Thursday, 22 March 2012

'The Emma-Lily': A Rose, Lychee and Raspberry Chiffon Cake


Have you ever eaten a cake with this combination of flavours before? Well I certainly havn't, and who knew it would work out so well; we were all surprised. I made this cake for my best friend's (aka the flat mate) birthday, and I guess she was my inspiration. When I make birthday cakes I like to add a bit of something from the person I am making it for, be it their favourite flavour, colour, or even a little bit of their personality in an edible form of course. So this cake really is like my best friend encapsulated in one bite: sweet, light, pretty and fruity. She loved it. When I was browsing through recipes I stumbled upon a blog called 'The Pleasure Monger' and I can't recommend it enough. I used a combination of recipes to make this cake. I really loved her take on the 'Ispahan' cake inspired by Pierre Herme (one of my favourite patisserie chefs, the other being Hidemi Sugino). Whilst I was drooling at the beautiful photos of this cake I just knew that I wanted to do my own take on it, but on a bigger scale to make more fitting for birthday celebrations. I know that Herme loves to do things in mini portions, but the bigger the better right?! Well at least there would be more to share.

The recipe is a combination of various recipes which have been played around a little bit. I experimented with things like the jelly and the creme mousseline, as I've never added anything like that to a cake before and I can tell you that this is just the start of something new. I love creme mousseline, it's so much better than filling the cake with just normal whipped cream or butter cream! Chiffon cake is another thing which I was 'experimenting' with as I have never made it before so didn't really know how to handle the cake or even how to make it in the first place; thank heavens for instructions which I solemnly follow to a tee. I am now a chiffon cake lover, they are just soo light and fluffy that it is actually quite easy to finish of a whole cake without much effort. Also I consider them healthier than normal cake as they contain less sugar and not too much oil; it's the  whipped egg whites which transforms the cake from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Rose and lychee are unusual flavours to use in cakes and you don't come across them too often. Some of you may be wondering how exactly I incorporated these flavours into the cake, well the 2 secrets are rose syrup and a can of tinned lychees. If you can't find rose syrup use rose water and add a bit of red/pink food colouring to it, and if you don't have rose essence just dilute the rose syrup with some water. I don't know how easy it is to get hold of lychees either fresh or tinned but they sell both in the supermarkets here in the UK, you just have to look. I thought that by adding both flavours to the cake that one of them may be a bit washed out but to my surprise you could definitely taste both, definitely the rose in the creme chantilly and the lchee in the creme mousseline and in the centre of the cake; the perfect balance of flavours. And the raspberries and strawberries did their job well too by not only looking pretty but also adding that extra sharp fruity hit to the palate in contrast to the creamyness of the rest of the cake. For those people who don't like overly sweet cakes this was definitely not too sweet, which in a way is bad as it means you can eat more and more and more of the cake without feeling too sick.

This recipe makes a fabulous birthday cake and if you have a day to spare why not spend it making this beauty of a cake, your tummy for sure won't regret it. The cake weighed at least 2-3kg and just about fit in the fridge luckily and it was a bit of a challenge finishing it. Luckily (or not so luckily some may argue :-p) we shared it with a few friends and devoured it in about 2 days. Those 2 days our diets literally consisted of cake, and we were definitely sad to see it all go. I'll just have to make it again.


Rose Chiffon Cake

Refer to this recipe from Evan's Kitchen Ramblings.

Lychee Chiffon Cake

Refer to this recipe from The Pleasure Monger for the cake batter. Don't add the food colouring and use the liquid in the can of tinned lychees instead of fresh lychee juice (unless you happen to have fresh lychee juice).

Creme Mousseline

Refer to this recipe from The Pleasure Monger and double the quantities. I didn't have lychee liqueur so I added the same quantity of lychee juice as a substitute.

Ispahan Jelly

Adapted from this recipe.

140g water
3 tablespoon canned lychee juice
1/2 tbsp rose syrup
10g sugar
8 raspberries crushed
5g gelatin sheets softened in cold water
1tsp red food colouring

Add all the ingredients except the gelatin sheets into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Then take the saucepan off the heat and add the softened gelatin sheets and mix well. Now sieve the mixture so that it is clear. Pour into a tin foil lined circular tin which is slightly smaller than the chiffon cake tin. Leave to cool a bit. Leave in the fridge for at least 5-6 hours until it is set and jelly like. 

Rose Creme Chantilly

750ml double/whipping cream
3tbsp icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp rose syrup
a few drops of red food colouring

Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and combine. Whisk the cream till stiff peaks form (be careful not to over-whip the cream). You can adjust the flavour according to your taste such as adding more rose syrup or adding more or less sugar.

Vanilla Creme Chantilly 

150ml double/whipping cream
1/2tbsp icing sugar
a few drops vanilla essence

Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and combine. Whisk the cream till stiff peaks form (be careful not to over-whip the cream).

