Patriotism: cultural attachment to one’s country.
Honestly, after born, bred and raised twenty-three years in Singapore, I harbor no feelings of patriotic pride for this little island. That is to say, the government’s efforts – civic and moral education classes, propagandist history lessons – have failed in their purpose. On second thought, I take back my words. I am and should be appreciative of the well-oiled garden city: for its breathless efficiency, tropical weather and fruits, multi-cultural melting pot of races, history, the good mix of modern and nostalgic heritage and architecture and security. “A Fine City.” We pampered Singaporeans may like to complain about everything and anything that does not go our way, but that’s part of our unique culture!
For National Day I wanted to make a cake that featured the best of Singapore’s local favorite fruits in a stylistic manner. Last year I made a really horrendous Singapore flag out of oatmeal, chopped strawberries and whipped coconut cream. However the past year had been one of growing to become more professional, so I attempted a full-sized cake instead.
My interpretation definitely had to involve durian, especially since the durian season is going strong. The creamy texture of durian lends itself very well to making a raw frosting, and made it to resemble the Esplanade, the architectural hulk of a durian, When it came to creating the red portion, pink pitaya was the way to go. The seeds of pitaya are similar to chia seeds in terms of having a gel-like effect, and with just a bit of agar powder to help with the setting, it came out with a mousse-like texture.
The frostings were layered on a basic sponge – gluten-free and vegan. It’s my first attempt on a GFV sponge, the cake being made with chickpea flour and raised by more-than-usual baking soda, baking powder and lemon juice. It turned out really spongy, passing with flying colors the “press-and-bounce-back” test for sponge cakes. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to taste it fresh from the oven, and only got to taste it after it was frozen and thawed. It was very decent for a GFV cake with a slight melt-in the-mouth texture, but as with all vegan cakes, please do not expect airy fairy sponges akin to cakes made with cake flour.
The cake tasted better overnight in the refrigerator when the durian frosting had stiffened up and became more concentrated, and (if it’s not my imagination) the durian aromas seep to fill the pores between the sponge. I would recommend reducing the amount of coconut butter in the pitaya frosting (it was too coconutty), or even omit it altogether.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup coconut nectar or liquid sweetener
- ¾ cup almond or non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup frozen durian flesh
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk or non-dairy milk.
- 100 g pink pitaya
- 30 g coconut butter
- 1 teaspoon agar powder
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- Grease a 6-8 inch cake tin.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the cake in a bowl and mix together.
- In a smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients for the cake and whisk together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together lightly. Pour the mixture into cake tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown and the top springs back when lightly touched. Allow the cake to cool slightly in the tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the durian frosting, place the frozen durian flesh in a food processor and pulse until broken down and creamy. Thin slightly with about 2 tablespoons of coconut milk or non-dairy milk of choice. Scoop out into a bowl and return to freezer.
- To make the pitaya mousse, place the pitaya and coconut butter in a food processor and blend. In a small bowl, dissolve the agar powder in the hot water and stir well. Transfer immediately to the food processor and blend with the pitaya mixture. The final texture should be slightly wobbly but not too thick. Scoop out into a bowl and set aside.
- To achieve the star and crescent shapes, place paper cut-outs over the top of the cake. Using a piping bag and flower tip, pipe the top of the cake except for the covered areas. Remove the paper stencils and fill in the exposed portion with the pitaya mousse.
- Return the cake to the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes. Slice and serve. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the freezer.