20 November 2015

Meg's Pastry Studio - white cake or sponge cake

My most popular or rather, main cake order is the rainbow cake or ombre cake.

Usually when customers send an inquiry, I would offer 2 choices for the cake base, either white cake or sponge cake.

A lot of my customers are repeat customers or referred through word-of-mouth, because they like it that my cakes are less sweet, very tender and light, suitable for the elderly as well as young children; and even folks who don't usually like cakes and cream enjoyed my cakes.

Most of the time, customers preferred the sponge cake, but sometimes I do get requests for the white cake due to specifications like vibrant colours, able to stand at room temperature/outdoors, very tall cakes, full buttercream rosette piping.

That said, I must highlight that the white cake is not exactly very delicious, or should I say, not as delicious as the sponge cake. So it's kind of difficult to explain to customers who made requests for the white cake (due to the specifications).

Another point that I would like to emphasize, my cakes are freshly baked (one day in advance only - reason in disclaimer below), no preservatives or chemicals like ovalette, sponge gel which are used in commercially-sold cakes to make the cakes more tender and last longer (only agents used where necessary are baking powder, baking soda or cream of tartar).

Here are the differences between white cake and sponge cake, their pros and cons.

White cake

This is baked using a white cake recipe. Cake texture is firmer (as seen from the tight and neat crumbs), ombre colours quite distinct.
  • I have shared recipes before here and here. Ingredients used are cake flour (Prima), baking powder, salt, unsalted butter (usually President or SCS, sometimes Elle & Vire or Lurbak), caster sugar (SIS), egg whites, fresh milk (Meiji brand) and flavoring of choice like vanilla, lychee, mango). Cake batter is made at one go, coloured then baked in individual baking pans. Coloring used is Wilton gel paste.
  • Cake texture is more dense, firm and heavy.
  • Cake tastes sweeter, somewhat flat.
  • Able to take in colours better (batter is whitish as only egg whites are used), i.e. achieve the very vibrant rainbow colours or more distinct ombre shades
  • Preferably paired with a more heavy textured frosting such as buttercream or cream cheese.
  • Able to stand in room temperature for prolonged period. Must thaw in room temperature for at least 30 mins if stored in fridge otherwise cake and cream will be very hard.

Sponge cake

This is baked using a sponge cake recipe. Cake texture is more fluffy (as seen from the more airy crumbs), ombre colours not as distinct.
  •  I HAVE NOT shared the recipe before because the method used is quite tedious, and difficult to explain. Basically I use the genoise sponge method, batter for each cake layer is prepared and baked individually i.e. finish one cake layer, wash up, then do another layer, repeat for all layers. Very time consuming and tedious. And I use a percentage table for different sizes of cake. Ingredients used are, Japanese Nissen brand cake flour, Japanese jyohakuto sugar, fresh milk (I will use Hokkaido milk if possible, else Meiji brand), eggs, unsalted butter (usually President or SCS, sometimes Elle & Vire or Lurbak) and flavorings of choice. Coloring used is Wilton gel paste.
  • Cake texture is very tender, fluffy and light.
  • Cake tastes less sweet, more refined.
  • Unable to take in colours very well (batter is yellowish as full eggs are used), i.e. achieve more pastel shades of colour and less distinct ombre shades. In addition, colours like blue usually turns out turquoise with tinge of green (yellow + blue = green).
  • Preferably paired with lighter frosting such as chantilly cream (whipping cream + mascarpone cheese) or pure whipping cream.
  • Unable to stand in room temperature as the cake is very tender and cream very light, cake will melt/collapse easily.
Buttercream or Chantilly Cream
  • For basic buttercream frosting, I usually go for Swiss Meringue Buttercream because it's more stable at room temperature and yet I could adjust sugar level to make it less sweet. Ingredients used are egg whites, caster sugar and unsalted butter. It can stand at room temperature for an hour without collapsing. Buttercream can be used to pipe more defined designs like rosette and hold the shape well.
  • For Chantilly Cream frosting, it's whipping cream (dairy) and mascarpone cheese, with or without icing sugar. I find that adding mascarpone cheese makes the frosting slightly more stable and creamy. That said, this frosting needs to be chilled at all times, maybe at most 15 mins at room temperature. Chantilly cream frosting cannot hope shape very well, can only pipe simple designs. This frosting pairs with sponge cake very well.

  • Each and every cake is handcrafted specially, no orders are exactly the same.
  • Colours/shades may not be the same as requested, because every batch of ingredients differ, for example, colour of butter, colour of egg yolk.
  • Cakes are usually baked one day ahead, in order for the cream to set overnight which is essential (tried baking on same day before and cream couldn't set in time and cake layers actually shifted a little!). And also to buffer for any mishap or unsatisfactory result (yes, have re-baked cake layers before or scrap off frosting to re-do).
Anyways, I know I'm catering to a niche market and would like to remain status quo for now, i.e. continue this baking business as a hobby and on availability basis because family priorities come first.

If you are still keen to order cakes from me, please drop me an email at megtan@singnet.com.sg
Thank you!

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