Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paper-wrapped Sponge Cake

My parents and I share a love for Chinese pastries. Any chance we get, we would stop at a Chinese bakery after a dim sum lunch to pick up pastries for our weekday morning snacks. At a Chinese bakery, you can purchase a plethora of savory, sweet, meat-filled or paste-filled buns, breads and tarts. If you've never been to one in your local Chinatown, I strongly suggest you find one! I guarantee you you will find a pastry that you will love. 

My mom and I share a favorite pastry - the sponge cake that is wrapped in paper - that is the literal translation of the pastry. Mom loves this pastry because of it's cake-like texture that isn't too sweet - yes, my mom doesn't like a lot of sweet things. Light and airy, this pastry is heaven and so much better than angel food cake and my mom would agree! To achieve this pastry, you need to bake them in tall paper cups that are lined with parchment paper. The height of these cakes help with the airy texture, so don't use your muffin tin.  This pastry is best when made fresh because the cake often dries out unless the sponge cake is kept wrapped with the paper. Try this with a cup of Hong Kong style tea!

This recipe is dedicated to my mom, in hopes she will try it someday.

The first trick to the paper cup and parchment paper is to cut a large enough sheet of parchment paper to be able to wrap the outer surface of the cup. This can be done by placing the paper in the middle of the paper and fold each corner of the paper into the cup. Then stack the paper/cup into another cup and pull out the inner cup so that the parchment paper is now inside the second cup.

Ok, so let's start baking!

5 egg yolks
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup warm milk

3/4 cup cake flour
1/8 cup corn starch corn starch
1/2 tsp baking powder

5 egg whites
1/4 cup of granulated sugar

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees F. Mix flour, corn starch and baking powder together and mix with a whisk to make sure there are no clumps. 

Simmer water in a sauce pan and place a mixing bowl over the sauce pan. Beat egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla essence together till thick and creamy. 

Stir the warm corn oil/melted butter and milk into the yolk mixture. Mix well. Fold in the mixed flour/dry ingredients and mix well.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites till white in color and add in sugar by thirds and beat till egg white is stiff. Some people say that if you can stand a spatula in the middle of the egg whites, then you've whipped it enough. 
See that spatula? It can stand!
Fold half portion of the egg white into egg yolk and blend well. Pour the yolk mixture into the remaining egg white and blend well.

Spoon batter into paper cups lined with baking paper up to 80% full and bake for 20 minutes or till golden brown. Make sure you carefully spoon the mixture into the cups. If not, the sides of the paper will burn and the sponge cakes won't look as nice. Sprinkle some slivers of almonds on top and place in the oven.

Bake and enjoy while hot! Yum


  1. Trish, love you for dedicating this posting of recipe to me ! It brings tears to my eyes. The cake is certainly delicious and I'm thrilled that it is our shared favorite. Mom.

  2. Very stylish and cute!

  3. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. Without a Chinese Bakery anywhere close to here, I end up driving over almost 2 hours to get these cupcakes and other Chinese confections once a month. I have been trying to learn how to make most of them but the cupcakes are my favorite and I have not been able to buy a pan online that would give me the needed height. Baking them in the paper cups is a great way to get around the pan.

  4. How much water did you use when you simmered it? First time trying this recipe so I'd rather not screw up. I've been missing this cake for so long, can't buy it where I live.

  5. Hey Anonymous,

    You don't need that much water, just enough for in the pot but the water level shouldn't touch the bowl. You basically just want to melt the butter indirectly.

    Thanks for reading and let us know how it goes!

  6. hi, I wanted to ask you is paper cups safe for oven like the one you drink coffee out, how to you place them , just like that in the oven or you put the paper cups in a muffin tin ?

    is this one safe ?