Friday, July 8, 2011

Mocha Chip Chiffon Cake

Things around here are definitely starting to have a winding-down, vacation-is-coming feel to them. Sure, Sami has to go to work every day and I have editing clients with no understanding of academic integrity, but the girls are out of school, the weather is warm at least one out of two days, and I seem to have time to bake.

This cake followed directly on the heels of the ginger cakes, since they disappeared quickly and without a trace. I've had my eye on this recipe for a while--I love the light richness of chiffon cakes, and I love the combination of chocolate and coffee.

So I chopped some chocolate and separated a bunch of eggs and got right to work. Besides the egg separation, chiffon cakes are a breeze. You just mix egg yolks and oil with the dry ingredients...

...until you have a thick, smooth batter, and then you whip the egg whites and fold the whole mess together.

Note my not-very thorough folding together of whites and batter. It didn't seem to be a problem.

Then you hang the cake upside-down on a wine bottle, hoping to heck that it doesn't tip over (note the new kitchen counter!)

And you dig in! Most of this cake went to a graduation event at the girls' school--the parents put on a big soirée with a giant buffet, music, flowers, etc. The cake was not served at the event, but was there to help fuel all the many volunteers who decorated, cut up fruit, cleaned, hauled, etc. Apparently it was well appreciated--at least the container I sent it in came home empty.
But I got to eat a slice or two and definitely recommend this cake. The coffee flavor isn't as pronounced as I would have liked (I might up the instant coffee a bit), but the texture is divine--like angel food but with a bit more oomph. It does go stale kind of fast, so I recommend serving it soon after making it, or at least keeping it well wrapped.

Here's the recipe. Make it when you have time and many mouths to feed.

Mocha Chip Chiffon Cake

2 c. (8 oz.) sifted flour
1-3/4 c. (12.25 oz.) sugar
1 T. powdered instant espresso (maybe a bit more)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. (4 oz.) neutral oil (I used grape seed oil; canola is another good choice)
7 large eggs, separated
1/2 c. (4 oz.) Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur
1/4 c. (2 oz.) cold water
2 t. vanilla
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, cut up into small (1/4-inch) pieces (minichips might work here)
1/2 t. cream of tartar

Heat the oven to 325. Get out an angelfood cake pan--that would be a tube pan with a removable bottom, not nonstick. (If you don't have one, you could see my post about improvising one, although I don't necessarily recommend it...)
You'll need two large mixing bowls: one for your mixer and another one. Put the egg whites in the bowl for the mixer and set aside. Into the other large bowl, sift (I don't normally sift, except for these kinds of cakes) the flour, 1-1/4 cups (8.75 oz.) sugar, coffee, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in these dry ingredients and pour into it, in this order, the oil, the egg yolks, the Kahlúa, the water, and the vanilla. Get out a whisk or rubber scraper and mix together the ingredients until smooth. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
Now it's time to deal with the egg whites: add the cream of tartar to them and beat with the whisk attachment until they get quite foamy. Keep the mixer going while you gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. You want to beat them until quite stiff--Maida says to beat them a minute longer after they become firm. I just got mine to a stiff peak and that seemed to work fine.
Now you need to fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites. Do it about a quarter at a time, folding with your biggest rubber scraper and trying not to be too thorough at each addition. When all is mixed, pour into the tube pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes (mine was done after 55 minutes) or until the top springs back when lightly pressed. The cake will rise a lot and will probably crack. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, invert it onto a (preferably empty) bottle to cool completely. When it has cooled, use a long knife or spatula to cut around the sides. When you've freed the cake from the sides of the cake pan, you'll then need to cut it out of the bottom of the pan as well. There will probably be a lot of "cook's portion" left on the cake pan.
Slice the cake with a serrated knife and serve.

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