I can't be bothered to go to a Japanese supermart that sells Hokkaido milk. My Hokkaido cupcakes are made with milk which is – to quote what the carton says to the (capital) letter – "From AUSTRALIAN DAIRY COWS". So the milk's from Australia? Hell no. The cows are from Australia but they live in Indonesia. They probably moved from Down Under frozen . . . or maybe chilled. Anyone knows how sperm is transported long distance?
Hokkaido cupcakes are small chiffon cakes that are so soft they're creased and slightly collapsed after they cool down. Perhaps taking a cue from plastic surgery, the cakes are then injected with a filler/filling to plump up and smooth out the wrinkles. Unlike pillow-faced Madonna, Hokkaido cupcakes take to the puffy look quite well.
Whilst sifting through recipes for the cake part of Hokkaido cupcakes, I was quite tempted to try Nasi Lemak Lover's. But I finally decided her cupcakes, which had no hint of wrinkles or a sunken top, weren't as fluffy as they should be. I then looked at 周老師's recipe. I thought her cupcakes were too wrinkled and too sunken. Hmm . . . .
In the end, I went for something between the two popular recipes. How did I control how much the cakes sank? By changing the amount of milk and egg white in the batter. More egg white and milk make softer, more wrinkled cakes that sink when they cool down. Less would give you sturdier, less fluffy cakes.
Spongy and soft, the cakes are quite bland. It's the creamy filling that provides flavour and a luscious, unctuous texture.
The filling is a mix of custard and stiffly whipped cream. If you think making custard from scratch with 1.egg yolks and milk is too much trouble, there're three options:
1. You could use traditional custard powder, which must be heated on the stove with some milk.
2. You could also use instant custard powder which just needs to be mixed with hot water.
How about adding instant custard powder to stiffly whipped cream, as Nasi Lemak Lover does here?
You could do that, of course. I could too but I wouldn't.
Instant custard powder is a modified starch that thickens hot liquids. It doesn't thicken cold whipped cream, which doesn't need thickening anyway. You can also find milk protein, cream powder, sugar, artificial vanilla and artificial food colouring in instant custard powder. Do you want all these things in your whipped cream? I just add a bit of sugar and vanilla extract to mine, thank you very much.
3. If putting the kettle on is too much work, instant pudding powder would make you jump with joy. It doesn't require heating or anything hot. All it needs is cold milk to thicken into a pudding. To make Hokkaido cupcake filling, the pudding should be whisked with stiffly whipped cream before it's set.
Some bloggers, including 周老師, use instant pudding powder but they call it custard powder. If you follow their recipe, make sure you use the right stuff.
I opt for no custard/pudding, so my cupcakes are filled with only whipped cream. Cream is like shoes, you know? You could never have too much cream or too many shoes.
Good Hokkaido cupcakes should be lighter and fluffier than chiffon cakes and Ogura cakes but they're easy to make compared to the big brothers. You don't have to worry about the little ones sinking (a little bit).
Light and fluffy cakes that stand tall and proud can be a bit tricky. Light and fluffy cakes that are
If you've already mastered chiffon and Ogura cakes, I'd still recommend Hokkaido cupcakes because the little darlings are so pretty, especially when they look like they're wearing a red tutu.
I know what cake I'll be baking this Christmas. Come to think of it, I'm sure some red and white cupcakes on 9 August (Little Red Dot's National Day, for those who don't know) would be quite appropriate. And red is the colour for Chinese New Year, birthdays and weddings if you're into Chinese traditions. Yup, the liners' colour can make or break the cupcakes . . . . Oh dear, am I a cake geek?