Corner Café

August 26, 2012

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake 香草相思蛋糕

Filed under: Cakes & Cupcakes — SeaDragon @ 6:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake

Earlier this year, there was a rush among the Malaysian Chinese bloggers to make a copycat of a very popular signature cotton-soft cake from Malaysia. This particular cake comes from a bakery chain named Family Bakery 芳鄰西點蛋糕 in the town of Batu Pahat in Johor, a southern Malaysian state just north of Singapore. The cake is called Ogura Cake in English/Japanese but in Chinese it is known as 相思蛋糕 which literally translates as Pining4U or Lovesickness Cake. For whatever reasons they chose that name for the cake, it is indeed a very catchy name in Chinese for sure, but I expect it also cleverly carries the assumption that the customers would pine for this cake again and again after they tasted it…
Now it is a different story when it comes to its English/Japanese names. Ogura is a common Japanese surname, and it is also the name of the Japanese red bean paste/filling (小倉餡 / おぐらあん) but what has that got to do with lovesickness or pining for a distanced loved one, you may ask? If you are a Chinese reader, you can probably make the connection but will definitely not have a clue if you don’t know Chinese!

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake

Red bean carries the symbol of pining or lovesickness (as in 紅豆相思) especially in Chinese literatures and the red bean is also known as 相思豆 (translated as pining bean if you will). From what I have read, this cake was named in Chinese first, and the English/Japanese names were tagged on later for the benefits of the non-Chinese speaking customers. My guess is that since the current trend of making modern western-style cakes in East Asian countries comes primarily from Japan, and this is another version of Japanese-style cotton-soft cake, so 相思 (pining) relates to 紅豆 (red bean), and the Japanese red bean paste filling is known as 小倉 (Ogura), and voilà, we have got Ogura Cake! How’s that for my joining-the-dots reasoning? Not bad, eh, LOL. So don’t be fooled by the name Ogura in this modern Malaysian cake as there is not a speck of red bean inside this cake! To make things even more confusing, there are real Ogura Cakes (小倉ケーキ / 小倉蛋糕) in Japan which are red bean angel-food cakes! Therefore to avoid more confusion, I have adjusted the English name here to Ogura Love Cake, by adding the word love rather than lovesick which sounds more endearing, don’t you think?

The real Japanese Ogura Cake 小倉ケーキ

The real Japanese Ogura Cake 小倉ケーキ.

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake - texture

Now on to the cake itself, after reading through the copycat recipe that has been floating around online, it is very similar to Alex Goh’s Japanese Cotton Sponge Cake recipe except the butter has been replaced by a neutral flavoured cooking oil. I did a little adjustment by adapting both Alex’s recipe and the copycat recipe because I thought that copycat recipe has so little sugar in it that I was sure I would find it a bit too bland for my tastebuds and also added some custard powder to give the cake a bit more structure so it would not shrink as much. The result is really good, very spongy and cottony in texture. As I have never tasted the real thing, so I cannot do a comparison, and I suspect that copycat recipe would be even softer but structurally would be more unstable due to its low flour content, but I am really happy with my version and it does not need to be cooled upside down so you don’t need a loose-base square tin to bake it in.

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake - slight shrinkage

After cooling, the cake did shrink slightly.

Makes one 20cm cake

Cotton Sponge Cake:
85g cake flour
15g custard powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

55g canola oil
70g milk
5 egg yolks
1 whole egg
30g icing mixture (confectioners’ sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

5 egg whites
70g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 quantity mock cream
1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease and line a tall 20cm (at least 6cm tall) square cake tin. Get another tin that is slightly larger than the cake tin and fill it with hot water (be very careful when doing this, don’t burn yourself!) – place the cake tin inside the larger tin, and carefully fill the larger tin with hot water to come up about halfway up the sides of the cake tin; you need to press the cake tin down to measure the water level as it will float. Remove cake tin and set aside; place the larger tin with hot water into the preheating oven.
2. Sift cake flour, custard powder and salt 3 times and set aside. Mix oil, milk, egg yolks, whole egg, vanilla and icing sugar, and whisk well to combine. Sift the flour mixture, in about 3 to 4 batches, into the egg mixture and lightly whisk in well after each batch. Set aside.
3. With an electric beater, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks formed. Gradually add in caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until stiff peaks formed.
4. Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the flour mixture first, then repeat two more times with the remaining beaten egg whites.

