Friday, 28 October 2011

Another lesson learned...

With the on-going year end school exams, the school term for the year is drawing to a close. As usual,  at this time of the year, I try to stay away from the 'baking and blogging world' so that I could divert my attention to coach my children in their studies.

Ever since I quit my job to stay at home to look after the kids, I have been treating the scores on their report cards as my annual performance review. Any favourable comments from teachers on my children's behavour and conduct in school, plus whatever little achievements they have accomplished for the year will be treated as bonus points. Of course, I won't be penalised if they don't do well in their studies, neither will I get a fat bonus or increment if they have achieved excellent academic results. Not that I am expecting any rewards in return, but their academic performance is the only way for me to judge whether I have done my part as a stay-at-home-mum. If they don't do well, I will feel that it is my fault. I know, it sounds silly, but, for the time being this is the only yardstick for me to evaluate whether I have put in my best effort to guide my children. It also serves as a warning sign, if they don't do well, I better cut down my time spent on the blogosphere ;)

Ok, enough of ranting, let me bring you to my recent bake...

Well, I hope you won't get bored with yet, another chiffon cake post! I can't help but to share with you this not-so-clear image of the cake baking in the oven. The cake ballooned as the clock ticked made my ego swell at the same rate as I watched the cake rose and bloomed nicely. 

In the midst of helping my younger child to prepare for his exams, I am also trying my best to clear away as many ingredients as possible since we will be away during the school holidays. I finally put my hands together to make this Sakura Chiffon cake as the preserved sakura and sakura paste my dear cyberfriend VB gave me many months back was near expiring.

The sakura flowers were preserved with salt, but even though I soaked them for 30mins, the petals still tasted a little salty. Don't ask me how does sakura smell like...I wasn't able to detect any floral fragrant, not during baking or when the cake was left to cool. Except for the slight salty taste (not the salted fish or salted vegetables kind of salty), the cake tasted like an ordinary sponge cake, or 鸡蛋糕. Sad to say, the sakura paste or sakura essence, did not add any flavour to it, it did not even add any colour to it. I had imagined that the pinkish essence would turn the batter into a nice pinky batter...but no, it has no effect at all :(

Although I was quite disappointed with the sakura, I did manage to learn something from this bake. I have actually made two chiffon cakes, the first one was meant to be a trial. With the lesson learned from the first attempt, I baked the same cake again and gave it away.

For the first cake, I followed the ingredients amount as stated in the recipe, ie 50ml vegetable oil and 50ml water. However, I noticed the yolk batter was quite thick, and I deflated the whites a little while trying to mix the two together. The finished cake was not as airy or fluffy as the fruit tea chiffon I made earlier. I compared the two recipes and decided to change the water-oil amount. So, for the second sakura cake, I used 40ml oil and 60ml water, just like the fruit tea chiffon. The yolk batter was not as thick, and I could fold in the whites easily. The second cake rose tall and mighty. Even though I wasn't able to taste it, I am confident that the texture would be quite similar to the fruit tea version.

These slices were from the first cake...the texture was not as moist and tender as the fruit tea ones, mainly because I have deflated the whites. If I ever have the chance to make this again, I will likely add matcha powder to enhance the flavour.

Nevertheless, it was another good baking experience for least now I know, the petals that were lined on the base of the tube pan would remained intact, they were not buried or covered by the batter. Without using any special tools or taking extra care, I didn't even rid them off while I was unmoulding the cake from the pan. Till now, I still find this rather amazing!

Sakura Chiffon Cake

(for 7" tube pan)

3 egg yolks (use large eggs*)
20g caster sugar
40ml vegetable oil (original recipe use 50ml)
60ml water (original recipe use 50ml)
1 teaspoon sakura paste (original recipe use dried sakura leave powder)

80g cake flour

4 egg whites (use large eggs*)
50g caster sugar

some preserved sakura

(*I used eggs with a nett weight of 55g, about 20g yolk, 35g white)

