Here’s an incomparably light and tasty cake, the chiffon! I love chiffon cakes because of its soft and moist texture, and its ability to retain it even after being refrigerated. This added lightness is given by the use of vegetable oil in place of butter. It was discovered by a Hollywood insurance salesman Harry Baker, who then later sold his recipe to General Mills.
This was my first time making a chiffon and I wan’t sure what to expect! All I knew was that Chiffons are notoriously hard-to-perfect cakes. After making this, I don’t know if I could ever go back to making regular sponge cakes! The separate-egg method combined with the oil replacement really brought out the sponginess in any sponge cake! If you’ve never tried this before, you definitely ought to!
I decided to make the Orange Chiffon, which is a popular flavour in Malaysia. I’m not sure if it’s as popular in Singapore, as I only seem to recall eating lots and LOTS of Pandan Chiffons as a kid. Unfortunately I was also pretty oblivious of food back then, and so now an Orange Chiffon would seem pretty exotic to me! Ironic? I must say..
Looking through many different recipes, I settled on Poh’s, a traditional Malaysian chiffon with a dressed-up Aussie twist! Like most Southeast Asian chiffons, the recipe tended to lend less flour (100-150g) compared to a typical American chiffon (225g). Here is my modification of the recipe. For video instructions, please see Poh’s website!
I was curious as to how well the Chiffon would rise. Poh’s did not seem super tall like some I’ve seen, but since I’m layering it with whipped cream, so perhaps a shorter chiffon would work better anyway. P.S. Chiffons taste awesome even by themselves, but I was sure ganache and whipped cream were great additions!
You wanna know what’s the most painful part about this recipe? Cracking and skinning the damn hazelnuts!! I took about 2 hours to crack what seemed like a million hazelnuts, just to get 1/2 a cup of hazelnuts. It’s so painfully deceiving I tell you! At least for pistachio, the nuts are almost as big as their shells. However, in the case of hazelnuts, they were so pathetically tiny after removing them from their shells.
Deskinning was another issue altogether! I tried both the roast-and-rub-with-towel method as well as the boiling-with-baking soda one and still couldn’t get their skins off them. After much struggle with these NUTbags, I decided to just use my ready sliced almond nuts instead. Yep. I’m sure there’s a much more efficient way to prepare these, but I’m swearing off hazelnuts for now. AARGGHHH! No wonder Ferrero® Rochers are so expensive.
Orange Chiffon Cake
recipe from Poh's Kitchen. (with some modifications)
- 6 egg whites (at room temperature)
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, sifted
- 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar, extra
- 5 tbs (100ml) coconut milk
- 4 tbs (80ml) vegetable oil (canola or corn. Try not to use olive oil)
- 4 tbs (80ml) orange juice
- 1 tbs finely grated orange zest
- 1 cup cake flour, sifted
- 1 3/4 tsp baking powder, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 400ml pouring cream
- 3 tbs icing sugar
- 1/4 cup sliced almond (or any kinds of nuts)
- 150ml pouring cream
- 1 cup good quality dark chocolate chopped or broken into small pieces
- 1/2 cup crushed cornflakes (I used Vectors instead)
- 5 slices of orange
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- Buttercream: (optional)
- 1/4 cup butter (room temperature or slightly colder)
- 3/4 cup icing sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
- Preheat oven at 325°.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and beat thoroughly after each addition until you achieve stiff peaks. It is imperative to reach stiff peaks which will produce a tall chiffon. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks with extra caster sugar until thick, pale and fluffy. Add coconut milk, vegetable oil, orange juice and zest, flour and baking powder, and whisk until combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture three batches. Do not stir.
- Pour into an 8-inch ungreased angel cake tin. It is important that you do not use a non-stick tin and do not grease it. Bake for 30 minutes on the middle shelf, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- When cake is out of the oven, immediately invert the tin and leave the cake in the tin to cool completely (about two hours).
- Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until stiff, be careful not to overbeat as the cream will split. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.
- When the cake is cool and ready to be assembled, run a knife around the edge and base of the cake and invert to release. Slice the cake with a sharp chef’s knife into three equal layers. Spread half of the filling and some nuts on each layer. I think in the future I would add some cocoa powder to the whipped cream, as it will help bring out the layer distinction.
- Bring the cream to the boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, add chocolate and whisk QUICKLY until the chocolate is melted and well combined. Reserve 1/8 cup aside. Place the cake on a wire rack and, using a spatula, spread the ganache evenly over the top and side of the cake.
- Use some crushed cereal to stick onto the bottom of the cake.
- I piped the top with some buttercream + cocoa powder. If you like, you could use whipped cream + cocoa powder too but you may encounter some difficulty since the whipped cream might not be able to withstand the weight of the oranges.
- Use the 1/8 cup of ganache that was previously reserved to dip into orange slices and place on top of buttercream.
Results? I looove this cake! It was incredibly light and the chiffon was sooo soft! I loved the ganache too. Never knew that orange and chocolate complemented each other so well! I’ve seen a lot of chocolate coated strawberries and was wondering if chocolate coated oranges would work. It did! My chiffon might not have risen as much as I liked it to, but I guess at least tall enough for me to divide into 3 layers! haha..
I gave this cake to one of my best friends Jonas, who I’ve known for almost 10 years! Now, although that may not seem like a long time to many of you, 10 years is definitely ancient to me! We went to the same high school in Singapore and came to Vancouver together to attend the same university too!!
Jon’s in med school in Manila now, but he took me around Philippines when I visited last year! Now that he’s back in Van for a short visit, I decided to bake him a cake with ganache for the sweet tooth!
I’m glad he liked the cake! He’s bringing it home to his family today. hehehe..
This is my second submission to Aspiring Bakers #18: Layers of Love (April 2012), a “Layered Cake” event I’m hosting this month! Please check it out if you’d be interested in participating too!! Deadline is on the end of April!