Hokkaido Cupcakes with Cream

 

One thing that often plagues me is that I can never get my sponge cakes to be soft and fluffy like the ones from the Chinese bakeries. There has to be some sort of special ingredient that gives the cake that ethereal texture, and for a long time, the answer has eluded me. I am generally not an advocate of instant cake mixes, as I find that they usually produce cakes with an unpleasant chemical aftertaste. This time however, I had to succumb to the fact that I am never going to achieve the perfect sponge unless I use a sponge cake mix of some sort. When I chanced upon this Hokkaido cake mix at a baking supplies store a few weeks ago, my gut (or more like my stomach) told me to grab a packet immediately. I then realised that I didn't have a recipe for the cake. Fortunately, when I approached the shop owner about it, she smiled and said "I'll give you the recipe". She proceeded to pull out a thick folder bursting with recipe printouts of all sorts, and handed me a small cut-out of the Hokkaido cake recipe which I safely tucked into my pocket. I continued eyeing the folder whilst secretly hatching a plan to recipe-nap it and run away. Well, that didn't happen, but I did ask her (nicely) for another recipe.

It appears that Hokkaido cake has been quite the fad since early last year, though I only managed to buy and eat some recently. I'm not exactly sure of the origin of these cakes, and contrary to its namesake, I read somewhere that it originated in Malaysia. Coincidentally, my cousin attended a baking class conducted by a Japanese lady, where she was teaching how to make Hokkaido Chiffon Cake, and it didn't look anything like the ones I made. I guess it's just like Hainanese chicken rice did not originate from Hainan Island, but Singapore/Malaysia.

Anyway, Hokkaido cupcakes are really popular in Malaysia and they are basically chiffon cupcakes with cream or custard centres. Sometimes they come in chocolate and other flavours too. I made plain ones with a fresh vanilla cream and custard filling, and that cake mix is fantastic. The cake was super soft, just like the ones I got from the bakery. The cake does shrink considerably straight out of the oven, but once you pipe the cream into the centre, it comes back to shape again.


The recipe below uses the Hokkaido cake mix (a blend of flours I presume), and if you don't have the cake mix, I suppose you could substitute with cake flour since it looks like a basic chiffon cake recipe.

Hokkaido Cake

Ingredients

5 egg yolks
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp milk
70g Hokkaido cake mix
25g corn oil or canola oil

5 egg whites
4 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Cream filling (mix together):
1 cup thickened cream, whipped
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 cup prepared instant custard (use instant custard powder mixed with milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Place egg yolks, sugar, milk and cake mix in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on medium speed until light and creamy. Then mix in the oil.

2. In a another bowl, whisk egg whites with sugar and cream of tartar until soft peaks (or just stiff), then fold in with the egg yolk mixture above.

3. Spoon the mixture into paper cups about three quarters full. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

4. Pipe the cream into the centre of the cakes, and dust the tops with icing sugar. Refrigerate before serving.

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