Charcoal Cake (竹碳蛋糕)

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Black is mysterious. Black is sophisticated. Black is . . . sexy.

What makes my cake black? It's bamboo charcoal that's been pulverized into a very, very fine powder.

You can see what my charcoal cake looks like but you can't taste it. Let me taste it for you.

Chomp, chomp, chomp . . . .

Hey, charcoal cake tastes like regular cake! It's just like vanilla cake except for the colour.

Chomp, chomp . . . zzzzz . . . .

Did you know charcoal powder makes you sleepy?

I didn't the first time I ate charcoal cake. I had a (small) piece late in the afternoon, then another (small) piece after dinner. That night, I struggled to stay awake after 10 pm and had to crawl into bed an hour later. I don't usually retire till well after midnight.

Besides treating insomnia, charcoal powder is a good antidote. It inactivates poisons by binding with the toxins.

Did you hear about the woman who, after taking some poison to kill herself, decided to eat some charcoal cake?

Said woman figured she could eat all the cake she wanted since she was about to die. So she ate and ate and ate . . . not realizing she was eating an antidote to the poison.

Guess what? Yup, she didn't die because she ate too much cake. The moral of the story is: Good things happen to those who eat lots of cake.

OK, I just totally made that up. If you were poisoned, you'd need loads of charcoal powder, loads more than there would be in a cake or two.

Treating a gassy stomach, OTOH, doesn't need much. Inhale a big slice of charcoal cake and the excess gas in your tummy would be gone. Isn't that nice? You can still eat cake when your tummy feels bloated!

If you've just had a French manicure, remember to wear gloves when you're handling charcoal powder. OTOH, if your black varnish is peeling around the edges, you could rub some charcoal powder on your nails.

Run out of eyeliner? Hey, what do you think Cleopatra used? Maybe not bamboo charcoal but it was definitely charcoal of some sort around her eyes, on her brows, and as a teeth whitener.

Charcoal powder has so many uses. Isn't it wonderful?

Baking good charcoal cake is easy when you have my tried and tested recipe. Frosting the cake isn't difficult either. Remember less is more or the cake's unusual colour wouldn't stand out. A few blackberries or black raspberries would add a nice accent. Anything else would spoil the minimalist look . . . .

Hey, I just had a brainwave! I'm gonna serve charcoal cake at my funeral . . . well, I won't be there . . . I mean I will be there but . . . . I guess I'll have to leave instructions. There must be a cake for every important occasion, right?

(Makes one 20 x 12 cm cake)

1 tsp bamboo charcoal powder
email KT at if you want to buy bamboo charcoal powder
45 g full-fat milk
add to charcoal powder; stir thoroughly
10 g castor sugar
45 g egg yolks
35 g corn oil, plus extra for greasing
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
45 g cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/16 tsp salt

105 g egg whites
1/16 tsp cream of tartar
35 g castor sugar

150 g whipped cream

Trim 5 mm thick corrugated cardboard to fit sides of 23 x 15 cm cake pan. Wrap each piece of cardboard in aluminium foil, shining side facing out. 

Line bottom of 20 x 12 x 7.5 cm cake pan with 2 layers of parchment paper. Lightly grease top layer with oil.

Preheat oven to 160°C. Measure and prep ingredients as detailed above.

Whisk 10 g castor sugar with egg yolks till dissolved. Add corn oil. Whisk till just combined. Add charcoal milk and vanilla extract. Whisk till just thoroughly mixed. Sift cake flour and baking powder into mixture. Add salt. Whisk till just thoroughly mixed.

Separately whisk egg whites till frothy. Add cream of tartar. Whisk till thick foam forms. Gradually add 35 g castor sugar whilst still whisking. Continue to whisk till firm peak stage.

Thoroughly whisk yolk mixture, scraping bottom of bowl. Add half of egg whites. Mix with whisk till almost even. Add remaining egg whites. Mix with whisk till almost even. Scrape down and fold with spatula till just evenly mixed, banging mixing bowl against worktop 2-3 times.

Pour batter into 20 x 12 x 7.5 cm cake pan, slowly and from about 30 cm high. Jiggle pan and tap lightly against worktop till batter is level. Place in bigger cake pan. Tuck cardboard between 2 pans. Bake in bottom of oven till cake doesn't make squishing sound when gently pressed around the middle, 50-55 minutes.

Remove pans from oven. Set aside outer pan and cardboard. Drop pan holding cake from about 30 cm high, twice. Invert pan onto wire rack. Leave till just cool. As soon as cake is cool, slide knife along sides of pan. Unmould cake. Remove parchment paper.

To frost cake, slice cake horizontally into 3 equal pieces. Invert what was top of cake so that cut side faces up. Spread evenly with whipped cream, about 2 mm thick. Top with what was middle of cake. Spread whipped cream as before. Place what was bottom of cake on cream, cut side down. Spread whipped cream as before. Chill till cream is firm. Trim 1 cm from edges. (Trimmings are, of course, perfectly edible.) Refrigerate till ready to serve.


LadyTaraaa said...

J'adore cette idée :) ! Bon, je ne suis pas certaine de trouver les ingrédients nécessaires en France mais bon... Merci beaucoup !

Jasmine Riccardi said...

very clever tiger. As soon as i get the bamboo powder, i'm going to give it a try. For sure it looks elegant.

