Chinese paper-wrapped sponge cakelettes

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.

These little paper-wrapped sponge cakes are one of those things I've wanted to try to make for a long time.  I think we always want to re-create things we buy and love to eat, at home with our own hands.  Since I love to eat so many things, I have a long list!  For practical purposes, I wanted to make these cakes with things I already had at home.  So I used my regular muffin tin and made my own parchment paper liners for them.
I cut 6-inch squares of parchment paper and molded them over a small can (one that would fit/sit in the opening of one of the muffin cups) to crease into shape.  This is as crafty as I get, which is to say I am not crafty at all.
Because the recipe I used was set in grams, I was able to scale it down pretty easily to make these inaugural six.  (In hindsight, I'd double the recipe for a full dozen of these little cakes.)
I have to tell you that for some reason, I was compelled to tap my batter on the countertop (I was concerned about the batter not reaching all the corners of the paper liners) and that probably was not a smart move when the cake batter is a fluffy one where you want to preserve the airiness.  Hopefully, my banging didn't do too much harm but I'll be sure to skip that step next time.
The cakelettes are so light and rather adorable.  It's fun to unwrap them from their papers...and just dig right in.
It doesn't take more than a few bites to devour one of these.
With matcha desserts everywhere lately, I was tempted to flavor these with some matcha powder.  In the end, I stuck with the classic and what I know I'dm sure to love, which are this purely eggy little bites.  But for anyone more adventurous than myself, a green tea version might be worth a try.


Recipe:

Chinese Paper-Wrapped Sponge Cakelettes
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia

- Recipe makes 6 cakelettes (I recommend doubling recipe) - 

2 large or extra-large eggs, separated
36 grams superfine sugar
24 grams cake flour
6 grams cornstarch
Small pinch of salt
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 grams melted butter

Line a standard-size muffin tin with six parchment paper liners.  I made my own according to these instructions.  Preheat oven to 392 degrees (200C).

Sift the cake flour, cornstarch, and salt together twice and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), whip the egg whites until foamy.  Continue whipping while gradually adding the sugar to the mixture until stiff peaks just form.

Lightly beat the egg yolks together with a fork.  Add vanilla extract and scrape the yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites and gently fold together.  Add the sifted flour and fold in until combined, and there are not streaks of flour in the batter.  Mix a few tablespoons of the batter with the melted butter, then add this mixture back into the batter and fold again to combine.

Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter among the six paper liners.  Place the muffin tin into the oven, then immediately turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cakes are golden brown.



32 comments:

  1. These are such awesome cakes!! They definitely look super light and fluffy :)

    Sues

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    1. Just a couple of bites and they're gone. :)

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  2. Oh my gosh, we love these little sponge cakes from the bakery! They are my husband's favorite!! Yours look so fluffy and light and I love that you wrapped them up just like the bakery version! They look perfect!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kelly. Aren't they the best at the bakeries...kind of like those little egg waffles, too. Aren't those also amazing?! I was yearning for the tall lofty ones after making these but it totally hits the spot if you want to make some at home. : )

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  3. These little sponge cakes are so light and beautiful.

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    1. Thanks - us fans of chiffon cakes would adore these little things.

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  4. Gorgeous sponge cakes. Super yummy. :)

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  5. MY GOODNESS! Monica, you take me right back home! My mom used to buy these for my sis and I as breakfast all the time! I miss these little 紙包蛋糕! As you said, they are so soft and fluffy. Great useful tips for the parchment liners. Have to make this soon! Bookmarking and pinning!

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    1. I wish I could read Chinese! haha. I hear you. I used to make a quick lunch of them on the go and every time, I marvel at how perfectly light and soft they are! You know I have been trying to figure out how to make the typical Chinese sponge cakes (the ones for layered chestnut cakes) and that recipe eludes me. I hear that it's actually made from a box/mix! Can it be??!

