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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vanilla cake with lychee-coconut icing makes strange bedfellows

Here's my grouse : 'invisible icing'  sandwiched between the top and bottom layers of the cake

It was all my doing. All because I wanted to use up some leftover frosting from my previous project.

When I saw this on janesweets, I got rather excited because it somehow reminds me of the cakes I had in Vienna recently. But as I set off to bake it, I realized that pairing cake and frosting is far from arbitrary; one must take into account taste, character and colour.

The end result, a big deviation from Jane, is a cake with a frosting that looks as transparent as glass. I was not trying for zen, but this is how it turned out to be. In fact, vanilla cake and lychee-coconut frosting are strange bedfellows that needs some getting used to - which I did after polishing off more than half of it !

Coconut lychee on vanilla cake can be rather nice.
The cake base recipe is adapted from , with minimal adjustment.

3 1/2  cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
1 cup milk
4 eggs, room temperature
2 egg whites
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Vanilla seeds from one pod of vanilla

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk in butter and half of the milk, 4 minutes.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, egg whites, the rest of the milk, vanilla extract and seeds.  Add the egg mix to the flour mix until homogenous. Do not overwork the batter.

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Jane suggested pouring the batter into 2 baking tins , which  form the top and bottom halves of the cake,  and baking  them at 180 C for 35 minutes each. As I have only one tin, I baked the cake in one springform tin. The compromise is that the cake rises in the middle, which has to be shaved off with a long knife , causing considerable waste. I salvaged it by breaking it into plain yogurt and dumped it inside my tummy.

Cool the cake thoroughly before proceeding for easy handling. If you are using one  baking tin like I did, level off the domed top of the cake and halve the cake across horizontally.

Spread half of  your favorite frosting  on the bottom half of the cake, assemble back the top half and spread  the rest of the frosting on the top layer , including the sides. I used the leftover lychee coconut frosting from the lychee cupcake recipe ( which unfortunately was not enough for the sides  ). A more classic and elegant  way  would be to use a chocolate based butter cream like Jane did, which provides good contrast in colour and compatibility in taste .

Oh  well, there is always a next time.

Verdict : The lychee coconut frosting   stands out because of the fragrance of coconut and you really need a good eye to see the frosting sandwiched between the cakes. I should have slathered it with a chocolate buttercream   but then again, lychee frosting on vanilla cake is one less option  to consider next time. Despite using cake flour, the cake does not achieve the desired lightness in texture , probably due to the order in which the ingredients are  mixed.


  1. The cake looks good to me...I have never tasted a cake that is frosted with lychee coconut icing...I bet it must be good! Whenever I end up in a situation similar to yours, my sons would assure me that we eat with our mouth not our eyes :)

  2. Happy Homebaker,sometimes wisdom comes out from the mouths of babes..