Saturday, March 15, 2014

strawberry mousse chiffon cake - brought to you from the mystical lands of atlanta!

Chiffon sounds interesting right? I bet it was the only reason why clicked this link. Well sorry to disappoint you but, a chiffon cake is nothing but a sponge cake in French. Disappointing right…wait, I bet you don’t even know how to make a sponge cake. Hypocritess ;) This cake is light and fluffy, layered with my Five-Second Strawberry Mousse, and covered with whipped cream. For the holidays I flew to Atlanta to see how the great bakers there bake their cakes, and to also share this delicious chow-fection to the entire world (otherwise known as the 5 people who have visted this blog and my immediate family). The recipe demonstrated in this blogpost is none other than of famous Chinese chef, Victor Hsu, also known as my uncle, and also referred to as “who is that guy?” Well you would be right, he is a nobody, but there’s one thing he is known for, Chiffon Cakes. After smuggling from Taiwan the secrets to making perfectly light, fluffy chiffon, he perfected it with his own mad scientific flair. Littered below are his many pro tips on how to make a perfect chiffon cake that will surely impress your relatives and friends this holiday season. So without two twists of a peacock’s feathers let’s get bakin’ so we can get cakin’.

Uncle Vic begins his recipe by weighing out his
 dry and wet ingredients. For me I don't have a digital scale, or any scale for that matter, so in the recipe below I converted all the measurements to volume, however a part of me agrees that weight measurements would be more precise. Once your mise en place is complete we can begin to mix the meringue for the cake. The thing with a chiffon cake is that it doesn't have baking soda nor baking powder in the batter. For a cake to rise you need one of the two components, a mechanical leavener, or a chemical leavener. Usually in cakes and cookies we add baking soda or powder, these are called chemical leaveners. When they are baked they cause a chemical reaction in the batter that rises the cake. In things like puff pastry, or chiffon cake there are certain components in the dessert that cause it to rise. In puff pastry it is because of all the layers of fat and flour that expand when they're stack on top of each other. In chiffon cakes the air pockets in the meringue expand with steam causing the cake to rise. These are called mechanical leaveners. 

To make the meringue we will begin to whip our egg whites. Gradually add in 7 tablespoons of sugar when the whites are frothy and continue to beat until they reach stiff peaks. Just look at the picture. Set the bowl aside so we can make the base of our cake. 

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until they are ribbon-like and pale. This is called blanchiring and it will make sure that our batter is smooth and lump free. Add the juice of about a quarter of a lemon to brighten the cake and lemon zest to showcase that lemon flavor. You could also use a teaspoon of lemon extract if fresh lemons are not in season. Drizzle in veggie oil to ensure that the cake is moist and tender. Add in the water. As you all know water and oil do not combine. If you're batter looks like it's split do not be alarmed, once we add in the dry ingredients everything will mix perfectly. In a separate bowl I want you to combine milk powder, cake flour, and salt until it is lump-free and add it into the cake. 

Stir till it is just combined. We don’t want to over work this, especially when we add in the meringue. You worked so hard for those delicate air bubbles in the meringue, take some care when you go through these final steps. The cake will continue to mix as we fold in the meringue so keep that in mind while you think about over mixing the cake. Begin by taking a third of the egg whites and mixing it into the batter. This helps to loosen the batter before we fold in the rest of the whites. Now comes the handiwork. Gently, gently fold in the meringue scraping from the bottom of the bowl around to the top, letting the bottom batter drop onto the top batter. Continue until almost all of the whites have disappeared. 

If you haven’t before, preheat the oven to 360. Lightly grease an 8x8 spring form pan and pour the batter in. Tap the cake on your countertop to release the bubbles trapped under the surface. This also makes sure that your cake rises evenly and the batter touches all of the corners of the pan. Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out cleanly. 

Uncle Vic taught me a pro tip that he learned in Taiwan. To defend against deflated and or concaved centers, while the cake is cooling flip it over on a wire rack. Because the cooler denser air surrounding the cake is much heavier than the hot airy cake center of the Chiffon, these types of cakes are notorious for their crater-like centers. By flipping the cake over you prevent gravity from making you look like a fool when you go to serve. But it probably won’t even matter because we'll be covering this entire cake with whipped cream anyways so who would know. You know what, you would know, and so would I, so don’t forget this critical step. Let it cool completely before you unmold it. The best would be overnight in the fridge. 

This cake is thick enough to slice into three layers. I suggest getting one of these turntables for perfect slicing and decorating. Even if you’re like me and cannot decorate for your life, it still makes it a lot easier to mess up your cake faster. So using a serrated knife go around the cake to make sure you have straight level layers. Once you are positive that every layer is perfect go ahead and color in the picture. For some reason slicing a cake reminds of those simpler days when I used spend my days in coloring books. Like for example...two days ago when I was scribbling in my favorite Toy Story coloring book, I first outlined Woody’s shoes before fully coloring inside the picture. It’s the same way with a cake, you have to outline before you cut. I'm not sure if you get the analogy but you get the idea. Now it's time to make the strawberry mousse.

This is my Five Second Strawberry Mousse. The first step is going to the store and buying a can of strawberry topping. You can find this in the pie filling aisle. Normally I wouldnt use this stuff but I think for something like this, where you've just baked an entire cake, this would be a necessary shortcut. The second step is using some of this non-dairy whip topping. 

It's similar to a cool whip except in liquid form. Actually if you could buy real heavy cream and make your own whipped cream, but this is all we had and it’s like ten times cheaper. Whip until stiff peaks, and fold in your strawberry topping. Use as much strawberry topping as you want, or until its to the color you want. If you're feeling daring, you could add fresh strawberries to the mix to cut that richness. And that's done! Now you can layer your cake. 

Take the bottom layer and spread on enough strawberry mousse to barely touch the edge. Remember when you stack up the layers the weight is going to squeeze some of the mousse to the edges so only spread the mousse barely to the edge. Repeat with the next layer. When you go to stack up the final layer flip the layer upside down so it has that professional inverted shape. Cover with regular white topping. You can use cool whip, whipped cream, frosting, or any like thing you can think of. Be creative, this cake is all up to the limits of your imagination. You can sprinkle on nuts or garnish with strawberries, even drizzle with chocolate. And you don’t have to layer it with strawberry mousse, you can make whatever filling you wanted. Like I said think outside of the box and let your wildest dreams run loose. After all if it taste terrible just drop it on the potluck table at your next get together and no one will even say a word. 

But that is it for this chow-fection. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, or hannakuh, I hope I spelled that right, I’m sure there are like 20 different spellings of that holiday. Anyways I hope you make this cake for New Years, and from the bottom of our Chowfectionary Studios family (me, myself, and I), I want to wish you all a happy, wonder-filled new years.
 And as always, 



Lemon Chiffon Cake
3/4 cup of cake flour
5 egg whites
4 egg yolks
4 1/2 tablespoon of milk powder
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
9 tablespoons of granulated sugar divided 
1/4 cup of water
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
a couple tablespoons of lemon juice
the zest of half a lemon

Five-Second Strawberry Mousse
1 cup of whipped topping
1/4 cup or so of strawberry topping

Whipped Topping for outside slathering
Nuts, berries, or other accompaniments are welcomed

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