Thursday, July 27, 2017

Taiwanese Cheese Cake / Gochabi Cheese Sponge Cake 台湾古早味芝士蛋糕

Soft. Spongy. Tender. A little sweet, salty and cheesy... I felt a zing instantly when I had my first bite of this Taiwanese cheese sponge cake. It was so surprisingly delicious!!!

Not surprisingly, it wasn't just me that had the zing... My son and husband had the same zing when they ate this cake.

"I must bring this interesting cake for my colleagues to try." said my husband while experiencing with the zing zing feeling but the cake was so good that we had only three leftover slices to spare.

I bet that my husband's colleagues must have felt the same zing when they had the cake because I was told that one of them want to buy the cake from me!!! LOL!

Days later, I happened to be at my husband's workplace. When his boss saw me, he came to me immediately and asked...

"What is the delicious THING that you gave us?"

"It's Taiwanese cheese sponge cake. It is one of trendy cakes to bake at the Asian social media. It is basically a sponge cake sandwiched with a layer of plastic cheese! That's it! It is really plain and simple." I replied. Plastic cheese??? We always say that the Kraft individually packed singles cheese slices are plastic cheese because they really look and feel like plastic! LOL!

"Oh! It is simple yet so yummy. I will ask my daughter to bake the cake for me."

"This cake is actually quite tricky to bake but no worries! I will give you the recipe."

Hey Nick! This recipe is for you...

Taiwanese gochabi cheese old school sponge cake
Taiwanese Gochabi Cheese Sponge Cake 台湾古早味芝士蛋糕

Honestly, I have not tasted the real Taiwanese Gochabi sponge cake (台湾古早味芝士蛋糕) before and have only seen them at here, here and many from Facebook.

Based on what I have read, the original Taiwanese old school sponge cake come from Danshui, Taipei and they are available now in Singapore and Malaysia. According to Alan from Travelling Foodies, the original Taiwanese old school sponge cake has a smooth almost flawless glossy surface with well-distributed tiny specks of powdered cheese on it. It looks irresistibly delicious with its cheese filling oozing out from the sides.

This is how Alan describes the taste and texture of the cake... "The shop describes their cake as being full of 古早味, and rightfully so. The taste and texture reminds us much of very old school sponge cake, somewhat springy and firm, with quite a bit of bite. Not the cottony and soft Japanese-influenced sponge cakes which most of us are accustomed to eating nowadays. The “original” flavour ones were already sold out for the day when we reached, so we had the cheese-flavoured one. Apart from the two layers of “golden cheese” filling, the cake body was also added with cream cheese as well I think. I like the intermingling of savory cheeziness amidst the sweetness of the cake. That helped to balance out things a bit. The cake body itself was not too sweet, with a strong hint of eggs."

To be precise, I can't say that my cake is the exact replicate of the original Taiwanese old school cheesy sponge cake because...

- My cake doesn't have two layers of “golden cheese” filling. It has only one layer of cheese and it is not orangey-golden because all the Kraft singles cheeses in Australia are pale creamy colour. The similar type of cheese that is orangey colour at Coles is actually smoke-flavoured and it is not suitable to use for baking cakes!

- My cake has no tiny specks of powdered cheese sprinkled on the cake because I forgot to buy cheese powder before I baked the cake! Ops!

- Due to steam-baking, the top surface of my cake is not thickly baked and deep golden brown like the original cake.

- Taste-wise, my cake is not exactly springy and firm according to Alan's description as it is rather cottony soft and tender.

Despite these differences, I must say that my version of Taiwanese old school cheesy sponge cake is a little somehow like the original Taiwanese old school cheesy sponge cake because...

- My cake has no crack! Yay!!!

- My cake has added cream cheese.

- It is little sweet with a balanced salty taste. Although it has a strong hint of eggs when it is freshly baked, the eggy smell somehow strangely disappeared when the cake is completely cooled.

For some reason, I reckon that it is actually a "blessing in disguise" that I didn't sprinkle the top of my cake with the powdered Parmesan cheese because the use of the sharp-smelling Parmesan cheese might be a little over powering for my liking. No right or wrong... It's just my personal preference.

Whether this cake is more or less like the original Taiwanese old school sponge cake, I actually LIKE this cake... just like the way how I baked it. I was having the cloud nine zing zing feeling when I ate it. And, I know that my family (plus my husband's colleagues) like it too. Do you?

Taiwanese gochabi cheese old school sponge cake
No cracks! Yay!
Taiwanese gochabi cheese old school sponge cake
Wow! The cake is so soft and tender that I can't even slice it properly!!!
Taiwanese gochabi cheese old school sponge cake
Here's the cheese! It's not orangey colour and so it doesn't stand out from the cake body.
Taiwanese gochabi cheese old school sponge cake
Simple yet so surprisingly yummy!!!

Here's the video showing how I baked this cake.

Here are the important tips if you wish to bake the cake exactly the way how I baked it.

1. Please do not use fan forced oven because the heating from fan forced oven is too strong to bake this cottony soft cake.

2. This cake need to be steam-baked and baked very slowly with low oven temperature. Otherwise, it might rise too rapidly resulting the cake to be drier and firmer... or probably like the original Taiwanese old school sponge cake? For me, I prefer the cake to be soft and tender.

3. Please use the exact weight of the ingredients. No agak agak (meaning estimation in Malay)!!!

4. Please use baking pan with NO non-stick surface so that the cake will have a surface to grip as it rises slowly.

5. Please follow my egg white beating instructions with NOT too high speed and beat egg white mixture until it form soft peaks. Not stiff peaks!

