Food, Recipes from the Heart

Birthdays and Durian Layer Cake

May is the month when suddenly there’s a lot of cakes to bake for birthdays. Two nephews, a sister, mum, brother-in-law and my partner all turn a year older in May. I do not know why the universe made May a very hectic month for me, but thankfully, I only have to bake two cakes since two years ago – mum’s and the partner’s.

Since venturing into baking properly (read: not Eid goodies only), I have played with the idea of playing with piping, frosting and fresh cream. Though I often chicken out the moment I’m in the baking supplies shop standing in front of the refrigerated goods section. This year, after three whole weeks of research, watching videos and swooning over Jamie Oliver making his Chantilly cream, I told myself, “Heck I’m making one awesome cake for my mum this year!” I reached out for the whipping cream, paid and left the store. In twitterverse, I did it #likeaboss!

That angel-devil conflict was not the only one – I wanted to make a non-chocolate cake but I knew vanilla or using plain jam would be boring. I wanted something decadent, expensive and my mother would very much enjoy. What better fruit to bring in but durian, the king of fruits. I enjoy eating durian as much as I enjoy baking and cooking with them. I realised I already have 3 other durian based recipes from my tumblr, but this is epic. A durian layer cake. A durian layer cake made by someone who has never touched whipping cream or layered cakes in the kitchen. I was prepared for the worse.

Thankfully, the disaster came only when I made the sponge base. I initially used a chiffon cake recipe which I thought was too difficult, and yes. It was difficult. The cake collapse, burst my confidence for a bit and went into oblivion. Okay not really. I packed the cake away in containers and put it on display. I knew my mum would find them a treat during tea, but to me, that was disaster in the making a failed baking attempt.

So I went on twitter and asked Ovenhaven what recipe is fool proof for a sponge cake and she recommended I use Tish Boyle’s hot milk sponge cake. And voila! My confidence came back and I was so eager to finish decorating the cake. This is by far the most time consuming cake I have ever made. Would I do it again? Of course! My sister had two slices while asking me what recipe I used for each part of the cake.

For a first timer, I think I did fairly well. The sponge cake was a bit dense, and I thought the height of the cake would be better, but hey, everyone enjoyed it and that was more important.

Durian Layer Cake

Tish Boyle Hot Milk Sponge Cake


  • 1 1/2 cup(133g) Sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2cup (120ml) whole milk (I used 130ml)
  • 4tbsp (57g) Unsalted butter
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) Granulated sugar (I used 75g)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 180C
  2. Sift together cake flour, baking powder and slat 2 times and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine milk and butter and heat over medium heat just until butter is melted. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with bubble whisk attachment until well combined and frothy (1mins).
  5. Granually add in sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating at high speed for 6 mins until pale and tripled in volume.
  6. Sift one-third of flour mixture over egg foam and gently fold it with a rubber spatula. Repeat with remaining flour mixture in 2 more additions.
  7. Heat up milk mixture to just under a boil. Add it all at once to the egg mixture and gently fold it in to combine.
  8. Pour batter into a 9 inch cake tin
  9. Bake the cake for 20 to 25mins until it springs back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10mins.
  10. Run a paring knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake into the wire rack and let it cool completely.

Durian Cream

1 and a half cups durian flesh (pureed)

half cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon caster sugar (optional – my durian flesh was not as creamy and sweet)

Whip whipping cream using a hand whisk for about 5 minutes, until soft peaks are formed. Ensure that the whisk and bowl are really cold before whisking. Add in sugar and durian puree, and mix till well combined.

Chantilly Cream

1 and a half cups whipping cream

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Whip whipping cream using the wire whisk attachment of your electric mixer. Whip for about 5-6 minutes, until soft peaks and formed. Add in sugar and vanilla, and mix till shiny and well combined.

To decorate:

Cut the cake into two. Spread the durian cream on the first layer and top off with the other half of the cake. Crumb coat the cake using the durian cream, then spread the Chantilly cream all over the cake, and pipe as desired.