  1. Rinse the preserved sakura to remove any excess salt. Leave to soak for 30mins. Drain and pat dry on paper towels. Line the dried sakura petals on the base of a 7" chiffon tube pan. Set aside.
  2. Sieve flour and set aside. 
  3. Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl. With a manual hand whisk, whisk the yolks a little. Add in sugar and whisk to combine.
  4. Add in vegetable oil gradually, whisk to combine. 
  5. Add in water gradually, whisk to combine. Add in sakura paste, whisk to combine. Sieve over the flour and whisk till the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over mix. Set aside.
  6. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a handheld electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy.  Add half of the sugar amount and turn to high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage.The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter.)
  7. Add the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  8. Pour batter into the prepared pan (do not grease the pan). Smooth the top with a spatula if necessary. Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter. (Note: the finished batter should be thick and airy, and should be able to fill up the pan to about 90% full or not less than 2cm below the rim)
  9. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degC for 30 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, when lightly pressed the cake will spring back. Invert the pan immediately and let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife or a off-set spatula around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife/off-set spatula along the base of the pan to remove the cake.
Recipe source: adapted from 好吃戚风蛋糕轻松上手, 福田淳子


Kat said...

I think you did a great job. Chiffon cakes can be a little tricky. Have a wonderful weekend.

Anonymous said...

hi HHB, i can never get bored with chiffon cakes.
this sakura chiffon cake looks so lovely. i noticed that no baking powder and cream of tartar is used. Most recipes i come across has them. Doesn't it make any difference?

Happy Flour said...

I agreed with you too. During the examination period I felt very stressful and if my boy didn't do well in his papers, I will put the blame on myself. So I usually bake and surf blog in the morning when they are schooling. Hope kids understand mother's love. We sacrifice but we don't ask for return.

Happy Homebaker said...

Kat, thanks for your encouragement. I always have problem with beating egg whites, and then folding it to the yolks. I am still struggling ;)

Hi Anonymous, yes there is no baking powder or cream of tartar. I think if the recipe is good (ie the ingredients amount is the right balance), and the whites are beaten to the correct stage, and don't deflate the batter while folding the whites to the yolk batter, you don't need to use baking powder. Cream of tartar is not necessary at all.

Happy Flour, I understand your exact feeling. I will also blame myself. I think only a mother's love is unconditional, they will probably know only when they have their own kids.

cherry potato said...


happy-bowl said...

you are so innovative HHB...:-)

ping said...

That is actually quite pretty, with those little petals. Very much like a classic porcelain plate design.

Passionate About Baking said...

Beautiful sakura chiffon cake you've got! You're such a responsible mother! Being in the corporate world for a while, you actually give yourself KPIs based on your children's results! I'm sure you were always there when your children needed you! To me, you're such a wonderful mother, 24/7 mum! Kudos to your commitment. I'm sure they did very well under your watchful eyes! :)

Anonymous said...

Dear HHB, I can so relate to what you are going through during the exam period and the results part.. hehe, and sometimes people and my MIL will make not so nice comments when our kids don't do well... So ,Jia you to us all, let's give one another a good pat on our shoulders.. we have done our best!
Love, cupcake

yin said...

Hi, nice chiffon! I baked a pandan chiffon today too, but I don't know why my chiffon alwasys starts to shrink while still in the oven... when I cut the cake, the top part was very light and soft, but the bottom(which is acutally the top) was dense... can you advise? thanks.

Cuisine Paradise said...

Another beautiful chiffon cake you have over there and i am sure those sakura will add extra flavour to this lovely cake. Thanks for sharing your thoughts as a SAHM, i do feel the same as what mentioned in your 1st para and at time i also thought of giving out blogging as it did takes up part of my time with my kid too. But i think you have done a great job b/w your hobby and your family :)

Anonymous said...

Hi hhb, that's a very pretty chiffon cake. I have tried one chocolate chiffon from simply hanushi that doesnt use any cream of tartar or baking powder. The texture of the cake was very soft and fine. I am using this recipe for all my chiffon cakes now. Amy

Hearty Bakes said...

I share your sentiments HHB. From our exchange, I know you will score with flying colours for your own report card for the effort you put in and time you spent with your boys. Kudos to you! You are one I look up to.
My boy's dreadful exam will be over after Wed, still ongoing baking over my side cos that's one way to destress for me. Let's look forward for our well deserved holiday after that :)
I have baked various chiffon but not this. I love how it looks, so pretty. Will want to try this during the holi.

yesicanbake said...

