Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Experiment In Cake

1 | 2 | 3

This past weekend, I conducted a cake experiment. See, I'm trying to figure out how to make this cake that is legendary in my family. It's a cake that my grandfather (who died before I was born) used to make. My dad and all his brothers and sisters have been trying to replicate this cake for 30 years now, to no avail. I have made it my mission to figure out this cake and make it for my dad as a Christmas present. This is not as easy as it might sound, for I have a number of challenges to overcome.

Challenge #1: Texture
My family has described this cake to me dozens of times, and I'm still not sure what it should be like. Part of the problem is almost all the descriptions have been in Chinese, and there are not always English equivalents. As best as I can figure, the cake part resembles a chiffon cake...super light and fluffy. The pudding part is tender...not liquidy, like most pudding cakes. I'm guessing the pudding is actually more of a custard, like picture 3 above, instead of 1 and 2.

Challenge #2: Flavor
I'm not sure how the original cake was flavored. My dad says it was like a yellow cake, and his sister says it was chocolate. But since I'm making this for my dad, I suppose I have to flavor it with vanilla. Problem is, most pudding cake recipes I've found are for lemon or chocolate flavors.

Challenge #3: Try and try again
My first attempt this weekend was a chocolate flavor, because I thought that would be harder to screw up. It was a mediocre success. But the flavor was off, the pudding was too runny, and the cake wasn't fluffy enough. I'll be trying again soon, though.

If anyone has any tips or ideas, please let me know!! I'm totally open to suggestions!


  1. That's quite an undertaking-especially to me, who is deathly afraid to make ANYTHING without a recipe! I have a book by Alton Brown called I'm Just Here For More Food and he explains a lot of the chemistry of baking and texture and different techniques, etc...something like that might help a little! Good luck :)

  2. WOW! That will be such a thoughtful gift for your dad. Good luck dear!



  3. Hi Michelle! It sounds similar to a madeira cake my mum makes which is just like sponge cake with vanilla essence flavouring.Good luck with the next try out!!

  4. oh gosh, this looks delicious, but when it comes to cooking i am DEFINITELY the wrong person to ask, ha
    xo TJ

  5. I love this challenge you have set yourself and such a beautiful and thoughtful idea for your dad's Christmas present - if you nail it he will be blown away! xx

  6. This is an awesome challenge, I want to come sample them all. xo


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