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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

One of the basic recipes which you should have under your belt, is this Chocolate Chiffon cake, which can be used for cakes of all occasions. So what is a "chiffon cake" and where did it come from?

It is a very light cake usually made with oil instead of the traditional butter found in most cake recipes. The Chiffon is part of the "foam" cake recipe with the Angel Cake because both are lightened up by incorporating whipped egg whites into the cake mixture. The fact that this type of cake is made with oil, makes it lighter and doesn't harden when cooled. Because some of the flavor from the cake is lost by replacing butter with oil, Chiffon cake is usually accompanied by fruit, flavorful fillings or fruit.

Compared to many other very popular cake recipes, this one was invented in the 20th Century. To my surprise, I discovered that it was even invented by an insurance salesman, turned caterer. Harry Baker invented this cake in 1927 and kept the recipe TOP SECRET for a good 20 years, that is, before he sold it to General Mills. That was the big turning point in the commercialization of this recipe. After that, 14 variations and recipes of the cake were created and published in a booklet to the public by no one else then, Betty Crocker in 1948. At this point in time, cake flour was sold under the brand name of "SOFTASILK" and was featured in the Crocker chiffon cake recipes, as was "Wesson Oil". This oil was manufactured in Memphis TN in 1899 by the discovery of deodorizing cotton oil. This resulted in the first vegetable shortening made from cotton seeds.

The chiffon recipe was, at the time, very revolutionary and almost a science experiment to have in your home kitchen. Unlike this recipe, the following recipe contains butter and all purpose flour can also be used if you do not have cake flour laying around the house. Here's what you'll need:

- 1 1/4 cup
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 cup Cocoa
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 3/4 Cup Butter (softened)
- 1 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 5 Egg Whites (At room temperature)
- 2 Egg Yolks (At room temperature)
- 1Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Milk (Room Temperature)

***Because this cake's height relies on the assembly of the ingredients, the ingredients should be put together in this manner before mixing. ***
Step 1: Sift together flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.
Step 2: Place the egg yolks and the vanilla together in a small bowl, set aside.
Step 3: Beat softened butter with ONE CUP of the sugar in a large bowl till fluffy and light in color (this will be your main bowl).
Step 4: Have your egg whites ready in your mixer bowl with the remaining HALF A CUP of the sugar.
Step 5: Spread a thin coat of butter inside 2x 9" round pans and dust the pans with cocoa. This "butter and flour mold" technique will aid with unmolding the cake. Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

***Before whipping up your egg whites, your prep should resemble this***

Now to assemble the ingredient:
Step 6: Add the yolk and vanilla to the butter mixture, mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Step 7: Add the flour mixture and the milk, alternating between the two, starting and finishing with the flour mixture.

Step 8: Whip the egg whites, adding the 1/2 cup of sugar when foaming in mixer. Whip till firm peaks form on the whisk attachment.

Step 9: Incorporate a third of the whites into the chocolate batter, mixing well to lighten up the mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining 2/3 of the whites to put the most air possible into the cake mixture.

Step 10: Divide the batter between the two prepared pans, gently leveling the batter in the pans. Bake right away into the preheated 350F oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

After baking, it is crucial to let the cake cool in the pan before removing. Because the chiffon cake is so light and moist in texture, not letting it cool might result in the cake crumbling out of the pan like the following picture.

This cake recipe is always a good choice when wanting to assemble a birthday cake. This is simply a recipe from what you have when baking a Betty Crocker cake in a box. I'll bet you anything that this version tastes WAY better, mostly when baked with love. 

Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!


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