I know my brothers are in about to have exams, but I have no idea what kind of energy food they would like...preferably something like a chiffon cake would be nice. But after my last chiffon cake experience, I don't know if I can try again...after going through your tips, I think I should give it another try.

Happy Homebaker said...

cheery potato, thanks! Credit goes to the sakura :)

happy bowl, nah, I simply follow the recipe from the book ;)

ping, this is a classic case of "好看不好吃", lol!

Hi Jane, I always make myself 'there' even when not needed! I am quite a uptight mum...yes, I do supervise them like a hawk, haha! I am keeping my fingers crossed that they don't do too badly.

Cupcake, precisely, I do not want to invite unwanted comments, so I have to make sure they work double hard and at the same time display good behaviour and manners. Actually I am the one who is at fault, setting my own standard and expectation on my kids so that I won't be regarded as a lousy mother. I got no one but myself to blame...

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Yin, I suspect it is due to your oven temperature. I have the same problem with my old 20L tabletop oven, the temperature dropped when I put in the pan.

Make sure your oven is very well get an oven thermometer if you have not done so. Do Not Open the oven while the chiffon cake is baking. For my recent bakes, I usually bake at 180degC for 30mins (17cm pan). So far, this is the best temp and baking time. If a recipe recommends 170degC, I think the temp is too low.

When the baking time is almost up, my cake also started to shrink a little, upon cooling, it shrank even more, but it was still slightly above the rim of the pan.

As for the dense layer, you could have under baked can try to extend the baking time for a couple of minutes, the crust should be nicely browned, not pale. The other possible cause could be the pan size, do use the right pan size for the recipe. I have very lengthy discussions on this issue with my cyberfriend VB, she encountered this slightly dense layer when she tried making the pandan cake from the ieatishootipost blog. She has no problem with other recipes and she is an expert in making all sorts of chiffon cakes. She tried several times, and finally she managed to get rid of the problem after she use another pan size.

Hope you are not put off by my long winded comment!

Happy Homebaker said...

Ellena, no, the sakura has got no taste ;) I understand, I have also been wanting to give up blogging...but every time when I have success with a recipe, I can't help but to share it in my blog. We just need to strike a balance in whatever we do.

Jessie, I think too highly of me ;) I am quite a lazy mother, haha! Will be going away the entire school holidays, so I am spending most of my time cleaning the house and clearing the studies for the next school year. Hopefully I have time to bake when I am overseas ;)

bluebakeblogger, hope you won't give up making chiffon cakes, I am still struggling with it, practice makes perfect :)

yin said...

Hi, thanks for the reply and the details.Of course I am not put off, I really appreciate your help and advice. I must thank you! I also suspect it's the oven temp and yes, I baked at 170C, so maybe that explains it. You mentioned about the pan size. So the dense layer could be due to my pan is too small? I used 3 eggs for my 6" pan, is that too small? Sorry for asking so many questions.

Happy Homebaker said...

hi yin, I am not sure whether yours is really due to the pan size...from the recipes that I came across, 6" pan only requires 2 eggs, did you have leftover batter? Maybe you can try fill the pan to only 90% full, and bake the leftover in a paper muffin cup? I am no expert in baking, I have never attended any baking class, not even demo classes. Everything is self taught. So what I have suggested is based on my own experience and discussions with my friend. It may or may not work. Hope you understand.

Ellie P. said...

Hello! I love chiffon cakes but never have the time to make them! Yours looks lovely. I will have to try it when I have some spare time. :)

Yummy Bakes said...

Wow beautiful creation. Very tall chiffon ....

Joceline said...


yin said...

ok, I understand. Thanks for your advice. I will try to bake at a higher temperature and try out. Sorry, can I know where did you buy your oven thermotmeter? Guess I got to get one too.Thanks!

Happy Homebaker said...

Ellie P., hope you get to try making a chiffon cake someday, it looks simple but is quite challenging.

Joceline, thanks!!

yin, I got mine from Phoon Huat, about $12+ if I remember it correctly. Do get the oven thermometer before you make the chiffon cake.

pansy said...

hi :) dunno if i post went through. so testing again.. very pai sei

Cosy Bake said...

