Saeng Cream Cake

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Saeng cream cake (생크림 케이크) means fresh cream cake in Korean. It’s layers of sponge cake wrapped in layers of whipped cream frosting and fruit and topped with more frosting and fruit. This style of cake is ubiquitous throughout Korea, Japan and China. If you google the term “Chinese Bakery Cake,” you’ll see what I mean.

I used approximately 3 oz. of Vanilla extract in this recipe. If you don’t like vanilla, you can replace it with almond, orange, lemon, or rose water.

There are three parts to this recipe: simple syrup, cake batter and frosting.

First, make the simple syrup, which is simple to make yet has complex flavor.

Simple sugar syrup
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 of a lemon
1 oz. (standard shot glass) of Madagascar vanilla extract (added separately)

  1. Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon (remove the seeds) in a saucepan.
  2. Heat to boiling.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Stir in Madagascar vanilla extract and set aside.

Second, bake your sponge cake. (Or buy one at the store. After all, most Koreans buy their sponge cakes at the store too. But if you want to bake your own, here’s a recipe for butter sponge cake to try. I ended up baking two so I’d have a two layer cake.

Butter sponge cake
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk, scalded
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar

  1. Sift together flour and baking powder.
  2. Add butter and vanilla to scalded milk and keep hot.
  3. Beat egg yolks till thick and lemon colored; gradually beat in sugar.
  4. Quickly add flour mixture; stir just till mixed.
  5. Gently stir in the hot milk mixture.
  6. Bake in a greased 9-inch-square, 2-inch-high pan in a moderate-heat oven (350 degrees F) for 30 to 35 minutes or till done.
  7. Cool thoroughly. (Do not invert the pan.)

Third, make the frosting.

Whipped cream frosting
3 cups (750 cc) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (250 cc) granulated sugar (optional)
Madagascar vanilla extract to taste (approximately 2 ounces)

  1. In a chilled metal bowl, whip the heavy cream on high speed with an electric mixer using a whisk attachment.
  2. When cream begins to thicken, add vanilla extract and the optional 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar if desired.
  3. Continue to beat on high speed until fully whipped.

Fourth, assemble the cake.

  1. Trim off any brown bits from the sponge cake.
  2. Slice the cake into three layers with a serrated knife.
  3. Remove the two top layers and set them aside
  4. Brush the surface of the bottom layer with the sugar syrup. This is for flavor and a little moisture. Do not make it sopping wet.
  5. Frost the layer with some whipped topping and add a layer of your favorite fruit. (I used strawberries because they’re in season.)
  6. Put the second layer on and brush it with the syrup, frosting and fruit.
  7. Set the last layer at the top, brush it with the syrup then coat it with the frosting.
  8. Frost around the edges of the cake to cover up those layers and any imperfections in baking or layer-cutting.
  9. Top the cake with the remaining fruit.
  10. Put the remaining frosting into a pastry bag (or a zip-seal bag with the corner snipped off) and decorate the cake with a flourish. Or you can do what I did and simply smear the frosting on the sides and cover it all the way around with diced fruit.

An easy way to hide your lackluster cake decorating skills is to cover the entire cake in fruit. My husband called this the Wall of Fruit.

A video of the recipe is available here. Don’t mind the Korean; you will pick up the gist of it by watching closely. The saeng cream cake is the second half of the video; the first half shows how to make pecan pie. Think of it as “two for the price of one.”

Posted by Tammy

Editor’s note: I double checked, and there are two ways to spell saeng 생 in hangeul. The most common form is “생,” or “saeng,” but it can also be spelled “쌩,” or “ssaeng.” But that latter spelling also means “whistling.”


Author: Tammy

I'm a writer/blogger for Koreafornian Cooking (USA), the San Francisco Bay Area Editor for ZenKimchi Food Journal (South Korea) and occasionally for WineKorea.asia developing Korean and Korean fusion recipes, and writing articles on the Korean food scene in the San Francisco Bay Area and commentary on Korean food culture. I've written articles for Yonhap News Agency based in South Korea and Plate Magazine, a culinary magazine. My recipes have been featured on Serious Eats/Slice, Foodbuzz.com, New Asian Cuisine, Marxfoods.com and Korea.net.

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  • http://www.koreaforniancooking.com/ Tammy

    Saeng means “fresh” or “raw” in Korean.

