Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gettin' my "chiff-on"

Today I am making a chocolate chiffon cake. First, a little history about the chiffon cake. One of the interesting things about chiffon is that it was created by Americans. Most cakes and cake making methods were developed by the French. Chiffon cakes became popular in the US because they were simpler to make than traditional European cakes, and they could easily be made at home. Also, they used oil instead of butter, which made them less expensive to make. (This was important in the early 1900s during the Great Depression.) Chiffon cakes were light and fluffy (due to the addition of whipped egg whites), like a genoise cake, BUT they tasted better because they used oil and egg yolks to give richness and flavor.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake
1 3/4 c. Flour (All-purpose)
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil
6 large egg yolks
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
10 large egg whites
pinch cream of tartar

Every good baker knows to begin with "mise en place," a french term that means "everything in place." Basically, you get your stuff together so that you don't find yourself in the middle of a recipe without an essential ingredient or tool.

Once you have everything you need, grab a large bowl and sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and most of the sugar (leave about 1/4 c to the side) into it. Whisk to combine. Now, combine the water, oil, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice in another bowl and whisk well to mix. Add your liquid ingredient mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk well to combine. In another large bowl, whip your egg whites until frothy, add a pinch of cream of tartar, then continue whipping to soft peaks.

At this point, begin slowly adding the remaining sugar to the whites, increase the speed on your mixer to medium-high/high and whip until your whites are glossy and stiff. (TIP: This helps if your egg whites are at room temperature to begin.) Now, use a rubber spatula to incorporate a small portion of the whites into the chocolate mixture.

Fold in the remaining whites just until incorporated (but make sure it is fully mixed - no one likes to get a bite of cake that is just cooked egg whites!). Pour into a parchment-lined 10" springform pan and bake at 325 for about 50 minutes (or until a tester comes out clean). TIP: Make sure you put this in the middle of your oven and remove the rack above it - it does rise a lot!

Cool on a rack and run a knife along the sides of the pan to unmold. This cake is very versatile and can be used in place of butter cakes (for a lighter taste) or in place of genoise (for more flavor). ENJOY!

As an aside, if you conserve ingredients in this recipe, you will find yourself with 4 extra egg yolks. You can put them in a small container, cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another use (hmmm...creme brulee). They'll keep for a couple of days.

1 comment:

Henry Pie said...

Heidi, just want you to know that I'm here reading....The cakes, pie,tiramisu and biscotti were delicious!

Love Dad