Since moving away from my hometown, I often have strong cravings for foods from Hong Kong. These cravings are especially intense when I am sick. Last month, when I was recovering from a cold, I had a serious craving for some paper-wrapped cake 紙包蛋糕 (zi² baau¹ daan⁶ gou¹). When I was a little girl, my mom would buy these small cakes for me when I was sick. It’s really amazing how food can evoke memories, and emotions – especially from our childhood.
This Hong Kong paper-wrapped cake 紙包蛋糕 is simple (only 7 ingredients) yet extremely satisfying. It’s not overly sweet, and has no fancy icing or decorations. But when you unwrap the paper, a naturally aromatic and fluffy golden cake will be revealed.
No artificial coloring is used to achieve its bright golden color, and no leavening agent is used to achieve the light and spongy texture. The magic is all in the eggs! 5 eggs are used to create the cake’s natural golden color. And beating the separated egg whites to a stiff peak gives the cake its fluffy texture.
The traditional shape of this Hong Kong paper-wrapped cake is taller and narrower than the common American jumbo muffin. I have used a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan to make these cakes, but just feel like it’s missing something–the shape in my memory. So I searched around in stores and online, and finally found this Wilton 6-cup giant muffin and cupcake pan that is as close as it gets. Look how much taller the new pan is!
Don’t worry if you don’t want to buy another muffin pan. The great taste and cloud-like texture are not affected by the shape of the pan. I just felt compelled by nostalgia to accurately recreate the Hong Kong paper-wrapped cake of my childhood!
Hong Kong paper-wrapped cake 紙包蛋糕
Kitchen instrument of the day: Wilton 6-cup giant muffin and cupcake pan
- Milk — 60 ml
- Unsalted butter — 50 g
- 5 large eggs, separate the yolks from the whites
- Vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla extract) — ¼ tsp
- Cake flour — 100 g
- Cream of tartar — ¼ tsp
- Granulated sugar — 80 g
1. Move an oven rack to the lower third of the oven, and heat the oven to 350oF.
2. Pour milk (60 ml) in a large bowl.
3. Melt the butter (50 g) in the microwave, and let it cool for a minute.
4. Whisk constantly while slowly adding the melted butter to the milk. Keep whisking until the mixture is thickened.
5. Separate the 5 egg yolks from the egg whites. Put the yolks in a small bowl, and put the whites in a stand mixer bowl and set aside.
6. Add the 5 eggs yolks to the butter-milk mixture (from step 4) and whisk until it’s smooth and golden.
7. Add the vanilla extract (¼ tsp) to the mixture and mix well.
8. Sift the cake flour (100 g) over the mixture.
9. Gently whisk the flour into the mixture, just until no flour is visible. Don’t over mix.
10. Add the cream of tartar (¼ tsp) to the egg whites.
11. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with the whisk attachment at medium speed until foamy.
12. With the stand mixer running on low speed, slowly add the granulated sugar (80 g).
13. Turn the stand mixer to a high speed until the egg whites form a stiff peak.
14. Gently fold a small amount of the egg whites into the egg yolks/flour mixture (from step 9) with a rubber spatula (not a whisk). Then, gently fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixture in 3-4 batches, just until there are no visible white streaks. Don’t over mix, otherwise the batter will be deflated and the cake will not be fluffy.
16. Line the 6-cup giant muffin and cupcake pan with paper liners or folded-up parchment paper.
17. Divide the batter evenly into the lined muffin pan.
18. Bake for 25 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.
19. Let the cakes rest for a couple minutes in the pan, then remove them from the pan to cool on a wire rack.
20. Enjoy one, or in my case two, with a cup of coffee!
I just recreated one of my childhood cravings. What are your childhood cravings?