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake - batter

5. Pour batter into the prepared cake tin. Tap the tin once on the bench top to get rid of any large air bubbles and place the cake tin inside the larger tin with hot water in the oven. Bake in this water-bath for about 1 hour, or until cooked when tested.

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake - just finished baking

6. Remove cake tin from the oven, give it another tap on the bench top then leave it for 5 minutes to cool down slightly. Carefully turn out onto a tray (or rack) lined with tea towel, discard lining paper then flip cake over to a cooling rack so it is right-side up and let cool completely.

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake - after cooling

7. Cut the cake horizontally into two halves, and sandwich with a thin layer of mock cream. Serve in slices.

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake - mock cream filling

Vanilla Ogura Love Cake - filled & trimmed

Taste: Soft, moist, cottony sponge cake
Consume: Best within 2-3 days
Storage: Store in airtight container in the refrigerator
Recipe Reference(s): 相思蛋糕


  1. very well done, must give this cake a try

    Comment by lily ng — August 27, 2012 @ 4:41 am | Reply

    • Lily,
      The Japanese cotton sponge is one of my favourites, you must give it a go. I am going to try a pandan version next time.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 1, 2012 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  2. Again, your cake looks so pretty! Tempting me to try baking that. This also looks good as a base or layer cake? 🙂

    Comment by Clara — August 27, 2012 @ 11:50 am | Reply

    • Thanks, but I don’t know about using it as a base because it is quite soft, might get squash if too much filling or frosting, LOL. But if you try it let us know how it turns out.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 1, 2012 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  3. Your cake looks really good. I have heard alot of this cake from malaysian bloggers, very curious of this cake. Will find time to try out the recipe after the mooncake festival. Think I will use butter (more fragrant iso oil). Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Jennifer — September 18, 2012 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  4. SeaDragon, this is the best sponge cake! We like sweet cake & patries; and I like to create homemade healthy food instead of buying–those are too oily and too sweet. I had tried a few different recipes online but none of them turned out good, usually too dense and too dry. This one turned out really good, moist and soft; we even ate it without the cream.

    Thank you!

    Comment by cherryapple — October 1, 2012 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

    • You are welcome. I love the texture of this cake too 🙂

      Comment by SeaDragon — October 4, 2012 @ 7:01 pm | Reply

  5. This cake is gorgeous! I baked it today, one of the best sponges I have ever made, and it was already wonderful eaten by itself without the cream. I tented it with aluminium halfway through because I was worried the top would burn and it came out perfect 🙂

    You mentioned that this isn’t the best one for a base – could you recommend one which is? Im still looking for my perfect base sponge for xmas baking.

    Comment by aliciashasha — December 19, 2012 @ 9:44 am | Reply

    • There are quite a few sponge recipes in my blog and also my old blog which you can use. For sponges that have very little or no fats/liquid, make sure you use a syrup to brush onto the sponge layer before you fill the sponge, this will keep the sponge moist.

      Comment by SeaDragon — December 23, 2012 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  6. Hi Seadragon, I tried this recipe today and it turned out great! I did a coffee flavour and omitted the custard powder. It only shrank slightly after turning out to cool. I tried the ‘copycat’ recipe and failed miserable(it rose too high, too fast and sank badly).I shall be attempting a pandan version soon. Thanks for the recipe!

    Comment by Angie — December 30, 2012 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  7. Hi SeaDragon, I tried this receipt twice. The first I baked with 140 C degree, the second is 130 C degree. However, both of them raised too high in oven then split, and sank after I removed it from the oven. The reason is, temperature was too high, isn’t it?

    Comment by Khanh Vy — January 21, 2013 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

    • Are you using fan-forced oven? Please read About the Recipes page in the sidebar before using my recipes.