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    2. Oooooo.... You can't read Chinese? I was wrote "paper wrapped sponge cake" in Chinese. When you mean "typical Chinese sponge cakes", are you referring to those in HK Maxim's Cakes? If so, I think those are chiffon cakes.

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    3. Fluent in Cantonese but can't read/write. I'm talking about those cakes - 2 layers of sponge/chiffon with chestnut puree in the center and whipped cream all around? I love those things and wish I had the whole recipe to make at home! I'll settle for these basic chiffons but I do love those chestnut cakes. : )

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    4. I think the chestnut cake is called either mont blanc or chestnut cream cake.The following recipe may help. http://norecipes.com/mont-blanc-chestnut-cream-cake/

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    5. Thank you! Funny enough, I've seen this in my search for the cake recipe. I think it is very similar to the bakery cakes, just composed differently.

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  6. These are beautiful! I am glad you did not flavor them with matcha because they are so amazing, fluffy and classic by themselves. I am never the one for trends so I am going to make this version itself. I've tried something similar at our local Chinese bakery..they're actually mini chiffon cakes and taste just the way you have described. Great that I have the recipe now:-)

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    1. It's funny because the times in the past (when I first started the blog) when I tried to follow trends or post things when I was "supposed" to, I was mostly disappointed and unhappy with it...so I stopped and I mostly just make things my family and I will most likely enjoy, while making some room for trying new things and branching out a bit at the same time. These little eggy cakes are a classic for us and I could eat them all the time. Thanks, Sonali.

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  7. That golden crust is incredible! The lovely soft crumb inside - gosh I would love to taste these. I love a simply wonderful cake - it sure looks light and not overly sweet. Beautiful Monica!

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    1. It's fragrant, light, and mildly sweet. It's like a chiffon cake but even softer, Tricia.

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  8. Gorgeous! These are just like the ones that you buy Monica. Wow you did such a great job with them and thanks for sharing the recipe :D

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    1. Thanks, Lorraine. I wished I'd been able to make them tall like they are traditionally because I just wanted to eat 3 in one sitting anyway! Cakelettes are cute though. : )

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  9. I LOOOVVEEE Chinese sweets, exactly because they're not crazy decadent but are still totally delicious! These little sponge cakes sound so good!

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    1. That's exactly how it is...for something a bit sweeter, I like to go for the little chestnut tarts and things like that. These eggy sponge cakes have a special place in this egg-lover's heart. : )

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  10. I love how fluffy these look! I have really been loving lightly sweetened baked goodies lately - although I could probably eat the entire batch in one sitting :)

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    1. I guess this is the kind of sweet we can eat a bit more often if we're going to be realistic about it. I'm glad I like this kind of baked good a lot so it's no sacrifice. Wanting to eat them all is a problem for me too though. ; )

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  11. Never heard of such magical things beffore but im loving these!

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  12. These look so soft and fluffy! I'm pretty sure I would have to double the recipe. :)

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    1. We could have polished off another 6 of these cakelettes pretty easily, too. Thanks, Betty.

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  13. Monica, I've seen them, eaten, enjoyed them and now I know how to make them. Thanks so much for sharing this fluffy, simple sponge cakes. Looks so so good. My boys love it. I'm so glad, you left the matcha out, sometimes the simplest and the original ones are the best. I'm printing it make soon. xoxo

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    1. Thanks, Asha. I'm glad I kept them in their plain eggy vanilla-y goodness, too.

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  14. Hi! Thank you for posting, ive been searching for this recipe, but the bakery that I used to go to had coffee sponges like these. Any ideas on how to add that bit of coffee? I'm thinking add some instant espresso? Or a shot of cold espresso to the beaten yolks?

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    1. Hi there...obviously, I've not tried it but I think both of your ideas make sense. I know that whenever I make coffee flavored bakes, I go with instant espresso powder...they dissolve quickly and you don't have to worry about watering down the batter too much vs. using brewed coffee or espresso. Good luck with your endeavor!

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