Monday, February 18, 2013

Mocha Xiang Si (Ogura) Cake

Since September and late last year, there is a trend among most Malaysian and Singaporean food bloggers to bake this exquisite cake called Xiang Si Cake (相思蛋糕), otherwise also known as Ogura cake. Prior to all these Ogura cake baking, I have never hear and taste this cake before. According to Sonia from Nasi Lemak Lover, the real Xiang Si cake can be found at Batu Pahat, Malaysia and why is the cake called Ogura?

Ogura in Japanese language can be a name or has a meaning of small storehouse or red bean paste. Most often in Chinese culture, we like to associate red beans with love and would literally translate the meaning of Ogura to 相思 which means love sick in Chinese language. Although having a Japanese name, this cake is not Japanese originated at all. It is simply called Ogura or Xiang Si meaning that everyone will be lovestruck after tasting this cake.

With this catchy name, even I got into the craze baking this cake... Typically, Xiang Si cake has a chiffon-like cottony texture but short with a flat cake top. It is quite a tacky cake to bake, archiving the right techniques for its most ideal look.

Not surprisingly at all, the first Xiang Si cake that I baked was totally disastrous! It was badly cracked on its top and soggy inside. I had lots of strange mixed feeling after experiencing this failure... Is it my curiosity, pride or disappointment? Or am I lovestruck or what? I just don't why I am pursuing to bake this cake so much?

With more thoughts and less sleep, I finally managed to bake my Xiang Si cake... And these are what I did for my second bake:

One: To avoid cracked top, baking the cake with an oven with the right setting is important. Like what Sonia from Nasi Lemak Lover always says "You have to understand your oven..." Now, I can clearly understand... LOL! My oven is a fan forced oven and seems that 130°C fan forced is the best temperature setting for my Xiang Si cake baking. To avoid too much initial heat while baking, I have covered my cake loosely with a foil (pierced with holes) at its first 40 minutes of baking.

Two: Most bloggers prefer to bake this cake with steam bake which is basically baking with boiling water. For my first bake, I didn't boil my water prior preheating the oven with the tray of water and reckon this affects the overall oven temperature resulting my cake to be soggy and uncooked in the middle. My lesson learned: use boiling water if I'm going to steam bake my Xiang Si cake.

Three: To prevent excessive Xiang Si cake rising, beating egg white to the right stage for this cake is very important. According to most bloggers including Sonia from Nasi Lemak Lover, the egg white is only required to beat to soft peaks. To further tackle this problem, I have used the same technique that I did baking my Japanese Honey Castella Cake which is to pour my cake batter through a sieve into a cake pan. This simple test will ensure and determine if your egg white in your cake batter has been over-beaten or not. If your cake batter can't pass through your sieve, this means that you have over-beaten your egg white...

Update on 1 May 2013: Please check my Vanilla Xiang Si Cake post for my improved Xiang Si cake baking. As advised by Sonia, Nasi Lemak Lover, the egg whites should be beaten to near stiff peaks, not soft peaks. 

Finally... my Xiang Si cake
These are things to prepare...
Making the cake...
Baking the cake...
Invert my cake onto a cake rack to cool completely
A little sweet and salty with nice coffee fragrance: a perfect way to enjoy nice cottony texture of this cake.

Here's my adapted recipe (which half amount of the recipe used by most Asian bloggers including Sonia from Nasi Lemak Lover, Minty from Minty's Kitchen and Min from Min's Blog)

For 14cm square tin

5g decaf instant coffee and 5g cocoa powder mixed 20ml of hot milk
25ml rice bran oil
20ml milk
¼ tsp salt
2 ½ egg yolk
½ whole egg
35g cake flour

2 ½ egg white
35g caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Line baking sheet at the bottom of an un-greased 14 cm square pan and preheat the oven to 130°C fan forced with a tray of boiling water on the most bottom rack.

For A:
Whisk corn oil, milk, coffee mixture, salt, egg yolk and whole egg until frothy.

Sift in flour and mix well, put aside.

