A Thorny Deception

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One of my special cake requests is the Durian Gateau, a standard round cake constructed from layers of genoise sponge, durian puree, durian panna cotta and durian whipped cream crowned with profiteroles filled with more durian cream. However, for the longest time, somewhere in the wacky recesses of my mind, I’ve bookmarked the idea of disguising a durian cake in its whole fruit form; thorns and all. It wasn’t until such a masterpiece appeared on my Facebook timeline last week by a friend that I was reminded of this long overdue project. My resolve lurched into overdrive; I ransacked the chest freezer for my stash of frozen Musang King and D24 durians (reserved for special orders) and debated whether I should sacrifice the precious commodity I held in my hands for the sake of this impulsive project. Whatever doubts I had were quickly shoved aside – I had to do this! And hubby J’s birthday gathering (second out of three) was just the perfect excuse.

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The durian cake would have to be a buttercake (not sponge)  in order for it to hold up and I was foolish to dive into it using a basic buttercake recipe with added durian pulp. I felt incredibly pained when the first cake failed; it was so dense that it looked uncooked despite it being baked in the oven for a long time. Pained because each box of Musang King durian here costs AUD$21.00 for 500g. Fortunately I reserved half of the pulp for my Italian Buttercream frosting. I reluctantly opened my box of D24 durian for the second batch of cake, messaged my mom for a good durian buttercake recipe and what a relief; the cake, baked in 2 large noodle bowls turned out as it should. The first batch had way too much butter and sugar and these had to be reduced to offset the richness and denseness of the additional durian pulp. Cake was sliced then layered and covered in durian buttercream. I then realised I didn’t have enough durian buttercream to pipe each individual thorn so it was on to plan B – sugarpaste tinted a khaki green, shaped and then individually applied onto the ball of cake. The thorn-application process took 4 hours but I found it oddly therapeutic. To give it a more realistic look, the stem and some of the thorns were brushed and painted with cocoa powder and corn flour.

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I am stoked with the result even though I could have made it less round with slightly more imperfections e.g. dips and dents. All the time delayed in cutting it, we made up with loads of photos and selfies with the prickly star of the day. But alas, it’s a cake; birthday song was sung and the cake was ceremoniously hacked into with you guessed it – a cleaver! The pungent and sweet aroma of durian wafted through the air at the first crack of the faux shell and the cake was destroyed and devoured in mere minutes. BURP – The End!

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