Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Happy Driving

I actually wrote this post last Saturday, seeing as the hotel had Internet.  Alas, I had forgotten the exact recipe for the cake.  That is the sole reason this post is so late.  I apologize to anyone who might actually read these posts regularly (Ha!  This blog has existed for less than half a month and the author thinks someone reads these!).

Two weeks ago, I finally faced my aversion to foam cakes and baked a chiffon cake.  One might consider this a step towards the angel food cake I did end up baking (see post titled Making Nice).  This chiffon cake was to try and convince my brother that scratch cakes were superior in quality to boxed mixes and at the same time, bake something my mum would like.  She prefers light and fluffy cakes rather than the richer, heavier affairs that are easy to bake and sturdy for stacking.  Butter cakes are much easier to make and work with, so those are the ones I typically bake.  They are also delicious, but certainly not truly fluffy, and not in the least light. 

I referred back to my beloved copy of The Cake Book by Tish Boyle, and found a lovely recipe called Classic Chiffon Cake.  It is a foam cake, placed in the same category as the Heavenly Angel Food Cake that I posted about last time.

Classic Chiffon Cake from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle

cups sifted cake flour
¾ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
3 egg yolks
cup water
¼ cup neutral oil (I used olive oil, it appeared to serve the required purpose)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

8-inch diameter springform pan
Parchment paper (to line the bottom of the pan)
Butter for greasing the bottom of the pan
2-cup liquid measure
¼ teaspoon measure
½ teaspoon measure 
¼ cup dry measure
1 cup dry measure 
2 medium bowls (for sifting flour and holding the dry ingredients)
2 large bowls (for mixing and holding egg whites and egg yolks)
1 electric mixer (if using a standing mixer, you only need 1 large bowl)
1 balloon whisk
1 rubber spatula 
1 slender plastic knife to loosen the cake after it is baked


1. Grease only the bottom of the 8-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. Whisk together the flour, ½ cup of the sugar, baking powder and salt in one of the medium bowls. 

3. In one of the large bowls, whisk together the egg yolks, water, oil and vanilla extract.  Whisk in the flour mixture, about at a time. 

4. Using the electric mixer, beat the 4 egg whites with cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks.  Then gradually beat in the ¼ cup of sugar and increase the speed to high until stiff peaks form.  Using the rubber spatula, gently fold about of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.  Try not to deflate the batter too much.

5. Place the batter into the pan and smooth the top.  Bake for about 40 minutes, until toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan for about 20 minutes, then slide a slender plastic knife between the cake and the pan.  Cool the cake completely on a wire rack without the parchment paper.  

Once the cake had completely cooled, I trimmed off the tough outer edges and sliced the cake into 2 horizontal layers.  I refrigerated the 2 layers to let them firm up.  I let a gallon container of cookies 'n cream ice cream sit out for a few minutes, then took the cake from the fridge.  Working quickly, I spread the ice cream onto the bottom layer and sandwiched it with the top layer of cake.  I wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap and shoved it back into the freezer before the ice cream could truly melt. 

Given more time, I would have frosted the cake with whipped cream.  Instead, I simply cut a hole in the corner of a plastic bag and filled it with some store-bought chocolate syrup.  Since I lack proper piping skills, I mis-spaced my letters and managed "Happy Driving" instead of the intended "Happy Driver's License."  I also would have taken pictures.  While I was making this cake, the idea of creating my own blog was still only an idea.  I'll have to repeat this cake and take proper photos this time.  All in all, this cake wasn't bad, and quite satisfyingly light and fluffy even with the ice cream filling.  The recipe originally called for a 9-inch diameter springform pan, but I wanted a higher cake.  This batter puffed out of the pan while baking like a giant muffin, then sank back submissively when it cooled.  I guess the ice cream made up for the lost height.

Only one note, and that is that I should have refrigerated the cake before attempting to trim and slice it into layers.  Because chiffon cakes have no butter in them, they refrigerate and freeze well, remaining soft even frozen.  A firmer cake would have looked a good deal neater and more professional.

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