Chiffon and on and on.
July 13, 2017 4:00 AM   Subscribe

We've seen lots of cakes covered in heavy fondant and mirror-finish glazes, but Singaporean baker Susanne Ng's pastel-hued Instagram is full of "naked" and fluffy chiffon cakes, fashioned into everything from cute penguins to rainbows (lots of rainbows!) to a cloud cake that looks as light as air. Her YouTube channel has a few videos, and her website is chock full of more cakes, cupcakes, and recipes, including these adorable animal macarons. Bonus: Cakespy's The Story Of Chiffon Cake.
posted by Room 641-A (41 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Naked cakes are the best cakes. Frosting is a lie that hides this truth.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:13 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


OMG they're so CUTE.
posted by cooker girl at 5:27 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Mom used to make delicious chiffon cakes. They just looked like unfrosted chiffon cakes, but they were so good.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:56 AM on July 13




It seems to me that these would require ice cream.

I dunno, they are very beautiful, especially the cloud cake, and I'm sure they taste good for chiffon cake, but I tend to feel that a cake needs richness - neither fondant-covered cake nor a bare chiffon is really going to be as good as either a rich plain cake or a cake with buttercream, whipped cream or meringue.

I do want to stress that the cloud cake is so very, very pretty, though.
posted by Frowner at 6:36 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


As a hater of frosting, this is for me.

(I don't mind a little drizzle, glaze or powdered sugar though.)
posted by emjaybee at 6:43 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


It's the consistency of the colour, too. Those rainbow cakes have exactly the right saturation and hue to make that pleasingly artistic contrast between the layers. I can't imagine how she pulls that off without several burettes full of food colouring and and an absolute ton of patience.
posted by Eleven at 7:05 AM on July 13


Yeah, I feel like there must be a corresponding Cake Fail Instagram where someone tried to copy all of these and came up with something like this.
posted by briank at 7:13 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Yeah. I was disappointed to discover, once my wife got deeply into making cakes, that the real secret of making a great-looking cake is just mad icing skillz.

After many forkfuls of fondant-heavy cake, I now have a true appreciation of good tasting, simple cake.

I have to imagine that these simpler cakes take much more skill than the crazy fondant-covered ones that are all over the internet.
posted by Phreesh at 7:36 AM on July 13


My problem is that I'm totally ham-fisted. I can make a really, really good cake (independent consumers assert) but it will always look...well, I refer to it as "rustic". I never even try with cakes that are supposed to look pretty.
posted by Frowner at 7:38 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


These look lovely, and I'd never heard of powdered food coloring before -- I would love to try making those macaron animals, but I'm sure my version would just be blobs.
posted by Mchelly at 7:40 AM on July 13


These look beautiful but I fear that my usual objection to fancy cakes will remain--I can still taste the damn food coloring, and that's just gross.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:51 AM on July 13


The other thing I'm thinking is "I could never make a beautiful chiffon cake penguin on a perfect chiffon checkerboard cake, but I bet I could make a chiffon cake with a couple of simple colored layers as long as I intended it to be irregular, or maybe a chiffon cake with a random pattern of colored dots".

I've definitely gotten good cake ideas from really skilled bakers, mostly by dumbing their work down a lot.

I bet that as long as they're pastels, you wouldn't taste the food coloring, especially if you used a little almond extract or similar.
posted by Frowner at 7:52 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


These are absolutely wonderful, and I would be thrilled to be presented with one on my birthday or any other occasion, and I am grateful for any efforts to break Big Fondant's tough, unpalatable blanket over the cake world.

I will forever be on Team Buttercream, though. Cake optional.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:56 AM on July 13 [13 favorites]


What kind of texture does chiffon cake have? Is it moist? They look kind of dry, but I can't tell if that's just the way they're photographed or what.
posted by Mouse Army at 8:16 AM on July 13


I will forever be on Team Buttercream, though. Cake optional.

I think buttercream frosting is a perfectly cromulent side dish!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:21 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


Not only are these beautiful and adorable, but I'm all for anything that will break the hold of fondant on the cake world. I hear there is supposed to be such a thing as good-tasting fondant but I have yet to encounter it. Fondant-using cake sculptors may as well be making wax statues filled with cake.
posted by ejs at 8:30 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


I hear there is supposed to be such a thing as good-tasting fondant but I have yet to encounter it.

I only use marshmallow fondant, which I think tastes great, if a bit over-sweet. I get lots of compliments, too--maybe because people were expecting the standard, not-so-tasty version.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:35 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


What kind of texture does chiffon cake have? Is it moist? They look kind of dry, but I can't tell if that's just the way they're photographed or what.