Your Sakura cake looks very pretty as yellow and pink give that sweet and gentle feel.
I have baked the same chiffon cake using the same recipe before. And used the Sakura leave powder as the recipe called. It does give that sourish sour plum taste , so the Sakura flowers didn't really give much to the whole cake. And the colour of my Sakura cake was a little bit to the green side.

yin said...

Yes, I went to get one already today. Can't wait for my next trial... ha ha.. thanks alot for the help

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Honey boy, yes I saw your lovely sakura chiffon when you posted it :) I am sure yours taste great!

yin, I am looking forward to hearing good news from you :):)

Anonymous said...

Your chiffon looks so soft, I did bake a chiffon cake but mine also abit dense, did you use the fan function, I mentioned to you before I am the one with the new Zannusi Oven, also when baking bread I did not use the fan function but the base of my bread was abit wet & I suspect it could be the oil that I greased on the aluminium pan, it was quite abit as I was afraid it sticks to it, will try using non-stick pan in future.

pansy said...

hi happy home baker, i have a small kitchen and family too! how many pans do you have? which are the essentials one that i ought to buy?

i've also been looking for a chiffon pan without legs like yours! is your 6 in and 7 in pan from phono huat? the materials looks good! love the fact that they don't have feet.

thank you!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi, I don't use the fan function for baking chiffon, I only use fan function when I need to bake two trays. You may want to try line your tray with parchment paper instead of greasing it with oil.

Hi pansy, the chiffon pan is 17cm (as stated on the label), but I think it should be 18cm. I have a few basic baking pans, a 7" round pan with removable base, an 8" normal round pan, an 8" square pan, 1 baking tray, a pullman tin, a loaf pan, a tart pan and this new chiffon pan, these are my collections over the past 5 years :) You may want to start with a round pan with a removable base (can get from PH) and a baking tray. The others you can get them as and when you need them in future. Hope this helps :)

pansy said...

thanks so much!

is your 7in/18cm new chiffon pan from PH and does it have a removable base? i saw your older pic and the tube part was removable! do u remember where the old pan is from?

my thinking is that the smaller the pan, hopefully the chiffon will rise more!

also do you oil your new pans or prepare them in some ways. i love the brown bits of your cake but the one i tried ( with friend ) had very pale sides after cutting up, also, the cake did not raise at all.

Anonymous said...

this is so nice cake i want to eat it a lot. it is one of my favorite foods. thanks foe this post.
Good foods and drinks of our world

Wonder of my world

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi pansy, yes, it comes with a removable base...the old pan is also from PH.

No, it is best to use the appropriate pan size or as per recommended by the recipe. If the egg whites is beaten to the correct stage, and the batter is not deflated after folding the yolk and white mixture, the cake will rise nicely. The finished batter has to be thick, airy, and not thin and runny. When pouring the finished batter into the pan, it will leave ribbon like trail...that is, you will need a spatula to spread the surface to smooth it out...if the batter is thin, it will spread evenly, which also means the batter has been deflated. Hope you know what I mean.

No, I dont oil or prepare them in any way. Maybe you can try extend the baking time...I usually bake my chiffon cakes at 180degC for 30mins for pan size 17cm. Hope this helps :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind advise, I will try using parchment paper the next time, my bread flour is kept in the fridge, also do not know if that is the cause of the bread being abit wet at the base. TQ.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I love the Sakura petals on your cake, they're lovely!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi, I keep my bread flour in the fridge if I don't intend to use up soon...I didn't have problem with the wet base though.

pansy said...

thank you so much happy home baker for your advice. i spent last night reading through your blog and your pictures make me want to try bread! terrible, i should concentrate on one thing at a time!

are you still using the bread maker from Bluesky @ S$69.90? i saw that in one of your comment replies. if i am thinking of getting a bread machine, what will you recommend?

Taikinakoneet Paistouuni said...

