Durian Layer Cake

Lightly pandan-scented chiffon cake layers sandwich as much durian as you want in this recipe, and the whole shebang is coated in a layer of fluffy durian whipped cream. If my university-era homesick fever dreams could birth a cake, it would be this, because nothing says (and smells like) Singapore as effectively as DURIAN, the king of fruits.

260g cake flour or top flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
120ml grapeseed oil
275g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
8 egg whites
150ml milk
5-7 pandan leaves, cut into sections

600g (or more) durian flesh, puréed
2 tablespoons coconut cream
3-4 tablespoons caster sugar
600ml whipping cream, cold from the fridge

First, line the bottom of two 8” cake pans with baking paper. You can very lightly grease your pan first, if your pan tends to stick to cakes. Preheat your oven to 175C.

Blend the pandan leaves and milk together until the milk is evenly scented and coloured. Strain the milk and measure out 120ml of pandan milk to use later. 

Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together.

With an electric hand mixer, whip the egg whites until fluffy and cloud-like. Take 2 tablespoons of caster sugar from the 275g, and sprinkle that into the beaten egg whites. Continue beating until fluffy, light and a little glossy. Set aside.

Using the same beaters, beat the grapeseed oil and the remaining caster sugar together until combined. Add the egg yolks and beat for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture looks paler in colour and has increased in volume. You may have to stop halfway to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Sift half of the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and mix on a low speed until combined. Pour in the pandan milk, and mix again until even. You will probably have to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl in between. Finally, sift in the remaining half of the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. If any salt is left in the sieve, just tip it in and mix it in.

Take one-third of the fluffy egg whites and mix it into the egg yolk batter. Next, carefully fold in the remaining egg whites, trying your best to keep the air in the mixture while evenly mixing the two together. Scrape the cake batter into the two prepared cake pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes. If the cake is browning on top, but a toothpick or skewer doesn’t come out clean after being poked in the centre, turn the heat down to 160C and bake until cooked.

Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool completely, first in the pan for 10 minutes, then on a wire rack. Once ready to assemble your layer cake, slice the cakes in half horizontally.

Mix 1-2 tablespoons of coconut cream and 1-2 tablespoons of caster sugar into the durian puree, tasting after each addition. Stir to lighten.

Place your base cake layer on a serving plate or cake board, and spread an even layer of durian puree onto it. Repeat until you have assembled the inside of the cake, but leave a little bit of durian puree in the bowl. Place the cake in the fridge while you whip the cream.

Whip the cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff and fluffy. Stir in any remaining durian puree. Using an angled spatula, spread a layer of the durian whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake. If you want to make the cake look more like the mighty durian, gently create ‘spikes’ in the cream. Chill slightly in the fridge before serving.