Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

The following is my "go to" fancy cake. It isn't all that complicated to make, although you do need to know how to separate eggs and successfully beat the whites to a stiff peak. There are two separate frosting applications, a base of chocolate poured over the top and a drizzle of plain white confectioner's sugar icing applied in swirls to the top only. A knife is then dragged lightly through the frosting from the center of the cake outwards, to make pretty swirls.

Really, not as complicated as it sounds.

Rather, not complicated if you truly know how to bake.

I noticed as I was putting this into the cookbook software that the directions assume you already know certain things about baking - how things react to one another, how to optimally separate eggs, why you really should use cake flour (but see the substitution notes I've added at the end) and how to cool a cake made in a tube pan.

So many of the recipes I've seen over the last several years are dumbed down, as if the author expects that the reader has only a rudimentary understanding of basic culinary principles. This is much more a factor in cooking recipes rather than baking, but it can be found in both. We've become a nation of people who consider themselves "foodies", but don't have the ability to cook.

(A pet peeve about recipe publication concerns those that have not been proofread - where you often find an additional ingredient embedded in the directions, or, alternatively, have an ingredient you are never instructed to use. Why yes, I'm looking at you, Taste of Home.)

Read the directions all the way through first, then give this cake a try. As written, it produces a light, tender, chocolaty but not too sweet gem of a cake. Deviate from the recipe at your own peril.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

     3/4   cup  milk
     2/3   cup  unsweetened cocoa powder
  1 3/4   cups  cake flour -- sifted
  1 1/2   cups  granulated sugar
  1         tablespoon  baking powder
  1         teaspoon  salt
     1/2   cup  vegetable oil
  7         each  egg -- separated
  2         teaspoons  vanilla
     1/2   teaspoon  cream of tartar

Chocolate frosting
  3         tablespoons  butter
     1/3   cup  unsweetened cocoa powder
  3         tablespoons  water
  1 1/2   cups  confectioner's sugar
     1/2   teaspoon  vanilla

Confectioner's sugar icing
     1/2   cup  confectioner's sugar
  1         tablespoon  milk
     1/8   teaspoon  vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.

To prepare cake batter, scald milk in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir in cocoa until thoroughly blended. Set aside to cool. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add, in order, oil, egg yolks, milk-cocoa mixture and vanilla. Beat until smooth. In a large bowl, with electric mixer, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until they form very stiff peaks. Gently fold into cake batter, one-fourth at a time, just until blended. Pour into ungreased 10" tube pan. Bake 65 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean and cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert and cool thoroughly in pan. Loosen edges and turn out into serving plate.

To prepare chocolate icing, melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in cocoa, then water. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in confectioner's sugar and vanilla. If necessary, add a little hot water to make icing of spreading consistency.

To make confectioner's sugar icing, stir together confectioner's sugar, milk and vanilla.

Pour chocolate icing over cake, allowing it to drip down sides. Immediately drizzle confectioners sugar icing in circles around top of cake. Before icing sets, draw a knife through icing from center of cake toward edge at 1 1/2 to 2" intervals to feather the icing.

NOTES : To substitute all purpose flour for cake flour:
1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all purpose flour less 2 tablespoons.
Therefore,  1 3/4 cups cake flour = 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour less 3 1/2 Tablespoon (10 1/2 tsp)

An alternative is to replace the removed all purpose in the above equation with
cornstarch, which may actually be a better substitution. All purpose has more
gluten, and the cake will be tougher and not as light. Cornstarch helps dilute that.

It's easier to just buy the cake flour.

Serves 12.


Sarah said...

Sorry to nit pick, but shouldn't 3 1/2 tablespoons equal 10 1/2 teaspoons?

Otherwise it sounds divine, I think I'll give it a shot.

Diane said...

You are right - I'll change it (math is, oddly, not always my strong suit :)

It is quite a luscious cake!