Among other things, Chinese New Year means that people come over and there needs to be food around. Lots of food.
At some point, you or whoever else is ordering the the food will forget exactly how much food they ordered – this happens, it’s normal, and you shouldn’t panic. You definitely ordered enough food.
Despite this, you will still end up making an extra dessert. Extra dessert is always welcome. Especially when it’s the first year you have to give out angpau, and you need a little consolation in the form of cream cheese.
Yes, that’s two pictures of the orange flower. I’m just a little bit proud of myself 🙂 (context: I’m the least artistic person on the planet)
I have omitted the process pictures, in which I dropped the baking tin on the cake. My baking tin is metal = heavy. This resulted in a really really big dent in the middle of the cake. Like I said, there is nothing that cream cheese icing can’t solve.
Vanilla Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Orange “Flower”
Adapted from Hummingbird Cupcakes’ vanilla cupcake recipe, and quadrupled.
I like this particular vanilla cake recipe a lot, because it’s one bowl with very few steps, and results in a really light and springy cake (and I don’t even like vanilla cake much, it’s boring!)
480g all purpose flour – I have used gluten free with this recipe before
400g caster sugar
160g butter, softened
3 teasp vanilla essence
6 teasp baking powder
1 teasp of salt
Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Yield: a two layer square monster, 9″
- In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until the mixture looks sandy. Or, you can use the rub-in method.
- Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
- Drop in the milk, egg, and vanilla essence. Mix until just smooth, try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
- Split into two square tins. Fill only 1/2 to 1/3 full, this cake rises a lot!
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. I’d start checking at 35 minutes for done-ness.
Cream Cheese Orange Icing
Adapted from BraveTart’s SMB though it isn’t really SMB anymore given that I used whole eggs. The yolk / white wastage makes me sad, so I only do SMB or Faux French if I have leftover egg parts.
I know it’s a pain, but weigh everything really well okay? Even the egg. I ended up creating an excel sheet to calculate weights based on the weight of the egg parts…super nerd with bad mental maths. Let me know if you want it.
300g whole eggs – this was 3 eggs for me
300g castor sugar
490g butter, softened + cubed
490g cream cheese, softened + cubed
1/2 teasp salt
Zest of 4 oranges – the ones used below for decor
- Beat eggs into sugar and salt, until the egg whips up.
- Heat over a water bath until it steams, approx 150 degrees C. I just look for steam, I don’t have a thermometer. Whisk continuously!
- Once it steams quite regularly, remove and beat until the mixture doubles in volume. Another test for this is to put some between your fingers, and see whether you can feel sugar crystals.
- Keep beating until it gets cool, otherwise stick it in the fridge for some time until it gets back to room temperature.
- Once it hits room temperature, dump in the butter and whisk until smooth.
- Now you can add your flavourings – namely cream cheese and orange zest. Beat all of them in until smooth, but don’t over mix or the cream cheese will go runny.
Note: my icing didn’t hold well up in the heat after a while, so I might try adding some white chocolate next time to attempt to stabilise it a bit. Suggestions welcome.
Build the beast
About 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented. Be careful not to break the sacs!
- Peel and set aside mandarin oranges, after breaking into segments. Leave them on a sheet of kitchen paper, so that all the juices get soaked up and the segments don’t drip all over your icing.
- Slather icing between, and on top of all sides of the two stacked cakes. Cool in the fridge in between coats if like me, your icing is a bit drippy.
- Arrange the oranges in a pretty flower pattern, and place this (piece by piece, unfortunately) on top of the cake.