A chiffon cake is basically an angel food cake, but it incorporates fat, whereas an angel food cake doesn't. So it's a little richer, but basically just about as light. And people tend to flavor chiffon cakes more often than angel food.
posted by xingcat at 8:44 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Yeah the chiffon cakes that they have in the Korean bakeries near me are lovely and light without being dry - I love angel food cake but the fat makes a difference and I will gladly eat what is effectively a chiffon cake muffin without any other toppings.

what's most amazing to me here is that there's no caramelization. I can't do a light cake without getting lots of gold spots, and some of these are not shapes that could have been trimmed.
posted by brilliantine at 8:48 AM on July 13


My wedding cake, a two-parter with both fondant and naked sections, had honest-to-goodness delicious fondant to the point that I scouted everyone in my party who had peeled away the fondant (as one does) and put it to one side, and snapped it off their plates and ate it myself, while guiltily shouting "IT'S MY DAY" like a groomzilla. No regrets.

If you are within reach of Sweet and Saucy shop in Long Beach, I highly recommend.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 8:52 AM on July 13 [11 favorites]


These look beautiful but I fear that my usual objection to fancy cakes will remain--I can still taste the damn food coloring, and that's just gross.

I only watched 2 of her videos, but what I found most fascinating was her use of natural ingredients to make her food coloring, like lemon zest for lemon, a specific flower for blue, and strawberry puree for red. Of course that's how it used to be done, and I'm sure some people still do, but it was cool to see. I bet her cake tastes even better for it!
posted by barchan at 8:55 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


This is BEAUTIFUL. I could never eat any of these cakes, oh my gosh.

And I, too am firmly Team No Fondant. I wrote a bakery romance series in which I steadfastly refused to even mention the word. BUTTERCREAM 4EVA except on these lovely cakes. And except for a Victoria sponge. And maybe som...look. The point is, to hell with fondant.
posted by angeline at 9:00 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


A chiffon cake is basically an angel food cake, but it incorporates fat, whereas an angel food cake doesn't. So it's a little richer, but basically just about as light.

I grew up eating dry, boring Jewish Passover sponge cake* and it took me a long time to accept chiffon and angel food, but chiffon is right up there with pound cake as one of my favorites. Japanese soufflé cheese cake is also another spectacular variation (Recipe in video info.).

*Named for its taste, not its looks [probably fake]
posted by Room 641-A at 9:25 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Have always wanted to make the famous Brown Derby grapefruit cake. Too bad it's too dang hot to bake where I live right now.

Tangential: Cakespy! That's where she went. I miss her columns on Serious Eats.
posted by offalark at 9:37 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I especially love the new year's cakes.
posted by maryr at 9:39 AM on July 13


On the hearts cake, at least, all the color/flavors were natural, the only unusual one I saw (besides the blue pea flower, which is not an unusual ingredient in some Asian countries) was blueberry extract.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:42 AM on July 13


These are gorgeous. I haven't thought of chiffon cakes since I was little kid in the ... well..a few decades ago.
posted by kimberussell at 9:54 AM on July 13


what's most amazing to me here is that there's no caramelization. I can't do a light cake without getting lots of gold spots, and some of these are not shapes that could have been trimmed.

That is crazy, and it looks like that's how they come out of the oven
posted by karlshea at 10:50 AM on July 13


This is like high gloss porn. Entertaining to watch and rather athletic, but on my kitchen table, I'd rather have juicy drippy messy plum or apricot crumble cake from the 'amateur' genre...
posted by The Toad at 11:41 AM on July 13


So, watching the videos...it looks like the oven she puts the cakes in is a microwave? Or do ovens in Japanese kitchens just look like Western microwaves?
posted by cooker girl at 11:50 AM on July 13


Many microwaves in Japan also have convection oven functionality, cooker girl. Japanese kitchens often do not have a regular built-in oven.

I wish Japanese microwave technology would spread to the US. Also refrigerator technologies.
posted by that girl at 12:11 PM on July 13


So cute.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:34 PM on July 13


Oh cool! So I wonder how much of the eveness of the baking depends on the particular oven she's using.
posted by cooker girl at 12:48 PM on July 13


Is it possible the parchment paper is protecting the cake?
posted by Room 641-A at 1:20 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


*ponders what would happen if you dropped a heavy slab of tres leches cake on a cute, fluffy chiffon cake*
posted by loquacious at 1:32 PM on July 13


There's a lot of hand-wringing in the thread about not having icing on the outside but of course this is a solved problem...
posted by danny the boy at 1:51 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


We need to start some serious cake tech trade with Japan. The US obviously has a major deficit. Get Ambassador Caroline Kennedy on it.
posted by theora55 at 4:05 PM on July 13


Fondant is yucky, but buttercream and cream cheese frosting makes up for it.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:26 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Those are unbelievable. I love pandan cake, but even the shop bought ones barely get near that level of consistency.
posted by lucidium at 4:32 PM on July 13


Umm, so I'm not sure why you guys are talking about Japan, but she's Singaporean and AFAICT lives in Singapore. Most Singaporeans don't have built-in ovens, so use smaller countertop units instead (basically, huge toaster ovens). Quite a few are combination microwave and convection ovens too, like that girl mentioned.

The general preference for cakes over here tends towards the light and fluffy, and so chiffon cakes are really common and popular. Fondant has never been common nor popular till recently, probably due to the increasing popularity of shows like Cake Boss.
posted by destrius at 9:41 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


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