Durian Cake, Singapore

Durian Cake.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

Part of my culinary adventures is to combine bits and pieces of knowledge and inspirations picked up from one context and transfer that to a different context, in anticipation of the results. Besides which, I didn’t think I could get away being back in Singapore without cooking or baking with the family.

Spongecake / sugar cake bases.

A baking project that came out of this visit was this Durian Cake that had a plain Swedish sockerkaka as its base. The recipe for the basic sponge cake or sockerkaka includes:

50 gram butter
2 large eggs
2 dl sugar
1 dl milk or water
2 1/2 dl flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla essence

Two round tin forms were buttered and floured and the oven set at 175C. I sometimes have the oven at a lower temperature depending on the oven type. The eggs and sugar were hand whisked till light yellow and fluffy and then the dry ingredients were folded into the egg batter. The melted butter went in last. Once the butter was incorporated into the mixture, it was divided equally between the two tins and baked for about 45 minutes in mid-shelf of the oven. These cake bottoms need to be thoroughly cooled before slicing them in two and before layering them with durian mousse.

Layering the durian mousse.

One of the advantages of making your own durian cake at home is that you have perfect control over what type and how much durian you’ll be using for the cake and if the durian fruit should be combined with another other flavours from gula Melaka to coconut. In this project, melted gula Melaka with coconut milk was used to wet the sponge bases of the cake, to get them moist, before layering the durian mousse. Here, I’m using the term “durian mousse” broadly because you could choose to combine durian with whipped cream, or simply have mashed durian in between the layers. If pure durian is used, the cake can get pretty filling after the first bite, and if you wish for a lighter texture, then you could opt for combining durian with whipped cream. For this cake, I had more durian in between the layers of the cake than over on the outside of the cake itself.

Topped with dessicated coconut. The glass art plate, made by Adrian Cordeiro.

Once the cake bottoms were cooled, they made for easier handling with layering of the durian. Once layered, a final covering of the cake with a lighter mixture of durian and whipped cream was done, and the cake topped with dessicated coconut.

This cake calls to mind such childhood adventures in Singapore as having ice-cream clammed between pieces of colourful bread and in a farther context, having a Peranakan styled durian gravy cooked in coconut milk and sweetened with gula Melaka over rice, for a meal. Somewhat odd combinations that in the Singapore context, fits perfectly in with the cultures and the times of the mid to late 1900s.

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