light and airy white cake with butter…
Some years ago, I moved out of my hometown of Brooklyn, New York to the Virginian Suburbs to reinvent my financial situation. I was temporarily leaving behind the love of my life and some of my favorite things about the city such as good bagels, good pizza, and especially exotic fruit at my local market.
Fortunately, after some neighborhood exploration, I discovered health food stores and international markets in my new town that had these items I used to be able to obtain by simply walking down the block from my apartment. It’s a longer hike, but the important thing is that I didn’t have to say goodbye to dragon fruit, jackfruit, rambutan, and especially lychees.
Around this time, I discovered the Great British Bake Off on Netflix and became obsessed. Inspired by one of my favorite contestants Chetna Makan, I created my own version of her lychee cake, which I made after an impulse buy of canned lychees and rambutan, some of my favorite summer fruits!
They’re awkward to use at first because they don’t cut and peel like apples and oranges, but they have a nice crisp flavor once you get under the ruby skin, and a lovely juice that dribbles from the flesh.
The cake I used is a light and airy white cake with butter. The layers are filled with homemade lychee jam, fresh lychee pieces, and unsweetened whipped cream. Do not add sugar to the whipped cream because the jam and added caramel sauce are already sweet, so the flavors balance out.
This is a lovely summer cake that I imagine myself eating outdoors with an ice cold glass of milk, lemonade, or green tea.
Lychee Victoria Sandwich
For the Cake
- ¾ Cup (90g) Egg Whites
- ¾ Cup (162ml) Whole Milk
- 1 TSP (6g) Vanilla Extract
- 1 Stick (113g) Butter, room temperature
- 1 ¾ Cup (200g) Cake Flour
- 1 Cup (200g) Sugar
- 2 ½ TSP (13g) Baking Powder
- ½ TSP (3g) Salt
- Simple syrup or honey for brushing optional: You can also use the syrup that comes in the lychee can.
For the Lychee Jam
- 20 oz (565g) Canned or Fresh Lychees or Rambutan (pitted). Set aside 7 lychees for cake topping; cut them into pieces.
- ½ Cup (140g) Sugar
- 1 TBSP (15g) Lemon Juice
For the Whipped Cream
- 1 ¾ Cups (300g) Heavy Cream
- 1 TSP (5g) Vanilla Extract
For the Caramel
- ½ Cup (100g) Sugar
- 2 TBSP (30g) Water
- 3 TBSP (40g) Unsalted Butter
- ¼ Cup (60g) Heavy Cream
Make the Cake
Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC).
Lightly mix together the egg whites, milk, and vanilla extract and set aside.
Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat in the butter until just combined. A third at a time, gradually beat in the egg and milk mixture. Mix well for 1 to 3 minutes to aerate the mixture, but do not overmix (this can make the cake taste tough and bread-like).
Spray two 6” or 8” cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with a cutout of parchment paper. Pour an equal amount of batter into each pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until cakes are golden ivory in color and a toothpick comes out clean when probed into the cake.
Immediately brush a thin layer of honey or simple syrup over the tops of the cake. This will prevent the cake from drying out and keep it nice and moist. Let cake cool down completely.
Make the Lychee Jam
Drain out the syrup in the canned lychees and puree the fruit. Place the puree, sugar, and lemon juice into a sauce pan and mix well. Cook the jam on medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes until jam thickens. Set jam aside to cool completely.
Make the Caramel
Combined the sugar and water in a small sauce pan or skillet and cook on medium heat. Using a pastry brush or a spoon filled with water, brush down the sugar crystals along the edges of the pan in order to prevent crystallization of the caramel. The caramel should turn from “wet sand” to golden brown syrup within 5 to 10 minutes. Do not stir it.
Add the butter and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Slowly add the heavy cream and stir it in quickly. Once fully combined, cook for another 2 to 4 minutes until caramel forms. Remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool completely.
Make the Whipped Cream
Combine the heavy cream and vanilla and whip with hand mixer until stiff peaks form. You can also use good old fashioned elbow grease and a whisk. Set whipped cream aside in the refrigerator until ready to frost the cake.
Assemble the Cake
Make sure that all of your ingredients are 100% cool. Nothing can be warm; else the cake will melt and fall apart. It is easier to assemble the cake if you refrigerate it overnight before frosting.
Using a serrated knife, cut each cake in neat halves. Starting with the bottom layer, slather a third of the lychee jam over the layer along with 4 large tablespoons of whipped cream and a few pieces of the chopped lychee. Repeat two more times until you have a tall lychee cake. Top the remainder of the cake with the remaining whipped cream and lychees.
Serve each slice of cake with a drizzle of caramel.
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