Apparently, this is the hottest cake in Taiwan this year. Following on the trends of craze over Japanese inspired sweet snacks like the Cookie-Crust Cream Puffs (波蘿泡芙), Cream-Centre Chilled Rice Cakes (雪莓娘), Dorayaki (銅鑼燒), 65°C Tang Zhong Breads and Buns (65°C湯種麵包) in the past ten years, everyone, it seems, is queuing up in front of pastry shops in Taiwan to have a taste of this chiffon cupcake filled with a creamy custard filling.
I am not sure if these cupcakes are truly from Hokkaido, Japan, since they are just chiffon cakes with filling but it is the name for these cupcakes. More likely it is because Hokkaido milk or cream is used in making the cakes and the custard filling. If I am not mistaken, the most popular are those made by a pastry shop called Jun Mei (均鎂) in Taiwan. As its popularity increased, many other pastry shops began producing their own versions of this cupcake and also called them by another name, Hokkaido Chiffon Cream Puffs (北海道蛋糕泡芙), as they are filled with cream just like choux-pastry cream puffs except that the pastry here are chiffon cakes.
These are the original Jun Mei’s Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes. Photo courtesy of udn.com.
The cupcake is nothing particularly interesting to look at in appearance, it is sometimes wrinkly, uneven, even has cracks on the surface and has a hole in the centre from piping the filling, and looks like the ugly duckling of the cake world. This is quite surprising as Taiwanese and Japanese are very particular about the look of their sweets; invariably they are always perfect in appearance and colour. However these cupcakes have, despite their uneven appearances, become the most sought after cakes in Taiwan this year.
These chiffon cakes are usually baked individually in stiff paper cups because they tend to shrink after cooling due to the low flour content in the cake ingredients. As it is almost impossible to buy these stiff paper cups here, I experimented with some using the normal thin muffin paper cases baked in Texas muffin tin, and also some in ceramic ramekins. The ramekin ones came out looking better as the solid ramekins helped in holding the cakes together from shrinkage. The ones baked in the thin paper cases came out looking shrivel as they cooled due to the shrinkage of the soft cakes. Next time, I will just use the ramekins to bake these. These cupcakes are eaten straight from the cups using spoons, so it does not really matter as they do not need to be turned out from the ramekins for serving.
Cottee’s Instant Pudding (Vanilla Flavoured)
I also tried two different types of filling; instant custard and crème chantilly. The custard ones tasted better. As I didn’t prepare myself earlier by making my own pastry cream, I used packaged instant pudding mix which turned out a bit softer than I preferred, but they still tasted good. Next time I should make my own pastry cream filling for these cupcakes.
Makes approx. 8 large cupcakes
4 egg yolks
30g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
40ml canola oil
55g cake flour
20g custard powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
80g caster sugar
100g-packet Cottee’s Instant Pudding (Vanilla Flavoured)
700ml cold milk
Make the custard according to instructions on the package.
1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Prepare about 8 one-cup-capacity ramekins or dariole moulds; use Texas muffin tin if you do not have individual ramekins or dariole moulds. If you are using Texas muffin tin, line with paper cases. Sift cake flour, custard powder and baking powder three times and set aside.
2. Beat egg yolks and 30g sugar briefly to combine, add vanilla, milk and oil, beat well to combine. Sift flour mixture in a few batches into the yolk mixture and lightly fold in to combine.
3. Whisk egg whites and salt until foamy. Gradually add 80g sugar, spoonful by spoonful, and continue beating. Beat until soft peaks.
Soft peaks stage.
4. Scoop 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture and fold in with the balloon whisk. Repeat two more times with the remaining egg white mixture.
The Hokkaido chiffon cake batter.
5. Divide batter into the ramekins or dariole moulds, filling to about 70-80% full.
6. Give each ramekin or dariole mould a light tap on the kitchen bench to get rid of any large bubbles in the batter; do the same if using muffin tin.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes for muffin tin or metal dariole moulds, or 25-30 minutes for ceramic ramekins, until cooked. Remove from oven and tap again. Let cool (no need to cool upside down).
The cupcakes rised to the top and puffed up in the oven.
8. When the cupcakes are cold, use the nozzle of the piping bag to poke a hole on each cupcake and pipe in custard. Stop piping as soon as you see custard oozing out from the hole. Serve straight from the cup with a spoon.
These cupcakes baked in thin paper cases shrank at lot after cooling.
These cupcakes baked in ramekins held together better sticking to the sides of the ramekins and preventing them from too much shrinkage. The top one in the picture did not crack as much on the surface because it was baked on the bottom shelf with the tray of Texas muffin tin on the shelf above it, so the heat from the top was blocked by the tray.
Taste: Light and soft cupcake with a delicious custard filling
Consume: Best served cold
Storage: Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days
Recipe Reference(s): ‘北海道戚風蛋糕’ recipe by 陳明裡 老師