Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orange Glow Chiffon Layer Cake

I used to dislike chiffon cakes as the texture often was rubbery instead of spongy. In 2005, I tried Rose's Lemon Chiffon Cake in The Cake Bible, and everything I thought I know about chiffon cake was turned on it's head, and rightfully so.

Chiffon cakes tend to be baked in a tube pan so that the middle can get some support and heat. This cake is baked in a springform pan to create a typical layer cake look, and so requires a flower nail to stand in for the center tube. Fascinating!

March 26, 2011
Name of cake: Spongy Orangness
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: an orange sponge cake

So I'm sure I could look this up, but let's just wonder for a moment here. A genoise is a cake that is leavened entirely by eggs, has fat in the form of yolks and butter, is baked in a layer cake pan, and needs to be unmolded right away to prevent the cake from collapsing in itself . An angel food cake is leavened entirely by eggs but has no fat, and is generally baked in a tube pan but can also be made into cupcakes. It needs to be cooled upside down to prevent the cake from collapsing in in itself. A chiffon cake is like a a crazy hybrid: it has a little leavening, fat in the form of yolks and oil, but also relies on well-whipped eggs, needs a tube pan for support and heat distribution (probably to set the egg structure so the cake doesn't fall), and needs to be cooled upside to prevent the cake from falling in on itself. I would think that a cake made with fat and leavening could be made into a layer cake easy-peasy, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Rose and Woody discovered that using a flower nail to replace the center tube and using a tougher flour (unbleached all-purpose) resulted in a lovely orange sponge cake layer.

I completely glossed over the fact that the recipe called for unbleached AP and just used the BAP that I keep around. Oops!

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)
egg yolks, oil, orange juice and zest

The cake is the same cake component we made for the beloved Bostini. The eggs are separated, and the whites are set aside until they get whipped into a fluffy meringue. The yolks are added to oil, orange juice and zest, and whipped with the flour and sugar until nice and ribbony.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

I used the whisk attachment to fold in the meringue, and scraped it all into my 9 inch springform. My springform has a dark exterior so I turned down the oven by 25 degrees, and put the cake on a silpat-lined baking sheet. I heard that would keep the bottom of the cake from burning, which cakes in this pan usually do. I covered the outside in two layers of cake strips as per instructions, and inserted the flower nail I rescued from my mom's Goodwill pile.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

The cake took the full time to bake, and when it came out of the oven, it had risen past the top of the pan!

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

So.....how do I cool this upside down? In the book, Rose says to let it sit upright until the cake sinks down to the level of the pan before inverting to fully cool. Of course, I forgot all about that step. I wished I had some sort of fancy rigging to prop against the outside of the pan to support it above the cooling rack. But instead, I propped the cake pan inside my angel food pan, hoping that it would give the cake enough air circulation so that it wouldn't fall out of the pan.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)
Bakers of the world: DO NOT DO THIS

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

Well, it was a nice thought. The middle of the cake fell out of the pan, so I pieced it back together for photos. Guess I won't be taking this one to Cookie's work.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

Interestingly, the outside of the cake that stayed in the pan has the characteristic light and fluffiness that I have come the expect from a Rose chiffon cake. The middle, the part that fell, is really moist, slightly rubbery, and a little more dense. However that wonderful orange flavor permeates all parts of the cake, saving it from total disaster.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

6 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. Sorry to hear that. It started off so well. Reminds me of my coffee chiffon layer cake. You might enjoy reading about it: http://hanaaskitchen.blogspot.com/2010/04/hcb-coffee-chiffon-cake.html

    I have a todo out to my self to better understand the science behind chiffon (layer) cakes. There is some correlation between the amount of liquid and flour used in the recipe. I know it can be done successfully because I made one for hubby's birthday using a recipe from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle (and I even used cake flour and no flower nail!!!). You can find that here: http://hanaaskitchen.blogspot.com/2011/01/hubbys-birthday-cake.html.

    I calculated the baker's percentages between Tish's and Rose's recipe, and Rose's recipe has a higher liquid-to-flour ratio. Now I have to figure out what that ratio means to the final product. Sorry for my rambling... I just get too excited about these kinds of things :o)

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  2. Opps! (the only thing I can come up upon seeing that picture)...

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  3. Hanaa, your rambling is the super awesome kind about understanding food chemistry so i love it. bring it on! thanks for the reminder about your coffee layer cake. maybe all the extra liquid weakens the cake's structure somehow?

    monica, what you said is a lot more polite then what i said!

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  4. Right. The flour can only absorb so much so the cake collapses. Also, the sugar acts like a liquid ingrdient as well as a tenderizer, neither quality is strengthening the cake's structure. Rose's recipe has a higher sugar_to_flour ratio than the other recipe. To be continued... :o)

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  5. Poor cake...bet it was still yummy though!

    Hanaa - thanks for all the neat info. So cool!

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  6. The good thing about these kind of mistakes is that they still taste good, and then you get to eat them all yourself! I guess that can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it...

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