For the past week, I have been reading up every night, on how to make chiffon cakes without using any leavening agent. In the past, all my chiffon cakes were made with either baking powder or self-raising flour. I have copied several recipes from this chiffon cookbook '戚风蛋糕秘法传授' which I borrowed from a close one some time back. The recipes from this book do not use any baking powder. I wonder how it is possible to create the volume as the ingredients are similar to most chiffon recipes. Even the number of egg whites used is not that many. Some recipes will call for 4 whites and 3 yolks even though baking powder is used. For a 17cm tube pan, the recipes from this book call for 110g whites (about 3 whites for eggs that weigh 65g with shells on) and 40g yolks (about 2 and a half yolks). For my usual chiffon recipes, I use 3 egg whites and 3 yolks, not much difference isn't it?
The only unique thing is, corn flour is added when beating the egg whites. I don't know the chemistry behind, but I guess corn flour helps to stabilise the egg whites so that upon folding with the yolk mixture, it won't deflate too much? and also probably helps the whites to stablise and expand during baking? Pardon the 'jargon' used here, unless you are familiar with making a chiffon cake, all these may sound alien to you ;)
Many Chinese bloggers (from Taiwan, China) have baked beautiful chiffon cakes without baking powder, reading their tips and step by step illustrations posted on their blogs gave me the very much need assurance that I shouldn't fare too badly. I went ahead to give it a go even though I have never been good at baking chiffon cakes (^^")
I picked up this chocolate and nut chiffon recipe as I find that it is quite unusual to bake a chiffon with toppings. Wouldn't the weight of the toppings prevent the cake from rising? Wouldn't the toppings sink into the batter during baking?
I didn't use the exact toppings since besides walnuts, I do not have apricots, cashew nuts or pistachios. So, I used my granola combo...walnuts, dried cranberries and rolled oats.
Reading up tips and do's and dont's is one thing, putting everything into practise is another. Alas, I didn't do a good job while folding the whites to the yolk batter :_(
I deflated most of the egg whites (which was whisked to a nice, glossy texture! yeah!!) while trying to break up the lumps of whites trapped in the batter, maybe the whites were too stiff?? The cake rose well above the rim half way into baking. But, it was a short-lived glory. The cake started shrinking even before the baking time was up. It only managed to hover around the rim of the pan, ***sigh***
The texture of the cake was pretty good though. The crumb was tender, moist and springy :):)
Despite the long baking time, the walnuts did not get burnt. In fact it was very nicely roasted. This cake, which I shall name it as Granola Chiffon
, is an excellent choice for breakfast. What better way to have some oats in your diet without forcing yourself to swallow a bowl of oat porridge? Besides the nutty toppings, chopped dark chocolates was added in the batter. It makes the cake taste even better!
One downside of making chiffon cakes with toppings is, upon inverting the pan to cool the cake, some toppings (those that did not come into direct contact with the batter) dropped all over the table. Anyway, it is a small matter, I picked up the pieces and put them in my mouth ;)
I will try another recipe, I hope I will get the folding right the next time. Wish me luck!
Granola Chiffon Cake
(for 17cm or 7" tube pan)
(measurements in brackets are for 20cm or 8" tube pan)
110g (180g) egg whites* (cold from fridge)
55g (90g) caster sugar
5g (10g) corn flour
40g (70g) egg yolks*
36g (60g) water
36g (60g) vegetable oil
9g (15g) cocoa powder
42g (70g) cake flour
10g (20g) sugar
60g (100g) dark chocolate**, chopped into cubes
15g (25g) walnuts, coarsely chopped
15g (25g) dried cranberries
15g (25g) rolled oats
(* use fresh eggs, and cold egg whites. Remove eggs from fridge and separate them just before using.
** cut the chocolates into small cubes, around 0.5~1 cm, so that they won't sink too much in the batter, and yet they shouldn't be too small till they melt away during baking.)
Recipe source: 戚风蛋糕秘法传授 by Noriko Ozawa
- Sieve cake flour, set aside. Sieve corn flour, set aside.
- Place egg yolks, water, vegetable oil and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer (I used a manual hand whisk), whisk the mixture till well combined. Sieve over the cake flour and whisk till the flour is fully incorporated into the batter. Add in sugar, whisk to combine.
- In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Turn to high speed and gradually beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until soft peaks forms. Add in the corn flour together with the last tablespoon of sugar. 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. The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly.)
- With a spatula, gently fold in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture until just blended. Repeat with 1/2 of the remaining egg white. Finally, pour the resulting batter to the remaining egg white. Fold in to combine. Next, fold in the chopped chocolates.
- Pour batter into a 17cm tube pan (do not grease the pan). Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter. Sprinkle walnuts, dried cranberries and rolled oats over the surface.
- Bake in pre-heated oven at 160 degC for 35 mins, (for 20cm pan bake for 50 mins) or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (When lightly pressed the cake will spring back). Remove from the oven and drop the pan at a height of 20~30cm onto a table top. This action helps to keep the springy texture of the cake when it is left to cool.
- Invert the pan immediately and let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove the cake.