Ooh boy, I haven’t posted a Baking Partners Challenge since April!
In May I was busy getting ready for my weekend in New York and June. . . well, that was an epic failure that I didn’t post it because I was busy doing the yoga teacher training thing. (The theme was eclairs, and mine turned out flat as pancakes. I blame the recipe because I’ve made eclairs before without consequence. The chocolate ganache filling, however, was impossible to stop eating.)
The theme for this month is Cake!
We had 2 recipe options to choose from. I picked Lemon Chiffon which looked like the simplest one. The other option, a Russian Honey Cake, sounded tastier but I was deterred by all the layers.
I like cakes that don’t take a lot of effort to make and are decorated with a dusting of icing sugar.
My level of competency doesn’t extend beyond dusting a cake with icing sugar.
When we get into real ‘cake-decorating’ territory my creations would even be rejected by CakeWrecks.com
What is a Chiffon Cake?
The chiffon cake was created by an insurance agent, of all things, in 1927. It became an extremely popular dessert and the technique was carefully guarded until 1947 when he sold the recipe to General Mills.
Chiffon cakes are airy and pillowy in texture with the richness of butter cake and lightness of sponge cake. They’re similar to angel food cakes in that they are leavened with egg whites and are baked in an unlined, un-greased tube pan. Unlike angel food cakes, chiffon cakes contain egg yolks and vegetable oil which keep the cake moist, soft, and tender.
Once baked, the cake tin is turned upside down and hung over the neck of a bottle to cool for 3 hours or overnight which lets the cake set at its maximum volume instead of settling.
It can be nerve-racking to make a cake that you have to hang upside down because if it doesn’t hold you’ll hear a plop as your cake falls to its doom. You need balls to make it.
Here are some links explaining how to perfect a Chiffon Cake:
Chiffon Cakes: Tips and Troubles
Chiffon Cake Tutorial
Chiffon Cake Tips
Chiffon Cake Base – Simplest, Easiest Method (Video)
Lemon Chiffon Cake (Video)
This Lemon Chiffon Cake didn’t turn out horribly, you guys!
I was worried about working with egg whites after the chiizukeiki debacle, but I paid close attention not to over or under whip them.
The cake is relatively easy to make and it retains it’s freshness for quite a while. It has a really nice, light lemony taste making it good cake for springtime when you’re so over all those rich chocolate desserts from the winter. (…who am I kidding, I’m never over rich chocolate desserts).
Side Note: I think it would make a killer trifle as inspired by ‘the improvement’ below.
I did slightly under-bake the cake. It was getting way too dark on top, so I took it out prematurely when I should have just covered it with tin foil or something. This took away from the lightness that I was expecting from an egg white-leavened cake, but otherwise I enjoyed it and would make it again.
I liked the cake on it’s own, but holy goodness it was so much better when I made this yoghurt custard to go with it. (Coincidentally the custard requires exactly the number of egg yolks you’ll be left with after making the cake. Win!).
I added limoncello to the custard to keep the lemon theme rollin’.
Topped with the custard and some fresh blueberries, this cake was wicked awesome.
Lemon Chiffon Cake
From The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Chiffon cakes are airy and pillowy in texture with the richness of butter cake and lightness of sponge cake. They are baked in a tube pan and, once cooked, hung upside down over a bottle to cool. (I made mine in a bundt and it turned out but I think it would have been worth it to dig the tube pan out of my dad’s basement, to get more rise out of it.)
2 1/4 cups / 225g cake flour
1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp. / 300g sugar
1/2 tsp. / 3.5g salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 – 2 tbsp. lemon zest
½ cup / 108g canola oil
3 large egg yolks
2/3 cup / 156g water at room temperature
2 tbsp. / 30g lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp. / 4g cream of tartar
2 tbsp. / 30 g sugar
7 large egg whites at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325*F.
Grab a 10-inch tube pan with a detachable bottom (I used a bundt pan and it worked out okay) but do not grease it as the batter needs to climb up the sides.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the 300g of sugar and the lemon zest. With your fingertips, work the zest and sugar together until the sugar is grainy and very aromatic. Add the cake flour, baking soda, and salt to the bowl.
If using a stand mixer, use the beater attachment and beat on low until the ingredients are well incorporated. You can also do this by hand with a whisk.
Make a well in the center of the ingredients and add the oil, egg yolks, water, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix for about one minute on medium speed until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps.
In a second large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they are foamy. Do it slowly though, it’s not a race. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat on medium speed until they reach soft peak stage. You will know your egg whites have reached this stage when the beaters start to leave a trail or when the peaks fall over when the beaters are raised. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and continue to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks when the beaters are raised.
Using a balloon whisk, add 1/3 of the egg whites to your cake batter and gently stir them until they are incorporated. Add the remaining egg whites to the batter and very gently fold them into the batter until they are incorporated and no traces of egg whites remain.
Pour the batter into the ungreased pan and run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed in the center.
Once cooked, take the cake out of the oven and immediately turn it upside down over a bottle* or similar to it until it is completely cool, 3 hours up to overnight.
Using an up and down motion, use a palette knife to loosen the sides of the cake away from the tin. Pull out the cake and use the palette knife around the bottom of the cake to release it from the base. Turn it over so that the base becomes the top and sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar to serve.
Stays fresh for 3 days in room temperature, 10 days refrigerated, 2 months frozen.
* I suggest you test some bottles when the cake tin is empty to make sure you have one on hand that fits.