Updated: Aug 21
I have made this chiffon cake numerous time and it is the best choice of bakes when you have some ripened bananas in your pantry that you don't know what to use for. If you haven't make chiffon cake before, I have included some tips and tricks for a successful bake.
What is Chiffon Sponge?
Chiffon cake is primarily "air" since it is made from whipping egg whites until they are highly aerated and then folded through a yolk base batter. Some of you may have heard of Angel Food Cake before, which is also a light cake made from aerating egg whites. The difference between Chiffon and Angel Food sponge is that Angel Food Cake only uses the egg whites whereas Chiffon uses the yolk part of the egg as well making it richer in flavour.
What are the steps in making Chiffon
Chiffon Sponge cannot be any easier but there are a few things to bear in mind if you want to avoid from being disappointed. Chiffon Sponge usually involves two separate batter before they are folded together. The first is the egg yolk batter where the yolks are whisked together with flour and sugar and fat (usually vegetable oil or melted butter) until smooth. This is the base batter. The second batter is the "meringue", where you whisk the egg whites together with a second lot of sugar until they become foamy. The two is then folded gently together until they are well incorporated before being poured into the Chiffon Cake Tin to be baked.
A few things you may want to take note if this is your first time making Chiffon Sponge are as follow:
Because Chiffon Sponge are primarily air, it is important to bake them at a reasonable temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. The ideal temperature that works wonder for me all the time is between 160°C - 170°C in a normal home convection oven. If you bake it too low, the air pockets in the egg whites that you have created from whisking will dissipate before it can expand causing the cake to have a low "rise" during baking. If you bake the sponge at too high a temperature, it will rise too rapidly and cause and "explosion" on the top of the cake tin and not to mention this will also give you a very irregular crumb (the little holes in your sponge when you cut it open).
Chiffon cakes crack on the top
Having "cracks" on top of a cake may sound unappealing for most cakes, but in terms for Chiffon Sponge, this is completely acceptable as long as they are not exploding out from the tin. This is because, when the sponge is served, the top are usually going to be the base, so having cracks is no biggie at all.
If you are a perfectionist and wants to base to be the top of your cake, try placing the baking tin at the lowest part of the oven and bake then at a considerably lower temperature.
Using the right baking tin
When making classic chiffon cake, it is recommended that you consider investing in the correct baking tin. The ideal baking tin is the ones that has extended legs overhanging the tin that allows for you to stand it overturned, which is required for cooling baked chiffon sponge to prevent them from collapsing due to its light and airy texture.
Use baking tin that is non non-stick. That's right! If you are thinking about the messy cleaning that you are going to have to deal with, this is just the way for chiffons because non-stick tins will cause the sides of the sponge cake to contract away from the sides easily and shrink dramatically the moment it is removed from the hot oven. The non non stick pan will cause the sponge to stick and hold on to the sides and allows for it to maintain its shape.
This type of sponge tin are actually quite easy to clean, simply soak them in soapy hot water before cleaning and rinsing. I bought mine from ebay.
Do not grease your baking pan
Unlike most cakes that requires you to grease your baking pan with oil or butter to prevent the cake from sticking, Chiffon sponge cakes are quite the opposite. You want the sponge to stick to your pan because this is what that's going to hold on to the light texture of the sponge so that it doesn't slide and sink to the middle.
For the same reason, you should never use a non stick cake pan either for making Chiffon sponge.
Meringue should be medium to firm peak but not stiff
One of the thing that usually contribute to a failed chiffon sponge is usually due to the way the egg whites are whipped. When egg whites are whipped to an airy foam with sugar, they are referred to as a "meringue". The meringue should be whipped to a foam mass that usually triple from its original volume, is light but hold its shape, however it should not be stiff that when you dip your whisk into them they separate like clouds of white clumps.
Stiff meringue not only makes it hard to fold through the egg yolk batters, it also often requires overmixing in order to achieve a well incorporated batter. Overmixing can cause the batter to separate even more which ultimately causes the chiffon cake to collapse because you have either knocked out too much air from the meringue or the water from the egg whites are not holding up and is separating from the egg whites.
Over whisking egg whites is bad, and so does under whipped egg whites. Under no circumstances that the egg whites should be runny or when you try to pick them up with, a whisk, the just run off. This is an indication that you have not created a stable foam in the egg whites and can cause the sponge to collapse during baking as well.
When to add the sugar to the whisking egg whites it crucial
When making meringue, it is important to not add in the sugar straight away before you have created enough foam in the egg whites. This is because the addition of sugar too early causes it hard for the egg whites to foam because of the density it creates. In saying that, sugar is important to stabilise the egg foams by creating a barrier between the egg white foams from connecting and bursting. In other words, sugar cannot stabilise egg white foams if there are no foams to begin with. Therefore, when you are whisking egg whites, make sure to whisk them until they reaches soft peak consistency where you can no longer see any runny egg whites before adding in the sugar a little at a time.