For me giving a best advice for your child is part of being a mom and baking like that is make's me feel hungry :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi pansy, my bread maker went kaput two years ago, I have not been able to find a cheap replacement. Those available are in the range of above $200.
I have since been making kneading by hand. But have not been able to do so due to a chronic pain on my shoulder.
Maybe you would want to invest in a heavy duty standing mixer which is powerful enough for kneading bread dough. Many bloggers use a standing mixer, eg KitchenAid. For me, I am too stingy to spend over $800 for a machine ;)

Bunnies said...

Hi, where did you get the preserved sakura flower and sakura essence from?

Your cakes are always very encouraging to me.. they make me happy! Hehehe

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your kind advise, so the bread flour in the fridge is not a probelm, maybe I think I have to adjust to my new oven, cos I follow closely to the recipe temperature in baking bread but was the top brown faster & maybe the base is not fully bake yet. Anyway, thanks alot.

Happy Homebaker said...

Bunnies, as written in my blog post above, my friend in HK gave them to me.

pansy said...

hi happy home baker! i tried 3 of your recipes since the 5th! the milk bread, the sweet bun and the crunchy peanut butter! the bread is better than i expected although i have a few questions

1) my bun does not have the lovely shiny look of yours. it's rather white...

2) the bread is sooo heavy in weight! the store bought loafs are so much lighter! the texture is pretty ok though. is this to be expected?

i made the sweet bun by hand *sweat*!

Carrefour is now selling a breadmaker for $128 ^_^

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi pansy,
1) for the sweet bun, did you brush the surface with egg wash? If yes, it should appear shiny after baking. I actually don't like the shiny surface, since then, I usually don't apply egg wash. The other factor could be your bread buns were under baked? The surface should be golden brown. Do use an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is preheated to the right temperature.

2) for the Milk loaf, it shouldn't be heavier than commercial bread loaf, since the amount of flour used is only 250g. The texture is quite soft and light. As for the peanut butter loaf, I followed a western bread machine cookbook, those recipes tend to produce loaves that are denser and heavier than asian type of bread. The amount of flour used is 450g for that recipe. So it may weigh many many times heavy than a commercial loaf.

I hope you understand that homemade bread is never the same as commercial there is no addictives to extend shelf life or bread improver (addictives) to produce texture that is very light and soft.

Thanks for the info on the breadmaker...I am still too cheapskate to spend that much ;)

Pansy said...

Thank you. I will buy a thermometer this weekend.

The peanut butter and Hokkaido milk bread are amazing. My family ate the entire loaf of milk bread immediately. Thanks for sharing :)

Do u have a good recipe for banana bread for bread machine ? Like the gardenia banana raisin one? Thank you

Culinary Collage said...

What a beautifully elegant cake!

yin said...

Hi, HHB! Remember the last time I told you I bought the oven thermometer from PH already? The first time, I tried to adjust the temperature so that the thermometer shows 170C. So when the temperature falls, I turned the knob higher. In the end, the cake was a flop, collapsing when I unmould it. The next time, I made sure that the temperature was 170C when the cake was put in the oven. After 15 mins, I lower the the knob to 160C so that the oven temperature was 150C and baked a further 25 mins. The cake still started sinking while inside and the bottom (when unmoulded) was moist. CAn you please advise? thanks!

Happy Homebaker said...

hi yin, not sure why do you need to turn down the temp to bake at 150degC? Is it stated in the recipe? I usually bake my chiffon (7") at 170-180degC. I suspect 150degC is too low?? If the base is still moist, then you have under baked it. I have problem of shrinking too...either because of the temperature or the beating of the whites. Hope you are not discouraged by it...practise makes perfect, keep trying and I am sure one day you will be able to bake a perfect chiffon cake.

yin said...

Hi Happy HOmebaker, thanks for your reply. Ya, I read in some of the books to lower the temperature after the top starts to crack. I have also tried baking at 170C all throughout but it still shrank while in the oven... I am really discouraged because I have experimented a few times but can't seem to detec what is the problem. Perhaps next time I will try to bake at 180C all throughout and see how it will turn out. I hope I will be able to bake a nice chiffon like yours. Thanks for your encouragement.

Happy Homebaker said...

hi Yin, I hope to hear good news from you soon!

Nicolas said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe. I just created a list of the best recipe with sakura and added your cake too and linked back to your blog:

Happy Home Baking!