Saturday, 15 September 2012

Japanese Steam Lavender Cake

This recipe was from a baking cookbook by a Malaysian chef Alex Goh.  I bought the book for only S$3.90 from NTUC Fairprice.  It's really a steal because the book had pretty good recipes for sponge cakes, chiffon cakes and butter cakes.  I was quite eager to try this recipe for Japanese Steam Lavender Cake as it was one of the chef's favourite but it was a while after I bought the book that I tried it.  I couldn't find Lavender for cooking in Singapore and it was after a trip to Melbourne that I managed to get the Lavender.  I recently found Lavender at Hock Hua dried goods store which is not expensive.  Its from China though.

This cake is soft, spongy and very fine.  My family likes it very much.

I also tried a matcha/green tea variation which turned out pretty nicely too.  I'm rephrasing the recipe here to make it easier to follow as well as included some tips which I had picked up the hard way.


110g plain flour, sifted
110g milk (separated to 80 and 30 ml)
80g butter
6 eggs, separated
130g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tbsp dried lavender (I usually rinse with some hot water before use)


  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius and prepare a water bath (fill a tray larger than the cake tin with about 2 cm of hot water.
  • Grease and line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 inch square tin.
  • Bring 80ml of milk to boil, add Lavender and simmer for a minute or two.  Strain off the lavender and put the milk back into the pot.  (The recipe leaves the lavender in but I don't find it nice to eat so I prefer to remove them.)  With heat still turned on, add butter to the milk and turn off heat when butter has melted.  Leave the mixture to cool until not hot to the touch.  (If the mixture is too hot, it cooks the eggs and flour when added into it, and batter curdles.  It will be impossible to mix in with the egg whites if you did that.)
  • Add the flour, egg yolks and milk, mixing well after each addition.  Mixing by hand will do.  I use a hand whisk.  The result will be a smooth, creamy batter.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and cream of tartar till foamy and add the sugar gradually.  Whisk till stiff peaks form.  Fold this into the other batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated water bath for about 40 mins.  (I usually need to cover the top of the cake with aluminium foil halfway through baking to avoid the top turning too brown.)  The cake rises a lot and will sink by at least a quarter when cooled.

For a green tea variation, use 2 tbsp of green tea powder mixed with 2tbsp of hot water.  Mix in with the 30ml of milk before adding to the warm batter.  I did a marble green tea version, shown below.

The tip in the book actually said "Throughout the mixing process, there is no need to let the batter cool down."  I'm really not sure why the chef said this.  Fortunately, the first time I made this, I prepared the other ingredients after melting the butter so the milk and butter mixture had cooled a little.  The second time, literally taking the chef's tip, I added the rest of the ingredients into the hot butter and milk.  The egg yolks and flour got cooked and the batter curdled.  It was impossible to mix in the whisked egg whites after that.

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