SOFT, SWEET, AND
UPON the realization that the previous few posts have been excruciatingly long and possibly obnoxious, I feel like today is a good day…
to shut the hell up to let the recipe speak for itself. And what’s better than to do it with a simple gorgeous cake? This is a soft, sweet and elegantly fragrant yellow sponge cake-roll hinted with almond flour, and filled with chamomile infused whipped cream. Lost for words? I know I am. This recipe took a lot of perfecting over time to get it as moist and flavorful as it is. I had to change the cake mix because it wasn’t as moist as I like cakes to be which was simple enough but don’t get me started on the whipped cream! I didn’t want the chamomile to be too overpowering so I made about 10 different batches of cream to see which was the best – my arm was so sore at the end. In the future, I’m just going to look for the best Whipped Cream chargers in Australia to save myself a lot of time and effort, the next time I do recipe development for a dessert like this!
Chamomile is a very popular tea in China, usually served with a bowl of Rock sugar on the side, which is also called “ice sugar” in Chinese. It is a common and preferred sweetener for teas and cooking in Asia, which is not as sweet as typical granulated sugar, and many would argue that it brings a honey-like, more complexed sweetness without unwanted flavourings.
The almond flour I used is made with Chinese southern almond, which has a much stronger aroma (resembling bitter almond and almond extract) that I love. There’s a more extensive post on that. You can buy Chinese southern almond and grind it in a food-processor like I did, or use normal almond flour if you prefer. But let me just say that the aroma of Chinese southern almond pairs beautifully with chamomile.
* I used a slightly larger baking-sheet than suggested in the recipe, and as a result, I felt like the sheet-cake was too thin. So use a baking-sheet as suggested in the recipe, or smaller.
- Chamomile whipped cream:
- Yellow sponge cake: roughly based on Bouchon Bakery
- 2 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (85 grams) of honey
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) of granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (32 grams) of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (28 grams) of almond flour/almond meal (preferably Chinese southern almond)
- 2 1/2 large egg whites
- 2 tbsp of granulated sugar
To make the chamomile cream: Combine 1 cup of heavy cream, chamomile and rock sugar in a pot and set over medium-low heat. Gently stir, and turn off the heat just before the cream comes to a simmer, then let it steep for at least 5 min until the cream has turned light-yellow. Drain through a fine sieve, and press on the chamomile to extract as much cream as you can then discard the chamomile. Chill the chamomile cream until very cold (or to speed it up, place in the freezer and stir occasionally until very cold). Meanwhile make the yellow sponge cake.
To make the yellow sponge cake: Preheat the oven on 350ºF/170ºC.
With a handheld-mixer or a stand-mixer with whisk-attachment, beat large eggs, egg yolks, honey and granulated sugar together until very thick and velvety (scrape down the bowl once in between). The mixture should form large ribbons when the whisk is lifted, approx 8~10 min. Sift the all-purpose flour and almond flour directly into the bowl, and gently fold the mixture together until even with a spatula. Wash and dry the whisk thoroughly. Then with another clean bowl, beat 2 1/2 large egg whites and 2 tbsp of granulated sugar with the clean whisk, until glossy with soft peaks, approx 2~3 min. Add half of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk-mixture, gently stir until evenly combined. Then add the remaining egg whites, and fold it in gently with a spatula.
Line a baking sheet, about 15″ × 11″ (38 × 28 cm), with parchment paper and rub the surface lightly with butter. Pour the cake-batter into the sheet and smooth the surface. Bake in the oven for 13 ~ 15 min, until a wooden skewer comes out clean from the center of the cake. Carefully transfer the sheet-cake to a cooling rack and cool completely.
To assemble the cake: With a clean bowl and whisk, combine the chilled chamomile cream with another 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream. Whip the cream until it holds its shape when the whisk is lifted. Smear an even layer of whipped chamomile cream over the sponge cake, then carefully peel the cake away from the parchment and roll it from one side to the other. The cake-roll may feel a bit soft at this point, which is why I like to wrap it firmly with the same parchment, and chill in the fridge until cold again before serving (dust with powdered sugar on top if you like). It keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.