Edit 4/26/09: Oh my! This cake is so much better the next day. I just had a piece about 24+ hours after assembling it and it tastes so much more like a Chinese birthday cake. The sugar syrup and the Chantilly cream soaked into the cake, making it moister. The almonds almost got a little soft, just like how the almonds on a Chinese cake gets soft after sitting in the display case for several hours. No need to tweak the recipe now. The only tweak I think I would make is to try to get a finer texture. Chinese birthday cakes use some kind of superfine flour. This cake will make another appearance on someone's birthday. Too bad I won't be celebrating my birthday anywhere near a kitchen.
What I set out to make was a Chinese birthday cake. The kind of cake my parents used to buy for me on my birthdays. I was hoping a tweaked génoise cake would provide a suitable substitute since Chinese birthday cake is from the sponge cake family. The tweaked génoise is quite delicious but is not exactly a Chinese birthday cake. Chinese birthday cake is a light, fluffy and slightly sweet sponge cake with a light whipped frosting and filled with you choice of strawberries, bananas, pineapple or thick slippery coconut jelly. I like the strawberry and coconut combination but I'm not sure where to purchase the coconut jelly.
This génoise cake is light but has a somewhat drier texture than a Chinese birthday cake. It is a very versatile cake and can be used for many different applications such as petits fours, jelly rolls and the base for baked Alaskas. The cake was not the Chinese birthday cake I set out to make but it wasn't a disappointment. It is the perfect cake for me since it doesn't require piping any frosting or any real cake decorating skills. (My lack of fine motor skills is the reason why I didn't go into the baking and pastry program.)
Below is the recipe for a génoise cake. I don't want to call it a Chinese birthday cake because despite my tweaking, the texture is more génoise-like. I will try tweaking the recipe until I get it more Chinese birthday cake-like.
Here is the recipe from Williams-Sonoma for Strawberry Génoise with Whipped Cream. There is a very pretty picture of the cake but I didn't exactly work off that recipe.
Génoise Layer Cake with Chantilly Cream, Strawberries and Toasted Almonds
(make one 9-inch round cake)
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
120 grams sugar
4 grams salt
150 grams cake flour
35 grams canola oil
35 grams milk
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon cherry flavored brandy or liqueur such as Kijafa, Kirschwasser or Acerola
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup toasted slivered almonds
1 pound strawberries, sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and spray oil on sides of pan. Sift the cake flour and set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk eggs, sugar and salt by hand until combine. Place the bowl over a bain-marie and gently whisk about 3 minutes. Remove from bain-marie and with the balloon whisk attachment of an electric mixer, beat on high (Speed 8) until the mixture is pale, tripled in volume and forms thick ribbons, 5-7 minutes. Turn mixer to low (speed 4) and whisk for another two minutes to stabilize the mixture.
After whisking for about 10 minutes, the egg mixture forms thick ribbons.
3. Add sifted cake flour to the batter and gently fold in the flour until well blended.
4. Mix about a third of the batter with the oil in a separate bowl and then fold the mixture into the rest of the batter. Add milk and gently fold until fully incorporated. Be very careful during the folding. Do no over-fold or the batter will deflate.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 20 to 30 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
6. While cake is cooling, make the sugar syrup. Bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat until dissolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool and then add the cherry liqueur.
7. When cake is cool and ready to assemble make Chantilly cream. Combine the all the ingredients of Chantilly cream in the bowl of any electric mixer. With the balloon whip attachment, whip until cream forms medium-stiff peaks. Set aside.
Chantilly cream is pretty much a fancier name for whipped cream.
8. Cool cake on wire rack. Run a knife around the outer edges to aid removal of cake. Invert cake on to a clean work surface. Using a sharp slicer, slice the cake into 2 layers. Place the top layer, cut side up, on a serving platter. Brush the layer with sugar syrup. Spread a third of the Chantilly cream on the layer. Top with sliced strawberries. Position the second layer on top of the first (cut side down). Brush with the remaining sugar syrup. Spread the remaining Chantilly cream on top and sides of cake. Garnish edge of cake with toasted sliced almonds and decorate top of cake with sliced strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cake sliced into two layers.
The golden color of sponge cakes look wonderful with red strawberries.