Always remember to start whisking the egg whites on medium speed to create a regular air pocket and once all the sugar has been added, you can increase the speed to high. The reason to this is that if you whisk the egg whites at a speed that is too high initially, this will create irregular size air pockets which can give you a irregular rice in your Chiffon Sponge and the interior crumbs will have some large air holes as well when cut.
Another important thing to remember when adding the sugar to the whisking egg whites is to add them in small addition at a time. placing the whole amount of sugar all at once into the egg white foams can cause the air to collapse due to its density. So, the trick is to add in one to two table spoon at a time, wait for 30 seconds before adding the next addition.
Ensure that the bowl is clean of any fat residue before whisking the egg whites
One of the rule #101 for making any meringue is to ensure that the egg whites at no circumstance should come in contact with any type of fat or fat residue. Fat like butter or oil hinders the ability of the protein in the egg whites to foam and create that air pockets that you need for a chiffon or any type of meringue for that matter. So, if you have used your mixer bowl previously for any other type of baking that involved beating the butter or whisking yolks (because yolk is also a culprit like any other fat type), make sure that you clean the bowl well with hot soapy water.
Tilt the sponge tin upside down when cooling
Because of its light texture, as soon as the sponge is baked from the oven, tilt the cake pan upside down lifted away from a surface to prevent the sponge from sweating and leave it to cool. The base of the cake tin will hold on to the sponge and the reversed position helps prevent it from sinking and wrinkling on the sides. This is why the recommended chiffon baking tin mentioned "above" is a good investment to have if you are serious about making the best Chiffon.
Once the sponge are cool enough to handle, gently press the top to release the sides then run a sharp knife to fully release the sides of the sponge. Repeat the same for the base to remove the pillar of the Chiffon baking tin. (Refer to the Summary Video for guideline)
Removing the Chiffon Sponge from the tin
A lot of people find removing chiffon sponge from its tin a nightmare, but it is actually quite straight forward. Just remember to only try to remove the sponge from the cake tin when the sponge is cool enough that it won't collapse on itself when you release it from the tin. Do not leave the tin to cool entirely though or the base and side of the sponge can become soggy from sweating against the baking tin. When the sponge has cooled enough to hold on to its own ( when the sponge it no longer feels warm to touch), gently press the top of the sponge to release the sides slightly then run a sharp knife around the sides of the tin and push the base upwards to remove the border of the tin. Now, run a sharp knife on the base, then turn the sponge over and gently press it away from the base to remove the sponge from the pillar. (Refer to end of the video for reference)
So there you have it! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my husband does because that is the only cake I can get some fruit in his diet. Kidding! :)
RECIPE FOR THE BANANA CHIFFON
Equipment: 230mm diameter x 10 mm height Chiffon pan
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 Minutes
100g Egg yolks
25g Caster sugar
50ml Vegetable Oil
200 g Ripe Bananas (2 ½ medium size bananas)
½ tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste
90g Cake flour, sifted
¼ tsp. Baking soda
¼ tsp. Salt
210 g Egg whites
½ tsp Cream of tartar
75g Caster sugar
1. Pre heat the oven to 160°C.
Place the ripe bananas, egg yolks and vegetable oil into a jug and stick blend until smooth. Place the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl then add in the banana puree mixture and whisk until well combine. Set aside until ready to use.
2. In a clean stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, place the room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar together and whisk on medium speed until it is light and foamy or until it reaches soft peak.
3. Gradually stream in the sugar a little at time allowing the sugar to dissolve in the egg white before adding in the next addition of sugar. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and continue to mix until a medium peak is form. The meringue should tripled in volume, is thick and shiny but still falls off your whisk when you lift it away from the meringue and is not stiff.
4. Gently fold through the meringue into the banana mixture in 2-3 additions with a spatula. Transfer the chiffon mix into the chiffon baking tin then smooth out the top. Tap the tin to to three times onto the bench to rid of any large air bubbles.
5. Place the chiffon tin into the pre heated oven and bake for approximately 45- 50 minutes or when tested with a skewer it comes out clean. Do not open the oven prematurely or this can cause the sponge to collapse in the oven. Only check at a 40 minutes mark.
Once the sponge cake is ready, remove from the oven and very quickly and carefully, invert the tin and stand the pillar on to a cup or a jar and leave the chiffon sponge to cool upside down.
6. Once cooled, gently press the top of the sponge around to release it from the sides from the tin then run a sharp knife around the sides, then repeat the same process to remove the base and pillar. Serve!
Place leftover Chiffon cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.