6. Please use Kraft individually packed singles cheese or cheddar slices or something similar whether they are light milky or orangey colour. Please do not replace the cheese with grated cheese or cheddar like tasty cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan or etc because these grated cheese has a heavier texture and also a sharper taste and will eventually offset the overall feathery light texture and taste of this cake.

7. If you like the cake to be a little more cheesy, you will sprinkle about 1 tbsp very fine powdered Parmesan cheese on the top of the cake batter just before baking. This step is optional.

I promise! Although I have not tasted the original Taiwanese old school sponge cake from Danshui, I can assure you that this cake can be comparatively irresistibly good as the ones selling like hot cakes in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia!

Here's the recipe that is adapted from Kathy Heng via Meg Tan at Facebook.

Makes one 18 cm square cake

For the egg yolk mixture:
20g cream cheese
70g milk
70g neutral tasting oil like vegetable oil, canola oil or rice bran oil
90g egg yolk (about 6, please use exact weight)
90g cake flour with 8% protein
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

For the egg white mixture:
200g egg whites (about 5-6, please use the exact weight)
1 tsp lemon juice
80g caster sugar

To fill:
4 pieces cheese singles

To top:
about 1 tbsp Parmesan very finely ground cheese powder, optional

Preheat the oven to 150°C or please see the below oven setting tips* to know the right temperature setting for soufflé cake baking.

Line the inside bottom of the cake pan (with NO non-stick surface - see my above photo) with baking paper. Do not line or grease the internal side of the cake pan. Wrap the outside bottom and sides of the cake pan with 1-2 layers foil to prevent the water for steam baking from seeping in and also provide extra insulation around the cake. Place cake pan in the middle of a deep 35 cm x 25 cm (14 x 10 inches) baking tray. Set aside.

Place cream cheese, milk and oil in a large mixing heat proof bowl. Place the mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and make sure the mixing bowl is big enough to sit on the top of the saucepan. While heating, keep stirring the cream cheese until it looks melted into the mixture. It's ok if the mixture looks curdled. Remove mixture from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly for 5-10 mins. Do not discard the simmering water as you can use it later for your steam baking.

Using a hand whisk, add egg yolks gradually, one by one into the cream cheese mixture and whisk until mixture is just combined after every addition. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into the cream cheese mixture and whisk until well incorporated. Mixture is thick and viscous at this stage. Scrape mixture into a sieve with semi-coarse mesh and use a spatula to push and scrape all the mixture through the sieve. It's ok if a minimal amount of mixture is stuck on the sieve because this step helps to prevent the batter from being lumpy.

Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and lemon juice at a low medium speed for at least 5 mins to stabilise the egg white mixture. Increase the whisking speed to the next higher speed. While whisking, add sugar gradually in 3-4 batches and continue to whisk at the next higher speed (medium speed) until soft peaks form. Please do not use high speed to avoid forming large and coarse bubbles. To stabilise the air bubbles in the mixture, decrease whisking speed to low speed and beat for another 1 mins.

Using a hand whisk or a spatula, gently fold in the egg whites to the cream cheese mixture in 3-4 portions. It is ok to mix the 1st portion of egg white more vigorously into the cream cheese mixture but the subsequent portions must be folded in very gently. Make sure that most of the white is not visible after folding.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared cake pan. Arrange the cheese slices on top of the batter and pour the remaining batter onto the cheese layer. Use a skewer to draw a zigzag to remove air bubbles only on the surface in the batter. Sprinkle cheese powder evenly on the cake batter (optional).

*To set your oven up for steam baking, place a baking rack in the middle position for your cake and another in the highest position for your heat shield. Some ovens work better with the soufflé cake baking at a lower position - so please know your oven! Place an empty baking tray on the highest rack as a top heat shield. Just before baking, pour 2 cups (500ml) boiling hot water (not more or less as the difference will affect the oven temperature) into the deep baking tray that contains the cake pan.

Note: Based on my optimised steam bake at here, I know that my Ariston oven is typically warmer and so I'm baking my cake in slightly lower temperature which is 130°C instead of 150°C for 80 mins.

Baking for 70-80 mins or until the top of the cake is firm enough. Remove the "top heat shield" baking tray at the highest position of the oven and continue to bake for another 5-10 mins or until the top of the cheesecake turns golden brown.

Remove cake from oven and immediately drop the cake with the pan on at a height of about 30 cm onto the table top. This helps to prevent the cake from shrinking too much during cooling.

Leave the cake to cool slightly for about 5 mins and unmould the cake immediately after removing it from the oven. Place the cake on a wire rack to allow it to cool further.

Slice and serve while the cheese in cake is still oozy or wait until the cake loses its strong eggy smell when it is completely cooled. Store uneaten cake in an airtight container at room temperature and consume the cake within the same day of the bake or latest on the next day. Cake won't taste so good if it is stored in the fridge and the cheese in the cake will go off if it is stored at room temperature for more than 2 days.

Happy Baking
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  1. wow! interesting recipe! first time seeing a new version of cheese cake!hope u have a nice weekend

  2. I' ve been looking for this recipes, thank you for sharing the recipes, zoe.

  3. Thanks for sharing. May I know you using plain flour or self raising flour? thanks

    1. Hi, I'm using plain cake flour with low protein content. Cheers!

  4. is 20g cream cheese correct?.. gonna try bake this very soon!

  5. Do you think I can use d oven steam bake function instead?

    1. I'm sorry that I'm not very sure with your oven function and I suppose it should be the same as baking with a tray of boiling water.