Un Pastiche

Heart-shaped Chocolate Chiffon Cake for Valentine’s Day

Starting again is always the hardest. It’s been some time since I buckled down to taking photographs of what I was baking and posted a recipe. If you have been following my blog, a real big thank you to you, because I know the past few posts have not been about recipes, and super text-heavy. In fact, the last post which shared a recipe was the Brownie Mosaic Japanese Cheesecake, way back in July 2014! Of course I have a good excuse – if you have been reading my posts, you know I quit my job in September, moved over to Sydney and started patisserie school and part-time school in October. Life has been hectic, and the weeks following the end of basic patisserie were equally busy – in December, I headed to Melbourne for a quick (eating) trip, had a real crazy week at the patisserie I am volunteering at because of Christmas baking, did a crazy load of research for 3 assignments, went home to Singapore for Christmas and took some wedding photos, then jetted off to Tokyo (whee like finally) for a ski and food trip. I got back last week, though it feels like ages ago, and got back into assignment-churning mode and regular life.

Life is still uncertain for now because of iffy visa and employment issues, but I’m taking this as a long extended break. One of my goals during this break is to bake as much as I like, and hopefully earn some money of it (anyone in Sydney hankering after some Chinese New Year goodies? I’m baking pineapple tarts and cookies for sale!), and blog more often. I really want the blog to be an online journal of recipes for myself, and I want to get rid of the horrible mentality that I have – that if I don’t have nice photos, I’m not going to post them on the blog.

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So today I’m going back to basics – the chiffon cake. I am still learning about my oven and how the ingredients here in Sydney ‘feel’. The oven in my new rented apartment is quite small, and no oven is the same, so I’m still getting used to it. Unlike in Singapore or Malaysia where I knew where to get flour, sugar, butter or eggs to suit the products I baked, over in Sydney, I’m back at square one. I’ve finally gotten to the point where my pantry is sufficiently well-stocked, and I can pretty much bake a simple cake or cookie if I feel like. In fact, I bought myself a 12kg pack of baker’s flour because it was cheaper! :P Cake flour in Sydney is strangely expensive for some reason, so I have resorted instead to using plain flour (not baker’s flour) with some corn flour, but as you can see from the photographs, the texture of the chiffon is still quite ‘rough’. I’m going to try sifting the flour the next round to see if it produces a better result – I’m lazy and don’t bother sifting my flour – one thing I’ve learnt from the industry is that no one ever sifts anything!

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Everything you see in the photograph is new – I bought new plates during my Melbourne trip, I scored the lovely red-checkered cloth and dotted fork in Tokyo, and the heart-shaped chiffon tin (not pictured) was bought in Tokyo too! This is the result of months of hankering after a heart-shaped chiffon tin! I did manage to buy one online but the quality is so inferior compared to the Japanese-made one. Suffice to say, I went slightly crazy when shopping for baking ingredients and supplies in Tokyo. I will write a short post on where and what to buy soon!

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This recipe has been in my recipe book for almost two years, and I have made this recipe countless times since then. If you enjoyed my steamed moist chocolate cake (which is one of the more popular recipes on my blog), do give this a go. It’s not as moist as the steamed cake, but it’s way fluffier! Jon commented that the chiffon cake looked so plain, so I dressed up a slice quickly by adding a dollop of cream (cream in Australia is soooooo delicious) and a strawberry (I got 12 250g punnets for A$2. Yes, 12 punnets for $2!!!). With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this would be a perfect thing to make – it’s heart-shaped, it’s chocolate, and there’s strawberries and cream. YUM.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake
 
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 18-cm chiffon tin
 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites (about 140g)
  • 60g castor sugar
  • 50g hot water
  • 30g cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • 4 egg yolks (about 90g)
  • 40g brown sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 50g canola oil (or any flavourless oil)
  • 50g fresh milk
  • 90g plain flour
  • 10g corn flour
Instructions
  1. Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Place egg whites into a clean mixing bowl and begin whisking. Once egg whites form very soft, foamy peaks, add the castor sugar "like rain" into the mixture. Do not dump all the sugar in at once, but instead add the sugar in a drizzle. Continue whisking (if using a kitchenaid, use speed 6) until you get firm peaks.
  2. While the whites are whisking, prepare your chocolate mixture. In another mixing bowl, add 50g of hot water (does not need to be boiling) into the cocoa powder. Mix well, making sure that there are no lumps left. If there are lumps, you will have lumps in your batter later. To this, add the brown sugar, sea salt, canola oil and fresh milk. Add in the egg yolks last, making sure that the mixture is not too hot otherwise the yolks will curdle.
  3. Stir very well. Make sure everything is well incorporated before adding plain and corn flour into the mixture. Stir and make sure there are NO lumps, but do not overmix or you will have a tough chewy chiffon.
  4. At this point, your meringue should be ready. Add a third of the meringue mixture into your chocolate-yolk mixture and fold through thoroughly to loosen the batter. Gradually fold in the remaining meringue mixture (you can do it in two portions or all at once, depending on how confident you are with folding), making sure there are no white streaks.
  5. Pour your batter into a 18-cm round chiffon tin, or a 17-cm heart-shaped chiffon and a small 10-cm round chiffon tin. Right before baking, rap your chiffon tin against the counter lightly to get rid of any large air bubbles that may be trapped while pouring the batter. Do not rap too many times or too hard as you are deflating your meringue mixture!
  6. Bake at 180 degree celsius for about 30-35 minutes. Use a wooden skewer to test at the 30-minute mark to check. Remove from the oven once there are no cake crumbs (or very few) sticking to the skewer. Immediately turn the chiffon pans upside down to cool. Cool for at least an hour before unmoulding.
Notes
Substitutions: I wouldn't recommend any substitutions but additions instead. Feel free to add in chocolate chips or chunks in the batter for a richer chocolate chiffon. Alternatively, you can also add banana slices at the bottom of the cake for a chocolate-banana chiffon (really yummy) or brandied cherries for a black forest inspired cake. Or, do like I did and whip up some cream and garnish with fresh strawberries or cherries or any berries. You can also add frosting all over if you like! Chiffon cakes are super versatile, and chocolate cakes are basically flavour carriers for any fruit or more chocolate sauce!
Taste: Try to use a good cocoa powder, as the flavour really shines through in the chiffon cake. If you like, add a pinch of instant coffee powder to bring out the chocolate taste. Do not leave out the salt!
Texture: It's a very moist chocolate chiffon - it's so moist that it does not even feel like a chiffon cake!
Storage: Chiffon cakes are best eaten within 3 days, as they tend to try out quite quickly after that. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
Would I make this again?: Definitely!

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