In Japan, you can find fruit sando just about everywhere. These cream-filled fruit sandwiches appear on numerous café menus and even vending machines. Most people first experience fruit sando as a homemade Summer treat in their childhood, but this recipe is a bit more elevated.
While fruit sando is traditionally made with Hokkaido milk bread, my variation uses sponge cake, lemon chantilly cream, and fruits soaked in syrup. A touch of shredded coconut adds a pleasant coconut-floral scent to go with each bite.
If you don't have an adjustable cake pan, you can just use whatever cake pans you have and cut the sponge to size, unfortunately losing a lot of cake in the process.
Makes enough for 18 small finger-sandwich cakes
If you are using vanilla bean, you will need to infuse the vanilla and let the cream chill in advance. Only cool cream can be whipped.
The choice of fruit is completely up to you, but the fruits I chose were: bananas, kiwis, strawberries, peaches
The bananas I used were baby bananas, which have a creamier texture and taste of vanilla. The strawberries were high-quality from the farmer's market. The kiwis were golden kiwis, which are a bit more mellow than the very tart green ones. The peaches were Saturn peaches.
Each of these were selected for taste, color, texture, and seasonality.
For instructions on preparing the neutral nappage glaze, see instructions here.
For more detail on preparing this step, see how to make sponge cake.
Sponge cake is prepared in the usual way by beating egg yolks and whites separately, then folding the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Leave the eggs in a bowl of water to come to room temperature. Separate out the yolks from the whites.
If you have not already, sift all of the dry ingredients together (except the sugar) to avoid lumps which might appear in the final product.
Once this mixture is homogenized, prepare the French meringue.
Prepare your cake pan for the batter. Expand it a bit from the final size of your cake so that we can slice off the edges later. For instance, if your final cake will be 7-inches x 10-inches (17cmx25cm), then expand it to 8-inches x 11-inches (20cmx28cm). Then butter and flour your pan in preparation for the batter. Simply spread some softened butter around the pan and sprinkle a thin layer of flour to coat. This will help the cake separate from the pan when it's baked.
Bake this at 350°F (180°C) for about 20 minutes until the center is just barely cooked and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Since the sponge is heavily featured in the final product, this is an important step to ensure you don't overbake it.
Adjust your cake pan to the size of your final cake.
One trick here is to trim in small segments and wipe off the knife each section for a super clean cut.
Now you will need to cut perfectly even layers across the cake for the top and bottom of the cake sandwich. This is nearly impossible to do freehand for such a large cake and is not recommended. Rather, use this secret little trick to cut perfectly even layers.
Get two flat bars that extend at least the length of the cake such as rulers. Use coins as spacers and adjust to the right height such that the knife rests at 50% height of the cake.
You should now have two even slices of sponge cake. Set these aside and wrap them tightly until ready to use in the assembly. Do not let them dry out!
Mix the sugar and the water in a small saucepan—the smaller the better so the fruits get fully submerged. Gently heat the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves, but do not boil it. Take the saucepan off the heat.
For the fruits, you want small angled cuts rather than large chunks. This guarantees that each bite is packed with several unique fruits rather than just one. As you prepare the fruits, drop them into the syrup to prevent them from oxidizing and losing their vibrant colors. At this point, your syrup should be warm or near room temperature. The objective is not to simmer the fruit, but to allow the syrup to absorb into the outer layer. This will help preserve them and add sweet flavor.
Bloom the gelatin in about 2 tablespoons of cold water by whisking them together very quickly. Set this aside while you whip the cream.
Whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla until you reach soft peaks.
By now the gelatin should have solidified. Microwave it in 4-second blasts until it is liquid again and warm. Slowly pour the gelatin into the cream until you reach stiff peaks.
Leave this to refrigerate for several hours (at least 1 hour but longer is better) for the gelatin to stiffen up the cream.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and unmold from the pan. Measure out how large you want your sandwiches to be. For instance, this cake was sliced into thirds, then thirds and each rectangle was then sliced diagonally.
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