If you walk into a Hong-Kong style Chinese bakery, you won't find many buttercream-frosted cupcakes, brownies, or bar cookies. You're more likely to find plenty of simple egg-based cakes, buns (sweet as well as savory), and tarts. One of my favorite things to get from the Chinese bakery is a simple paper-wrapped sponge cake. They are light as air, soft and fluffy, and taste mildly sweet and eggy.
At the Chinese bakery, these paper-wrapped sponge cakes are tall, probably 3 times the height of these mini cakelettes that I made at home using a regular muffin tin. To make the traditionally tall/large versions, you could buy specific molds made for the purpose or use a large muffin tin or try a popover tin. I've also seen it made using freestanding paper cups lined with parchment paper.
These little cakes are very much like my favorite chiffon cake, in a smaller, portable form. In keeping with my small-batch tendency lately, I made half a dozen of these little cakes and realized this is one instance where small batch might not be the way to go. They vanished in no time, and they make a great little afternoon snack if you want something sweet but not overly so.
The little cakes are really light and fluffy. As a big fan of eggs in every form, I love this kind of simple dessert that's full of egg-flavor, lightly sweetened and boosting a hint of vanilla in the background. It may sound silly but I love the eggy aroma that permeates the house when I'm making something like this. I wouldn't mind if my house smelled like that all the time!
This homemade version tastes just like the ones at the bakery. Texture-wise, I think I need to work harder at reaching the supreme fluffy/airiness of the ones I get from the bakery. I'll also own that size-wise, the traditionally larger ones make more sense. Because they are so light, a large one is probably just more appropriately portioned. With these cakelettes, you just want to eat three in one sitting! So the way I look at it, I need to either make larger ones next time or at least double the recipe.