Suki said...

Wow! I'm so impressed! Will you mail the powder internationally?

EmperorMolang said...

Another great recipe. Just wanna say that you really seemed to put some hard work into editing and included a whole lot more tips than usual in this video. Thanks for the hard work KT!

jesslyn leow said...

I didnt know charcoal powder will make us sleep, then I shd eat at since I have sleeping prob sometimes lol. and hahahaha on the antidote, you are so humor. the cake looks so neat and soft, very pretty done.

bakincat said...

what do you mean by "singaporean"?

KT said...

For international shipping by airmail, the price for 18 g is:

S$6.00 – Malaysia and Brunei
S$6.50 – Asia-Pacific excluding Australia, NZ and Japan
S$7.00 – others

You'll have to pay to my Paypal account in Singapore dollars.

Susy said...

Will this dye your teeth black or grey? It's so cool looking, i'm so intrigued! :)

KT said...

Charcoal is not like squid ink. The colour stays in the cake. (Some of the cake may decide to stick to your teeth but that's a different matter altogether.)

Angel said...

No choice when she is constantly bombarded from ignorant people coming up with silly questions :P

SAHM said...

Can I know where u bought the hand whisk?

Susan said...

I hate weighting eggs(how many eggs=60 g?)

jessica said...

Hi KT, I tried few of your recipes, all are very nice and thanks so much for the video, it really helps as I follow all your steps and it works well and the cakes are nice.but for the chiffon cake...I bake 2 times and they crack very seriously after bake for 10 mins.1st time I used I thought it is too hot ...2nd baking I used only 150c.. also crack a lot... :( do u know what is the reason?? But the texture of cake was very nice..I just cut away the crack part as it is hard...

jessica said...

Between,I like your hand mixer a lot.may I know what is the brand of your hand mixer and where can I buy it?? Thanks!!

KT said...

Aren't you embarrassed? I guess not. I guess you have no idea why you should be embarrassed.

Ann said...

Suddenly feel like crying when you mentioned your funeral. What a crybaby I am, right ?

jessica said...

"I shd be the one asking u this, aren't u embarrassed by ur own sarcastic attitude towards answering qns?"I guess not...

KT said...

You are right; I am absolutely embarrassed. There are more mistakes in your writing than cells in your brain but I have no right to expect you to write in decent English, on my blog, as a courtesy to me and my readers.

And I shouldn't expect you to follow my recipe even though you say you followed my recipe. It was so clever of you to bake your cakes at 170C and 150C even though my recipe says 180C, in an oven that's been preheated to 200C. And you have every right to ask me what went wrong with your cake even though you didn't follow my recipe.

Where do you live? I'll come and put my hand in your oven. I'll roast it for five minutes, then I'll be able to tell you whether your oven is too hot. My hand will be burnt but I don't mind using it as a human thermometer, because I am so goddamn embarrassed by my sarcasm.

Nicco said...

Hi...KT. I only have 25cm chiffon tin. Should I reduce the baking time. Thank you. From: Nicco

KT said...

Hi Nicco, double the ingredients and bake the cake 5-10 minutes longer, testing as detailed in the recipe.

Ashley said...

Hi KT,
Do the eggs have to be room temperature?

Lim Mun Kit said...

Hi, why do you need to bake the cake inside another cake tin? Can this step be omitted?

Mun Kit

KT said...

Yes, Ashley. Cheers.

Jackie said...

Hi KT, can I replace the orange juice with something else to make it a plain cake? Thanks!

Joy said...

Tried all your chiffon recipes and was always a success ! More flavours please ! ...... Chocolate , coffee , earl grey tea ..

qh said...

I realised that the baking time and preheat for OCC and PCC is different. Is there a reason?

Linda said...

This is to prevent the cake from getting a 'dome' after baking.

Joanne Chua said...

HI KT!! I've finally bought myself a 21cm chiffon pan! Yeah! (I LOVE chiffons and can't believe I took so long to get one!) Tremendous texture and taste. Love it! Ok now, I hv a problem. The cake spilt. Is it because I over beat the whites or the temp is too high? Any advice?

Colty said...

Hi! I love your videos. I was just wondering what is the size of your bigger pan (the one that you put the smaller baking pan in?)

dianne said...

can you convert your recipe into cups?! and can you also make a plain chiffon cake!?

Valérie Francois said...

La poudre de charbon végétal activé se trouve communément en France (charbon actif je crois pour lutter contre les ballonnements et réaliser des lavages d'estomac comme l'explique KT), cependant, je n'en ferais pas un cake personnellement.
En revanche, on peut utiliser de la pâte de sésame noire que l'on peut acheter en épicerie fine, asiatique ou en magasin bio.
ou bien des graines de sésame noir à broyer. Le goût est proche de la noisette grillée. Délicieux.

Charcoal powder is available in France called "Charbon végétal activé" in chemist's. It used against bulging and bloating or for gastric lavage, as explained KT.
However, you can also use some black sesame pastry or black sesame sauce available in Chinese shops:
or some black sesame seeds and you use a mortar for grinding them.
The taste is like toasted hazelnuts.

Kelly said...

Hi KT, why do we need to use full-fat milk? will there a different result if we use low-fat milk? Thanks

Michee Mo said...

how much will be total cost to Texas?

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