  • http://overconcerned.wordpress.com Wei-Wei

    Yum! Does saeng mean fresh? This looks absolutely delicious, and so much like a classic bakery birthday cake 😉


  • Seri

    Ah i love you, just about 2 weeks ago I was feeling to make this cake but didnt know a trustworthy recipe.. now I got me one!

    I have an electric oven now, I honestly loved my gas oven but do you think there’s any major difference to watch out for? It’s also fanned.

    • http://www.koreaforniancooking.com/ Tammy

      I’m happy you appreciate this recipe. Feel free to test it out and add your own touches. : )

      As for your question, if your “fanned” oven is a convection oven that is gas-powered, than you’ll have to factor in the fact that the baking times are shorter with convection ovens than regular (or conventional) gas stoves.

  • Biskitsorange

    this recipe looks completely ripped from another site i go to. thanks.

    • http://zenkimchi.com/ ZenKimchi

      At ZenKimchi, we have strict policies to give credit where it’s due and to prevent any form of plagiarism. When I first heard this accusation, it alarmed me immediately. We take things like this very seriously. I checked The Tangled Woods post and compared it side-by-side with Tammy’s post. I invite the readers to do the same.A Korean saeng cream cake is basically an American-style sponge cake with whipped cream icing. It also has an inner layer of simple syrup, which is standard practice with bakery-made cakes. Since cakes deal with formulas that require precise measurements, you’re not going to see great variations in recipes. A sponge cake is a sponge cake is a sponge cake. Tammy is no more ripping off Tangled Woods than Tangled Woods is ripping off Joy of Cooking.Nonetheless, let’s compare the two recipes piece by piece.SUGAR SYRUPTANGLED WOODS- 1 cup (250cc) water- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar- 1 cinnamon stick- 1/2 of a lemonadded separately:- 1 oz. (standard shot glass) of triple secZENKIMCHI1 cup water1/2 cup sugar1 cinnamon stick1/2 of a lemon1 oz. (standard shot glass) of Madagascar vanilla extract (added separately)Again, professional cakes use simple syrup (http://allrecipes.com//HowTo/decorating-cakes-t…). The addition of cinnamon and lemon is pretty standard and not all that original. The unique part of Tangle Woods’s recipe is the addition of triple sec, which is not used at all in Korean bakeries. Tammy used vanilla extract, which is more common.CAKE INGREDIENTSTANGLED WOODS- 6 eggs- 1 cup (187.5g) sugar- 1 1⁄2 cups (187.5g) all purpose flour- 2 1⁄4 tablespoons (30g) butter, meltedZENKIMCHI1 cup sifted cake flour1 teaspoon baking powder1/4 cup butter, melted1/2 teaspoon vanilla1/2 cup milk, scalded6 egg yolks1 cup sugarI’ll give Tangled Woods some credit. She made a pure authentic sponge cake with no leavening ingredients. Tammy used baking powder and a totally different method for incorporating gas bubbles into the batter. The two ingredient sets are so drastically different, I think the two bakers are making completely different cakes.WHIPPED CREAM FROSTINGTANGLED WOODS- 3 cups (750cc) heavy whipping cream- triple sec to taste (approx. 2 oz.)ZENKIMCHI3 cups (750 cc) heavy whipping cream1/4 cup (250 cc) granulated sugar (optional)Madagascar vanilla extract to taste (approximately 2 ounces)There ain’t many variations you can do on whipped cream. It’s heavy cream that is–um, whipped. Tangled Woods relies again on triple sec. Tammy goes the more authentic Korean route with sugar and vanilla.The end result, I assume, would have the cake from Tangled Woods have a slightly orange flavor while ZenKimchi’s would have a light vanilla flavor. These are two distinct variations of a traditional sponge cake recipe with whipped cream.Another comment in the accusation emailed to me last night was that Tammy copied Tangled Woods’s musings about the spelling of “saeng.” That actually came from me before approving the final post (see “Editor’s Note”), as I changed Tammy’s original spelling to standardize it to the more common one, and I felt an explanation was needed for my edit. I used Daum’s dictionary for that one. I had never seen or was aware of The Tangled Woods site until it was brought up to me last night.If anyone wants to investigate this further, you can check Tangled Woods’s post here: http://www.thetangledwoods.com/2010/01/korean-s…I was going to add this link to our original post, but since the accusation was addressed publicly in the comments, I feel it suffices to keep the link here in the comments.Thank you. :)

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