For B:
Using electric mixer, beat egg white with tartar powder and castor sugar till soft peak.

Using a spoon, mix mixture A and B together until well combined. Press with a spatula to help batter go through a sieve. Tap pan lightly to remove air bubbles. Using a spatula, smoothen the top of batter to remove any remaining bubbles.

Cover the pan loosely with foil with holes and bake at 130°C fan forced for 40 mins. Remove foil and bake for another 20 mins or until cake tester comes out to be completely clean.

Invert pan onto a cake rack and allow it to cool completely.

Please note that this cake has a little bittersweet taste and please do not reduce the amount of sugar added into this cake.

Happy Baking
Please support me and like me at Facebook...

Being away from home (Singapore), this is where and how we celebrate our Chinese New Year. We were at Lorne, a seaside town along Great Ocean Road at Victoria, Australia with blue sky, fine sand and crystal clear water... Enjoy the scenes of our "Chinese New Year" celebration! 

A view of Lorne and the "tiny" Lorne pier
Here's my son enjoying the sun, the sand and the sea.


  1. Great tip about putting egg white through a sieve. This cake sounds very intriguing but not sure if we get rice bran oil here.

  2. Very delicious looking cake! I like the added coffee.

  3. This is a challenging cake to bake, right. And I have yet to make the move because I know I will have to make this more than once or twice ....or even to five to achive success. least you done it and looking so soft and fluffy.

  4. Good morning, Zoe! I don't dare to bake Xiang Si cake so far because I'll surely fail on my first few bakes and if can, I'll wait until I go back to Malaysia next time to ask Sonia to demonstrate to me, hahaha! Thanks for the good tips, esp the last one which requires the cake mixture to be sifted, never thought that b4, very clever of you!

    In regard of the Little Thumbs Up, I feel so bad again to ask you to postpone, looks like I'm a rule breaker, haha! I've got my recipes written and photos were edited but since I have told my other friends that I won't update my blog until tomorrow, I would like to keep my words. Big thank you to you for doing this to me & I guarantee that my recipe will be posted tomorrow morning.

    In regard of the moulds, don't worry about it. If I can get it in Sydney, I will get them, if not, never mind. I have a simple heart-shaped cookie mould which I bought from Daiso and I think it works as well. Thanks!

    1. No worries, Jessie! Glad that you made it... I really appreciate your participation and happy too to help. Cheers!

  5. I failed in my maiden attempt too and have yet to pluck up enough courage to try again! Methods for this cake is similar to chiffon cake and yet, it is so different!

    1. Totally agree with you, Jeannie. I think knowing your oven is very important for this cake.

  6. Nice & yummy!
    u make me xiang si (miss)the cake :)

  7. This cake looks delicious! I love mocha flavored things. Thanks for posting. =)

  8. Hi Zoe, I have been to Lorne before... its a gorgeous place! So much science to this cake... thanks for sharing all your tips so that I will know what to do when I get down to making this type of cake.

  9. Hi! Zoe,
    Your ogua cake is beautiful. This ogura cake remind me i have quite long did not bake one.
    I am 相思了!

  10. Hi Zoe,

    This is a lovely Xiang Si (相思) cake.
    Well Done :)

    My family and i love coffee flavour very much. Especially you mention that it has the bittersweet taste...LOVE IT!!

  11. I've never seen this cake before, but it does look lovely! That looks like a wonderful place for a holiday. :)

  12. Oh how do you manage to bake and to take such good and helpful pictures of the process? :) you are real insporation! :)

  13. Hi Zoe!
    Your cake looks really pretty and it sounds really delicious! I can never resist the combination of coffee and chocolate. Thanks for all the tips, hope to try this cake out soon!

  14. Hi Zoe,
    I have not tried baking this before, and have been thinking of baking this too. I'm waiting for the right mood to bake this "leceh" cake! LOL! Yours looks perfectly done, I love mocha flavours!

