Have you ever been to a Chinese bakery?
No? Get out. Right now (it’s the end of you and me). No, but really, please take your lovely self to a Chinese bakery as soon as possible. It is – in one word –incredibleamazingdelicious. Got that?
As soon as you step in the door, your senses will be assaulted by the sweet scent of fresh bread, as your eyes take in rows and rows of puffy, golden, gorgeous pastries: some topped with sesame seeds, others filled with curry chicken, or black sesame paste, or taro, and all so, so, mouthwateringly tasty.
Without fail, one of the items on offer will be this mini sponge cake…and if the bakery you visit doesn’t make these, run away as fast as you can. Actually, literally translated from Chinese, these cakes are called “Paper-Wrapped Cakes.” But I think the name “mini sponge cake” sounds a bit more appealing, and accurately sums up the product.
These are, after all, made from a sponge cake batter, which is poured into a paper cup. I remember asking my sister a couple of years ago where she thought the bakeries bought such awesome-shaped paper cups. She looked at me like a total idiot, and then proceeded to completely disillusion me by informing me that the bakeries fitted sheets of paper into the pan, and that no magic paper cup maker existed. Thanks for ruining my childhood (okay, maybe I was 20 at that point in time).
However, I suppose I should thank my sister now, because, due to her baking knowledge, I realized that I could make these babies at home using good old parchment paper! And I did. Just for you (me). I’ve been working with my dad’s sponge cake recipe, and decided to try a version out on these mini sponge cakes. The results? Nearly as good as I remember from my childhood. And even back then, I knew how a paper-wrapped cake should taste.
Mini Sponge Cakes
Yield: About 12 cakes
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 5 eggs
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup milk
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut out 12 squares of parchment paper, each measuring 4×4 inches, and set aside with a cupcake pan.
- Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder, then set aside.
- Separate the egg yolks and whites. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until foamy, then add sugar until mixture turns completely white and a “beak” forms on the end of the beater when you lift it out of the mixture.
- Whisk egg yolks in separate bowl, then fold into the egg white mixture.
- Gently fold the dry mixture into the egg mixture.
- Heat milk, butter, and vanilla extract in a saucepan until butter melts, then gently fold into the batter.
- For each cake, press the parchment paper into the bottom of the cupcake mold until the paper pleats on the sides. Then, pour the batter in until the mold is about ¾ of the way full. Repeat for remaining cakes.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.