3.50! Sweeeet-tah!
As we drove back home, I started rattling on and on about the number of things I could bake with them, whilst M licked his lips and wondered how many lychees he could consume in one sitting. By the time we were in the hood, I was still clueless, so of course I turned to some of the recipe books on my bookshelf.
I was obsessed about chiffon cakes then, and true to my psychotic self, I buried my nose in my spanking new recipe book, Okashi by Keiko Ishida, for the next hour. I emerged enlightened, amused and annoyingly eager over the magic that my lychees could become. Before I knew it, I was scribbling notes on scraps of paper, tweaking the basic chiffon cake recipe in the Okashi book as I made sense of it. I declared to no one in particular that I was going to make a lychee chiffon cake with matcha whipped cream frosting.
Bizarre? Yes, I thought so too. I spent a few good hours asking myself if these flavours would work. I mean lychees are beautiful in cakes and pastries (hop over here to have a look at my Lychee Mascarpone & Emperor’s Seven Treasures Macarons), and my love for matcha has not gone unnoticed (Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons, anyone?), but to marry the two together? I might as well oversee a nasty divorce before they even say ‘I do’. But I was dead curious and I knew I just had to try. After all, the best recipes always slip right under your nose, when you least expect it.
So I peeled ‘em lychees off their blushing skins, snuck in a fruit or two as I juiced them. I got my elbows deep in cake batter, whipped the lazy egg whites into submission and basically hoped for the best.
The result? A sinfully soft cake, very subtly perfumed with the unmistakeable sweet fragrance of lychees, and enrobed in the lightest, creamiest, bittersweet matcha frosting. It was wonderful. So delightful on the tongue, albeit imperfect because a lot of the lychee flavour was lost during its time in the oven, but still positively pretty in pink and jade-green, and really quite delish. There’s something captivating and terribly addictive about the bittersweet matcha frosting cutting into the sweet lychee chiffon with every pillow-soft bite. I would however, try and use lychee essence on my next attempt to amp up the flavour. As a 1:1 ratio of yolks to whites was used in this recipe, there’s also a more egg-y flavour coming through the cake. Whilst yummy, I think I would reduce the number of yolks the next time I try making this, just so the eggs wouldn’t mask the lychee flavour as much. Still, it was a wonderfully tender cake, so tender that the cake springs back lesser when cut. The problem of getting the perfect balance between texture and structure of a chiffon cake ensues (check out my first instalment on getting the pandan chiffon cake right), but I’m not complaining. M and I finished the whole cake, pink crumb and jade cream alike, in just two days. We’re fat, but oh, we were so very happy.
Here’s the recipe:
Lychee Chiffon Cake with Matcha Whipped Cream Frosting
(adapted from Keiko Ishida’s Green Tea Chiffon Cake in the Okashi cookbook)
1. Lychee Chiffon Cake:
For a 22cm chiffon cake tube pan
(a) For cake batter:
60g plain flour
10g corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g caster sugar
5 egg yolks
70g freshly squeezed lychee juice (weighed, didn’t measure volume)
60g sunflower oil (again, weighed)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/4 teaspoon red food colouring (depends on how pink you want cake to be)
(b) For meringue:
5 egg whites
60g caster sugar
10g rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
2. Sift flours and baking powder twice, set aside.
3. Beat egg yolks and 50g caster sugar (from Cake Batter list) till volume triples and mixture turns pale.
4. In a separate bowl, mix lychee juice, sunflower oil, vanilla and colouring to combine. Add this to the egg yolk mixture and beat lightly to combine.
5. Add sifted flour mixture to egg mixture and mix to incorporate. Set aside.
6. In a separate metallic bowl, beat egg whites till frothy and add cream of tartar. Beat till you get soft peaks.
7. In a separate bowl, combine 60g caster sugar (from the Meringue list) and rice flour, and add this mixture to the egg whites gradually. Beat till the egg whites form stiff peaks.
8. Gently fold 1/3 of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture until incorporated and continue to fold in the rest of the meringue.
9. Pour the batter into an ungreased 22cm chiffon cake tube pan and bake for 40min.
10. Remove cake from oven and invert immediately to cool.
11. Once cake is completely cooled, unmould by running a knife round the edges of the cake (i.e. where the cake comes into contact with the pan, including the central tube).
12. Frost with matcha whipped cream frosting.
2. Matcha Whipped Cream:
250g whipping cream
7g matcha powder
1 and 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1. Chill a metallic bowl in the freezer.
2. Add whipping cream, matcha and sugar into the chilled bowl and beat till stiff peaks form.
3. Frost cake with this cream.
Don’t forget to join me on my journey in making the perfect chiffon cake. My first instalment was on the pandan chiffon cake, check it out here!