Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chiffon cake

Paper wrapped chiffon cakes ... The kind bought from Chinese bakeries .. Light, fluffy and egg-y, they are definitely a childhood favourite! It's been a long held ambition to learn how to make them myself.

After some research on various recipes, most of the Asian sourced recipes include an emulsifier common to households in Asia, but not readily available here. I'm not a fan of adding more chemicals than necessary to my food, and as it was so common in all these recipes, I thought my ambition to make my own paper chiffon cakes had come to end. Luckily, I am also obsessed with all sorts of French baked goodies and I came across a French food blogger who had a chiffon cake recipe that is free of unrecognisable ingredients - just what I was after!

Ingredients I used:
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 large barn laid eggs, separated (from a 700g carton of 12)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 11 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Line 12 waxed paper cups with baking paper (mine were 280ml cups).
  • Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
  • Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. (Cos I'm lazy, I didn't do as suggested and sift it 3 times and found it still turns out okay.)
  • In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks, salt, vanilla extract and 6 tablespoons of sugar until mixture is a pale yellow. Add in oil and water, whisking after each addition.
  • Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk til blended.
  • Using my bright-shiny-red Kitchenaid stand mixer (awesome x'mas present - thanks D!), I beat the egg whites til I got soft peaks, then gradually added 5 tablespoons of sugar until I got stiff peaks. To test whether your peaks are stiff, a fun test is to turn the mixing bowl upside down - if they don't move, your egg whites are stiff!
  • Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten the batter, then fold in the rest of the egg whites.
  • I lined my baking tray with some more baking paper, because previous experience taught me that sometimes the wax from the paper cups melts onto your baking tray and then you have to choose whether to scour your non-stick bakeware or not ... Hmm .. Prevention is always better than cure!
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups and place on baking tray.
  • Put in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Try not to open the oven doors whilst baking, because like soufflés, your chiffon cakes can deflate if the oven suddenly cools down early on in the baking process.
  • Once done take them out and turn the cakes on their heads! This is to minimise shrinkage as they cool down.
  • When they're finally cool, they are ready to be enjoyed!
I've been experimenting with flavour - coffee being a family favorite! - and to do this to the recipe is relatively simple. I've substituted the 1/2 cup of water for 1/2 cup of Illy coffee espresso with some additional grounds to give it an extra kick. Green tea is another flavor I'd be keen to try and classic citrus flavors using zest and juice should work too.

As chiffon cake is relatively low-carb (roughly 2-3 cups of carbs yields roughly 12 cups of cake), low fat (no butter and you can choose a low cholesterol vegetable oil) and has no dairy in it (hence it's popularity in Asia), I think it's a healthier alternative to normal sponge cake. Not that I need another excuse to indulge .. :)

Sugar and spice and all things nice,
la chouquette sucrée


  1. I love these cakes, reminds me of the yolk free angel food type ones I tried in Macau once, you can really taste the egg and vanilla in them undisguised by too much fat and sugar! Love the idea of baking them in paper cups - they didn't burn?

  2. They look fantastic! I love chiffons and sponges (I just made a sponge). And turning it upside down in an interesting tip! :o

  3. No oddly enough they didn't burn .. I've also managed to be environmentally friendly and re-use them! I tried dariole moulds too, but given the volume of the batter, to have them all in dariole moulds would be a crazy expensive exercise.

    The first time I tried the recipe, I didn't turn them upside down and the cakes definitely looked less impressive .. Because of the dariold mould fiasco, I also used my mini cupcake tin ... They looked really sad after shrinking! LOL

  4. You're brave! Chiffon cake is one of those things that I'd rather buy than make... I've never had any luck with my egg whites.

  5. Fabulous idea in flavouring the cake with coffee. I will have to steal that idea, thanks!

  6. If only I could eat eggs! Sigh! Bigger pics next time please!

  7. Beating egg whites can be scary, but armed with some useful tips gleaned from the internet, I managed to get them to go stiff! The most useful tip is to ensure that you're mixing bowl is completely dry and fat-free. I rinse my bowl with some lemon juice and water and make sure it's dry as a bone before putting my egg whites in. I'm also super conservative with the yolks - losing some white in with the yolks is better than letting some fatty yolk ruin your chances of getting your whites to beat properly!

    I love that the flavour is still very subtle in chiffon cakes. But I still think nothing beats the egg-y goodness of plain chiffon cake.

    Watch this space, cos I've been thinking, since our family is plagued with so many different allergies (!!!), I'm going to experiment and try out different recipes like egg-free cakes!