Verdict: win

You know those strawberry whipped cream cakes found at Chinese bakeries? The ones that are so light that they just melt in your mouth? Where the whipped cream is just teasingly sweet enough, leaving you begging for another bite? MMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm... My new favorite is at Golden Delight Bakery in Columbus (their Pandan cake is fantastic too), though Mrs. Wu absolutely makes the best homemade ones.

I wanted to try making a cupcake version...but those strawberry cakes can be ridiculously hard to make. Again, it's the craft of whipping egg whites (since there's no chemical leavening agent in this recipe) that makes this cake recipe fickle. I feel that I've become better at whipping egg whites just the right amount now that I've tackled and conquered macarons, so I felt fairly confident with adapting this online cake recipe into cupcakes.

For the most part, the cupcakes turned out well (tasted better after spending a night in the fridge too). Slightly drier and the cake was more "eggy" than I would've liked, but the whipped cream was lick-off-your-fingers fantastic. I also used raspberries instead of strawberries just because they were in season (and made adorable cupcake toppers).

I'm going to keep my planned changes for the next time I try to make them short and sweet: 1) definitely brush the cakes with syrup to keep them moist, 2) try using cake flour, 3) use paper liners and fill them only 3/5ths to 3/4ths of the way full. I kept this description short, because in the end, I was craving Mrs. Wu's cake more than anything else. I'll have to ask her for her recipe :)

Raspberry Whipped Cream Cupcakes adapted from Chinese Bakery Style Birthday Cake by Lucy Zhang (also with help from pocket daydreams' tutorial)
Yield:about 18 cupcakes

For the cake:
3/4 cups of cake flour
0.8 cups of superfine sugar, split into 2 even portions
6 large eggs, room temperature, separated into yolks and whites
1-1/2 tbsp canola oil
1-1/2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Simple syrup (1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp water)

For the whipped cream frosting:
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 cups (1 pint) of chilled heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp of confectioner’s sugar
1 pint raspberries (2 half pint boxes at the store)

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Warm eggs to room temperature, and separate into 6 yolks and 6 egg whites. Be sure to separate carefully because any bit of yolk that gets into the egg whites will make whipping the whites much more difficult.

Mix first sugar portion (0.4 cups) with the egg yolks and beat until slightly thick and pale yellow. Then stir in vanilla to the yolk mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they are 60% foamy (a little more than halfway to forming stiff peaks). Add the remaining portion of sugar (0.4 cups) in three separate additions while continuing to whip egg whites. Continue until stiff peaks form when the beaters are pulled away from the foam (this is meringue).

Combine 1/2 of the meringue with the egg yolk mixture, fold in carefully to minimize volume loss. Gradually add flour and mix. Then add melted butter and milk to the batter.

Finally, fold in the remaining half of the meringue carefully. Divide batter into cupcake liners (about 3/4 full). Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 340 degrees F until tops are a light brown (it’s important that you bake the cake immediately after the batter is finished, as the meringue will tend to re-liquefy as it sits around). Remove cupcakes from oven and leave in pan to cool to room temperature.

For the whipped cream frosting:
Smoosh 1/2 pint raspberries in a bowl with a fork (save the rest of the raspberries to top the final product with, or just eat them). Soak gelatin powder in the smooshed, liquidy raspberry mixture for 5 minutes to let it absorb the raspberry juices.

Dissolve gelatin by placing it the bowl of raspberry-gelatin mixture over a small pot of simmering water and stirring until not cloudy. Let cool but do not let it get cold.

Meanwhile, use an electric standing or hand-held mixer to beat heavy cream in a large well-chilled bowl. Beat cream on low speed until small bubbles form (about 30 seconds), then increase speed to medium and beat until beaters leave a trail in the cream (about 30 seconds). Finally, increase speed to high, moving beaters around bowl and beat until just before it becomes soft and billowy. Slowly add sugar and vanilla at the sides of the bowl while continuing to whip until it is barely stiff.
Gently fold in the the raspberry-gelatin mixture. Use immediately for frosting or refrigerate for later use.

To assemble the cupcakes:
Brush cooled cupcakes with simple syrup. Decoratively pipe whipped cream frosting onto each cupcake. Top with a raspberry.


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