  15. Omg!I "xiang si" this cake again! I made Pandan Xiang si cake once before and love it very much. Yours look perfect and yummy !
    I will serve your son with many of "Corn" dishes in April, please ask him to wait for Aunty Esther ya :)

  16. Seems new to me... the name and the cake.... i must say you did some outstanding baking in here

  17. I didn't have enough time to bake any cake during CNY. Yours looked so fluffy and good.

  18. This looks really nice - I love the colour of it, I can imagine it being really rich and tasty! Happy chinese new year! Love the pictures of the beach, makes me feel Like I'm not shivering in minus temperatures this morning!

  19. Very nice Zoe, good tat u persevered and got it rite! Sounds like a nice n light coffee cake for a lazy afternoon.

  20. Zoe, great tip about that sieve trick ! Almost all the time , I've overbeaten my whites :P You know what , your fantastic xiang si ogura cake looks a bit like , the texture , that is , Rose Beranbaum's coffee chiffonlets that I've baked few days ago ! Though , as usual , after about 5 minutes , my chiffon which I baked in cupcake liners , deflates about 1/2-inch :D I think overbeaten whites is the culprit :P

  21. HI Zoe! Nicely baked cake... Oooo.. and the kopi-tiam coffee cup... nice!

    You are right about the water bath method... once I forgot about it and added cold water from tap for water bath to bake the bread and butter pudding... the pudding was soggy like what you described...

    Nice seaside... We took the great ocean road in 2007 and absolutely loved the scenery!

  22. What a wonderfully delicious cake my friend :D
    It seems very precise in recipe!

    Choc Chip Uru

  23. Hello Zoe,

    What a gorgeous looking cake! Makes me want to go into the kitchen and whip one up now. :D

  24. Thank you for sharing this! I am trying to learn more Asian recipes, and I look forward to making this!

  25. I love that you don't quit after a failed attempt.

  26. Hi Zoe! Your cake looks great!

    I wanted to let you know that you were drawn for my latte giveaway!! The e-gift card can be used in Australia, so says Starbucks! If you would like your gift card, I'll need the email address you would like your gift card to be sent. My email address is linked up in my post:

    Have a wonderful day!!

  27. What a tasty looking cake! Love the beach photos!

  28. wow they look amazing! Looks really moist without being too rich. Your kids really are such lucky kids!

  29. Wow! This cake sounds tricky but looks so appetizing! Love the coffee flavor! I've never tried this cake before but have seen it a couple of times at some blogs. Never have thought that it's so difficult to make this cake; Thanks for sharing the tips . I don't even dare to bake Japanese cheesecake, just imagine that! LOL

    1. Hi Kit,

      We are cotton soft cheesecake for our bake-along in June. Wanna join the challenge? I have baked Japanese Cheesecake prior my blogging days but still a little scare baking this for this bake-along theme. With all your baking experiences, I think you will be ok.


  30. This looks wonderful! Your photos are super nice too. I love the beautiful ocean photos. It remind me of trip our family took in 1997 -that seems long ago. It's about time to go back, right?

  31. i have also wanted to bake an ogura cake. Initially the passionfruits that i used for the souffle were actually meant for the ogura cake, thanks for sharing all the tips here, i didnt know that it's a complicated one!

  32. Zoe , so sorry , I read this post earlier but I was busy at that time as I was thinking to tell you that you have to beat egg white till stiff peak or close to stiff but not soft peak . I did mentioned stiff but not soft peak in my ogura cake post. This is because this cake pan used don't have a tube or insert at the middle to support cake rise, so you need more air and strong meringue to let cake rise.
    And checking your temperature use at 130c through out the whole baking , I would like to suggest you to increase temp to 150c or 160c after 30 mins bake at 130c. Because you need high temp at later part to cook the cake ..just my little suggestion from my experience of making chiffon using a non tube chiffon pan..hope this helps.

    1. Hi Sonia,

      Thanks for your advice. I'm tempted to bake Xiangsi again after seeing Phong Hong and Jeannie's successful attempts. This time, I will remember to beat my egg white to near stiff peaks :D