This post is dedicated to my Grand mom. She’s the first baker I knew. I grew up eating her pressure cooker cakes for Christmas and birthdays. She was one strong woman who left the country she was born and raised (then British Malaya, now Singapore), married a stranger chosen by her family and moved to India during World War 2, bore 8 kids, raised them with discipline and values, worked as a school Principal all her life, worked post-retirement just to keep herself occupied and took her last breath on her birthday at the ripe age of 80. Grand dad was the typical chauvinist husband. Nothing much to write home about.
Singapore, my second home. I’ve spent a big chunk of my life in this country. Apart from the hawker centers and food courts, pastry shops like Bengawan solo and Bread talk were places I visited regularly. I love their kuehs, buns, chiffon cakes, entremets et al. First time I had a fluffy, feather light chiffon cake was in Singapore. They have some exotic flavors like Pandan, Durian, Sakura, Matcha, Ube purple yam, Black sesame, Soy milk, Oolong tea etc.
This is my birthday cake. I love chiffon cakes, so I baked two different flavored chiffon cakes with two different filling and frosting. I kept it au naturale, just the way I like it. Nothing fancy! Technically, chiffon cakes fall under the category of shortened cakes as they contain liquid fat but uses the foam technique for leavening. Chiffon purists will cringe at the thought of using butter instead of oil for fat, addition of baking powder or baking soda for leavening and using a regular cake pan instead of a tube pan. Over the years, chiffon cake recipe has been distorted to suit one’s needs. I prefer chiffons over other cakes because they are rich in flavor unlike true sponges, remain soft and moist when refrigerated with a spongy texture, amazingly tender crumbed due to the oil used, stores well at room temperature for at least two days and freezes beautifully un-garnished. They are light textured and moist making them suitable for dessert cakes and gateaux with rich fillings like custards and curds.
My gripe about chiffons is the use of tube pans which leaves a big hole in the center of a beautifully risen cake with lofty height. It’s a nightmare to decorate a cake with a hole in the center. So I resorted to regular cake pans instead of tube pans. Yes, you can use regular cake pans. Demerit – Slightly less height, yet soft and moist. Can I make egg free chiffons? I do not know as I have never tried one.
Few chiffon facts
– Baking expertise – Intermediate. Trust me, I’ve seen bakers claiming to have baking experience bake a chocolate omelette instead of a chocolate chiffon. Where as a newbie baked a successful one. One needs light handedness.
– Most chiffon cakes use cake flour. Low protein (7-8%) in cake flour achieves a soft, tender crumbed cake. You may use all purpose flour (10-12% protein) but will get slightly heavy crumb due to the gluten.
– A good chiffon does not cave in and collapse when cooled. If so, you may have greased the cake pans. Chiffon clings to the sides of the pan and the center to build structure. Non stick pans may seem good but the chiffon deflates later. It weighs down itself as the non stick or greased sides do not support the weight of the batter. Hence, use only good old aluminium cake pans.
– Dense and heavy texture is due to under whipped or over whipped egg whites.
– Large air bubbles in the cross section of the crumb is due to pouring the batter to the cake pan from a height. Pour slowly at a low height.
CREAM CHEESE CHIFFON CAKE
I’ve baked cream cheese pound cake several times, but attempted a chiffon with cream cheese for the first time. It was a success. The slightly tangy flavor was liked by family and friends. Hence, sharing the recipe.
Adapted from here – http://happyflour.blogspot.com/…/cream-cheese-chiffon-cake.…
I halved the recipe and used a 7 inch, 3 inch high round cake pan.
35 ml milk
32 gm cream cheese. I used Philadelphia cream cheese
15 ml oil
38 gm cake flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
2 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg white
1/8 tsp cream of tartar. Substitute with same amount of lemon juice or white vinegar
43 gm caster sugar
1. Pre heat the oven 160 degree C/ 320 degree F. Prepare a round pan by greasing just the bottom and cover with parchment paper. DO NOT GREASE THE SIDES.
2. Over a double boiler melt cream cheese, milk and oil. Let it cool. Strain and set aside.
3. Mix cake flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Separate eggs while still cold. Let it come to room temperature before use. Be careful, egg yolks form a crust if left open for long.
4. Using a hand mixer, beat egg yolks and salt till pale yellow and frothy. Mix in cooled cream cheese mixture. Add the flour and stir with a silicone spatula or balloon whisk. Be gentle.
5. Whip egg whites till firm peaks form. Half way through add cream of tartar or substitute. Add the caster sugar. Stop when the whites reach it’s fullest volume. Do not over whip.
6. Take 1/4 of the whipped whites and mix with the yolk mixture to slightly dilute it’s thick consistency. Gradually fold in the whites to the yolk mixture in three portions until well combined. Do not over mix, else the whites will deflate.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Whack the cake pan on the kitchen counter once to get rid of big bubbles.
8. Bake for 30-35 mins or till the top browns. Remove the cake pan and invert it on greased cooling rack. Let it cool completely. Loosen the sides with a knife and un mould.
9. Wrap in a cling film and refrigerate before torting. Else slice and serve with whipped cream and compote.
This cake has chestnut chiffon cake (grey cake) – caramel mousse – cream cheese chiffon cake (middle two cake layers) – white chocolate mocha mousse – caramel mousse – chestnut cake chiffon. Frosting – vanilla bean swiss meringue butter cream.
Garnish – Bay leaves and pecan in shell