Since I discovered this recipe on flourtrader.blogspot.com a few months ago, I’ve been so intrigued, not only by the colors but also the concept. It’s actually a chiffon cake baked in layer pans instead of the traditional angel food cake tin. And ever since I saw it, I’ve been planning how to make it.
This is a copycat recipe, so called because it attempts to duplicate a famous recipe, in this case the signature cake of King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant in Torrance, California, whose recipe, unfortunately, is a secret. King’s Hawaiian Bakery’s technicolor cake originally featured three layers: guava, passion fruit, and lime. The top layer is pink, the middle is orange, and the bottom is green.
I had intended to bring the nectars for the cake with me from New York but I forgot. So I had to go with the juices available here in Bangkok. The top layer is strawberry, the middle is orange, and the bottom is guava. In Thailand, guava is a bland green fruit known as farang. It is eaten sliced with a spicy dip prik kleua or chili-salt which names two of the three main ingredients in this dip, the other being sugar. But I digress.
I wanted this cake to be made with all natural ingredients. So I brought natural food colors with me from Whole Foods in New York. As you can see, the colors are not as vibrant as the artificial food colors. I did not want to use artificial flavoring so I used the zest of the farang and the zest of an orange to boost the flavor of the juices in those layers.
So with the dissertation drafted and submitted to my sponsor and committee just before New Year’s Eve, I decided to try this recipe today. The strawberry flavor is distinctive, and so is the orange, but unfortunately, the farang flavor is barely there. I loved the whipped cream icing–light and slightly sweet without being overpowering. I call this version 1.0 because I am quite sure I am going to tinker with this recipe again until it is perfection.
Have at room temperature:
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 1/4 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon
2/3 cups white superfine sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (2 oz) key lime juice
1/4 cup (2 oz) guava nectar
1/4 cup (2 oz) passion fruit nectar
5 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoon each flavoring, optional
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
liquid food coloring: yellow, red, and green (I recommend natural food coloring)
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white superfine sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Get 6 mixing bowls together and 3 eight- inch spring form cake pans, preferably non-stick. Do not grease and flour the sides or the bottoms. Set aside.
Cake Baker’s Note: I had followed the original recipe and greased and floured three 9-inch cake pans. Mistake. Chiffon cakes are too delicate to bake in greased pans. They sag under their own weight. Better to use ungreased springform pans.
2. In a large bowl, sift flour with 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a second bowl, beat together oil, water, yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest until just combined. Mix yolk mixture into flour mixture until smooth. The consistency will be thick, like cookie dough. Divide the batter into thirds and place in separate bowls. In one bowl of batter, add the key lime juice. In another, add the guava nectar. In the third, add the passion fruit nectar. Add flavoring, if using. Next, add the food coloring: green for the lime layer, red for the guava layer, and orange for the passion fruit layer. Make the colors darker because the addition of the egg whites will lighten the batter. Do not mix until the nectar/juice, flavoring, and coloring have been added.
Cake Baker’s Note: Here’s a sampler for mixing colors–
Orange: 2 drops yellow, 1 drop red (passion fruit, mango)
Green: 1 drop yellow, 3-4 drops blue (farang/guava, lime)
Yellow: (banana, pineapple)
Red: (guava, strawberry)
I unintentionally over-mixed the orange and guava layers, which is why they are not as fluffy as the pink layer. I should have mixed the colors separately and then added them to the batter. I used about 5 drops red for the pink layer, a total of 9 drops for the orange, and after mistakenly adding red to the green, I think 9-12 drops will do it. I omitted the lemon zest and added 2 teaspoons orange zest to the orange layer and 1 tablespoon farang/guava zest to the farang/guava layer.
3. Using a clean bowl and beaters free of grease, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add the 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Divide the whipped egg whites by thirds and add each third to the batter. Fold. Pour each one into a prepared cake pan.
4. Put each pan in the oven. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove pans from the oven and place upside down on wire racks to cool completely. Re-invert pans and run a thin sharp blade around the edges to loosen the cake. Remove the sides. Invert the cake and remove the bottom using a sharp thin blade. Insert the blade between the cake and the pan bottom and press away from the pan. Once the cake is released from the pan bottom, re-invert the cake for filling and frosting.
5. Fill and frost with whipped cream icing and glaze with fruit syrup (recipes to follow).
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup white superfine sugar
1/2 cup nectar or juice
5 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water
Mix the corn syrup and juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until dissolved. Mix cornstarch mixture with sugar/juice mixture. Let cool. You can also put this in the fridge for 45 minutes to speed up the process
Whipped Cream Icing
1 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature (reduced fat will work too)
1/2 cup white superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups heavy cream
Combine cream cheese, sugar, and extracts in a mixer. While the mixer is running on medium speed, add the cream. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fill and frost the cake then refrigerate it until ready to slice and serve.
Slice the cake and spoon the fruit syrup over each slice just before serving. Serve each slice with a spoonful of fresh fruit, such as sliced berries, mango, and kiwi.