Did you ever eat tinned lychees as a kid? Black Star Pastry’s patron-chef Chris Thé did, and he loved them so much he’s designed a cake around them. “The lychee cake is a bit nostalgic for me because one of my favourite things as a kid was tinned lychees and ice cream,” he says, “we used to have it as dessert with mum and dad.”
Black Star’s new raspberry lychee cake is a homage to this childhood indulgence, but it’s got to stay true to the original in one way in particular, “We did create the cake using fresh lychees,” says Thé, “but they’re only available for a certain season, and I honestly feel that the tinned lychees are such a good fruit. I grew up on tinned lychees!”
So let’s go through the layers. At the base is a rich chocolate sponge, “It adds just a little bit of bitterness to it, and it gives it a nice defining dark line,” says Thé. Then there’s a layer of strawberry-scented cream that is a nice homage to his most celebrated dessert: the strawberry watermelon cake, which shares the same filling. Piped amongst the cream are layers of raspberry marshmallow, “for texture,” he says. There’s a layer of sponge “punched with orange blossom water” and then it’s all topped with more of that cream, fresh raspberries, tinned lychees and fresh flowers.
It looks incredible – just as beautiful as the strawberry watermelon cake, and with a complex, perfumed scent coming from the rosewater, orange flower water and lychees themselves. “We try and make our cakes work on all levels: visually, flavour-wise and also aroma,” says Thé, “Lychees have to be one of the most fragrant, floral fruits you can get, so we’ve got to match them with something else floral to unlock those senses, and make it work.”
We’re already a bit obsessed with it; it’s that good. Just try and control yourself next time you’re at Black Star, because these bad boys are selling fast, “We started it off at Kinokuniya just as a Kino special but now we’ve got it everywhere,” says Thé. And it’s already proving to be one of the most popular cakes on display, “We’re still working out how we can make enough for everyone!” he says, “It generally sells out a little bit earlier than the strawberry cake.”
You heard the man, Sydney – this city’s most popular cake might soon be overtaken by another. Get in line, we’re right behind you.
For more epic cakes, check out Time Out's Best Party Cakes in Sydney.