      The other reason could be the egg whites, if your cake rised too high too fast, you might have over-beaten the egg whites, taht explained the splitting and the sinking. To be safe, try under-beating the egg whites next time, don’t beat it stiff, just under and see how you go with that.

      Comment by SeaDragon — January 21, 2013 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

  8. Can you give the American measurements for this cake please?

    Comment by Sahmad74 — January 26, 2013 @ 11:59 pm | Reply

    • I would suggest you use the weight measurement to make this cake, using volume measurement is not very accurate and failure is higher.

      Comment by SeaDragon — February 1, 2013 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  9. If I do not have custard powder, how much is total of cake flour I should to use?

    Comment by Khanh Vy — March 13, 2013 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

    • Don’t use cake flour. Instead substitute custard powder with wheaten corn flour or cornstarch.

      Comment by SeaDragon — March 13, 2013 @ 7:01 pm | Reply

  10. Aw, this was a very good post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a very good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a
    lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

    Comment by — July 27, 2013 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  11. Dear Seadragon
    I am sure I have whipped the egg white to stiff form i.e. it did not move when overturned. My oven is quite hot so I initially baked the cake with 130 degrees then the cake started creaking (I was not in the kitchen so when I saw the cracks it was already too late, I then turned it down to 120) 50 minutes later the cake was done but it deflated within 5-10 minutes after out of the oven to half of its original height. Any suggestions why this may be? It is quite cold here in London not sure if it makes a big difference? Many thanks

    Comment by ConnieT — May 9, 2014 @ 8:20 pm | Reply

    • Hmm, first of all, when you said your oven is quite hot, do you mean your oven temperature is not accurate as shown on the oven? Did you used fan in your oven? When this type of cake starts cracking before it is done, it does mean the oven temperature is too high. The high temp. baked the outside too quickly, while the inside is not cooked and still trying to rise, so forcing the baked crust to crack to allow the cake to rise further.
      I have to emphasize that this cake does deflate quite a bit after baking because it is like a chiffon cake. How was the taste? One other thing is are you sure you did not over-beat the egg whites? Over-beating may also contribute to the deflation. If it is cold in the kitchen, maybe after baking turn off the oven, open the oven door but leave the cake inside for a while before taking it out, so it does not have an extreme temperature change and cool too quickly.
      Did you use eggs from the fridge, or room-temperature eggs?

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 9, 2014 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

      • Thank you so much for your swift reply^_^ I used eggs from the fridge but leave at room temperature for half an hour, I can’t tell if I have overbeaten the egg white or not*~*the instruction for the aluminium pan I used did say cooking temperature needs to be reduced by 10-15 degrees. I will try to beat the egg white to firm peak, hope it makes a difference. Do you think if inverting the cake will help too?

        Comment by ConnieT — May 9, 2014 @ 9:56 pm | Reply

        • Ah, OK, in cold weather half an hour is not enough to bring the eggs back to room temperature. In winter, I usually leave eggs out in the pantry, so I can use them straight away without waiting. If you are keeping eggs in the fridge, take them out the day before if you are using them to make cake.
          I also think the cake tin may also contributed to the cake cracking. Is your tin dark in colour? Black-coloured tin absorbs heat more than light-coloured cake tin. I never use dark/black coloured cake tin, they never work for me, the cake always over-baked on the outside before the inside is cooked.
          Finally, yes, inverting the cake will help, but you cannot grease or line the cake tin, so you need to use a spring-form type tin where the base can be removed to take the cake out. Most Ogura Cake recipes asked for the cake to be inverted, the reason I tested and wrote this recipe was so my version of this cake does not need to be inverted to cool.

          Comment by SeaDragon — May 10, 2014 @ 11:22 am | Reply

          • Dear Seadragon
            I just finished baking the cake, can’t wait to tell you that this time, is a success! Yay! It still shrinks but much better than my previous 5 attempts( I used the “copycat” recipe four times and decided to give your recipe a go, glad I did that , other wise I would still feel like a failure >_<) thanks for your advice!

            Comment by ConnieT — May 11, 2014 @ 5:36 am | Reply

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