Lychees- either fresh or tinned lychees
Raspberries to go inside the cake and on top for decoration
Strawberries for decoration


1. Trim off the outer layer on the chiffon cakes as the brown will show when you slice the cake. In hindsight I should have trimmed literally all the sides and not just the top layer. Make sure both cakes are even and of the same size. Place the base cake layer on a cake board so it saves you transferring the cake later.

 2. Cover the bottom cake layer (I used the rose chiffon as the base) with some creme mousseline.
 3. Add whatever fruit you want in the middle or none at all. I first added a ring of raspberries.
4. Then I filled the centre with some lychees.
5. Pipe some more creme mousseline on top.
6.Smooth over the creme mousseline making sure it enters all the gaps and covers the raspberries on the sides. Place in the fridge whilst you do the next bit so that the creme mousseline hardens a bit.
7. Make a hollow in the middle of the top layer of cake (I used the lychee chiffon for this) which is the same size as the Ispahan jelly container.
8. Carefully add the Ispahan jelly into the hollow. If it the jelly breaks it's not the end of the world, don't worry, it's in the center so people won't notice so much.

9. Place this top layer of cake on top of the base so that it is jelly side face down. Patch up the sides with any left over creme mousseline so that it's even and smooth.
10.Now start adding the rose creme chantilly onto the cake. Spread with a palette knife.
11. Keep smoothing it over until it is as perfect as you can get it.
12. Pipe the vanilla creme chantilly onto the cake as a ring of small peaks.
13. Add raspberries on top of the vanilla creme chantilly peaks.
 14. Slice some strawberries and add to the centre of the cake. Serve the cake as soon as you can whilst it's fresh. Otherwise you can put it in the fridge for a few days (I don't know how long as it was all gone in around 2 days), but be warned the strawberries will dry out unless you put a glaze on them.

The Pleasure Monger
Evan's Kitchen Ramblings 

A post by Fullest of Life


  1. Literally the best cake I've ever tasted in my whole 'cake-tasting' career life! The flavours and textures - could not be highly recommended enough. Thank you my dear. xx

  2. The best cake I've ever seen until now! Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I got to try it out next week!

  3. Thanks! I'd love to know how it turns out! :)

  4. Hey,
    Thank you for sharing your recipe I really appreciate it!
    I never use gelatin sheets before and I was wondering how do you measure 5g of gelatin if they are in sheets? If the gelatin is 3g per sheets do you add 1 + 1/2 sheets to get 5g? What if the gelatin is 2.5g per sheet do you use 2 sheets to get 5g?

    1. Hi there,
      With regards to the gelatine, yes I just cut up the genatine leaves to get the desires weight. One of the digital weighing machines is useful. Otherwise just look on the back of the packet and see the quantity of genatine needed to set a certain amount of liquid and work it out that way. Hope that helps :)

    2. Hey,
      What kind of digital scale do you use? I have a electronic kitchen scale at home that can't weigh anything light as the gelatine sheet. There is so many different kinds of scales I don't know which one to buy that can measure small weight as 0.1g or even 1g can you please look in the website and choose which one I should buy that can weigh light stuff.

      I have another question that I would like to ask you how to convert gelatin sheets to powder if the recipe call for 5g gelatin sheets or any number of grams that the recipe ask for how do you covert it to power and how many milliliter of water do you need to soak the gelatin power?

      Thanks :)

  5. I acutally bought the cheapest digital scale I could find which is the Salter Arc Electronic Kitchen Scale - 1066-BKEF on London Drugs. It only measures to the nearest gram not to 0.1g, however I don't think you need that amount of precision. The recipe says 0.5g just weigh out 1 gram and half it.
    The gelatine sheets that I used required 4 leaves to set 1 pint of fluid, Whereas 1 satchet of gelatine powder sets 1 pint of liquid. So you can estimate that 1 leaf of gelatine is equivalent to 1/4 satchet. Each gelatine sheet is 1.7g (the brand I use is Dr.Oetker), so you would require 3 sheets of gelatine for this recipe. The brand of gelatine powder I use is also Dr.Oetker and it comes in 12g sachets. Therefore for this recipe you would need 3/4 (9g) sachet gelatine powder. Because you are using water to make the jelly anyway, just dissolve the gelatine in that volume (140g in this recipe) without adding any extra water. Make sure that you add the gelatine after the mixture has reached boiling point and has been seived, and always add the powder to the water not the other way around, If it doesn't dissolve just heat the mixture up a bit but make sure not to boil it. I hope that this explanation makes sense. I would also love to see a pic of the cake if you end up making it. I have a flickr group you could post it on :

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  7. I made this cake last year for a friend's birthday and everyone loved it!! I was lazy and short on time so I doctored cake mixes to get the rose and lychee layers but it was still delish! Thanks a lot for posting this!! :)

  8. Hi, do you mind sharing the recipe for the lychee chiffon cake? Thank you!