Updated: Apr 10, 2022
Apart from having lots of different type of chocolate in my home pantry, I happen to be a fan of freeze dried fruit powder as well. Freeze dried fruit powder are great for desserts because of that intense flavour it retains from the way the fruits are treated and dried and they also gives a really nice natural colour to your bakes as well. You may have seen some on my recipes where I used freeze dried fruit powder to make mochi doughs and whipped cream.
If you are unable to find the strawberry freeze dried powder, you can omit it in the recipe and make it a plain vanilla batter.
I personally think that this sponge cake is best served with fresh whipped vanilla mascarpone cream and fresh strawberries.
BLACK SESAME PASTE
In this recipe, I have also used the Japanese black sesame paste. If you are unable to find the sesame paste, you can grind the sesame seeds to powder and replace the sesame paste with 30 g of the sesame powders - SEE RECIPE BELOW.
It is important that the chiffon sponge is baked at a low temperature but not too low that the air pockets in the chiffon mix starts to collapse before the structure can be built in order for it to rise. A good temperature guideline for chiffon sponge would be 160°C onwards.
The idea to baking a chiffon cake is for it to rise up in volume without too much of a crack on the surface. One of the trick to avoid a big crack at the top is by positioning the baking tin at the lower rack in the oven so that it is away from the heat source at the top of the oven.
Another way to ensure uniform rise in the sponge is also to tap the sponge mix to rid of the large air pockets before placing it in to the oven to bake.
Always start with low to medium speed when whisking the egg whites initially. This will allow the air bubble to build in a more consistent size. If air pockets are too irregular in size (which usually happen when you whip the egg whites at a very high speed before adding in the sugar), the larger air pockets will pop quicker during the initial baking which can cause the chiffon to rise irregularly.
Once the egg whites are foamy and there are no signs of watery egg whites, start sprinkling in the sugar while whisking (still on low to medium speed), and as soon as all the sugar have been added, you can then turn up the speed and keep whisking the egg whites until it turns to soft peak. The sugar acts to stabilise the the meringue and helps prevent the air pocket from collapsing.
Make sure that the meringue is whisked to medium peak. Meringue that are too stiff can make it really hard to incorporate in to the egg yolk batter and can create clumps. Meringue that are too runny and soft can compromise the volume of the chiffon cake during baking or in other words, it won't rise as much.
ADDING ACID IN YOUR MERINGUE
When you are making the chiffon mix, the main ingredients that helps the cake mix to rise is the egg whites. It is crucial that the egg whites are room temperature as this will help the egg whites to whip better and faster. When whisking the meringue (egg whites whisked to foam with the addition of sugar), add some form of acid as the acidity help stabilises the foam (air) in the meringue. A pinch of cream of tartar can do the work and if you do not have cream of tartar at home, simply add a small teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Adding acid in to the egg whites also prevents the egg whites from getting over whisked too easily.
ADD SUGAR SLOWLY IN MULTIPLE ADDITIONS
When you are whisking the egg whites, air are incorporated in to the egg whites while the protein in the egg whites starts to unravel/denature. The unravelled protein will start to cling on to one another and start to encircle the air pocket in the egg whites, and what this does is it prevents the air pocket from coming in contact to one another which can cause the air pocket to get bigger and bigger and ultimately burst and cause the meringue to collapse.
Imagine now that your meringue are now foamy with no sign of liquid whites. If you were to dump the sugar as a whole on top of these foam, the sugar can be so heavy that it will start to cause the air pocket to burst and collapse. This is the reason why you should add in the sugar in a sprinkling mode and gradually so that the sugar has a chance to get to the water phase in the egg whites and will start to dissolve.
Dissolved sugar acts like a barrier for the egg foam to come in to contact with one another because as the water in the egg whites begin to thicken into a solution, thanks to the sugar, it makes it hard for the foam to travel as freely.
As the structure of the chiffon cake highly relies on the air foam that is in the batter, once it is taken out from the oven it has a tendency of collapsing as it cools. In order to avoid that, it is crucial that you tilt the baking tin upside down over a wire rack to avoid sweating. This is the reason why you NEVER grease your chiffon tins!
Removing the chiffon cake from its pan
Lots of people swear by not running a sharp knife around the edges to release chiffon cake from the pan but to gently release the edges by pressing the chiffon away from the sides of the tin. I think that highly depends on the pan that you have. The one that I am using do require you to run a sharp knife around it. If you are using a knife, make sure that you put the pressure outwards leaning against the baking pan and not inwards into the sponge for even trimming otherwise you may risk running the knife into the chiffon sponge itself.
Once you have released the chiffon from its tin, gently tilt the pillar of the tin upside down. Press the sides of the chiffon gently with your hands to release it from the base of the pillar part of the tin and let the sponge slide down on to a cooling rack.
Equipment: 23 cm Chiffon Cake Pan
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Baking time : 50 minutes - 1 hour
Recipe by Christean Ng
CHIFFON SPONGE MIX
115g Cake flour/plain flour
25 g Corn flour
10 g Freeze Dried Strawberry Powder (Optional)
100 g Egg Yolks
40 g Caster Sugar
130 g Full Cream Milk
90 g Vegetable Oil
3 tsp Black sesame paste (*Replace with 15 g sesame powder added with 15 g caster sugar pulverised to powder in a food processor)
200 g Egg whites
1/4 tsp Cream of tartar
85 g Caster sugar
WHIPPED VANILLA MASCARPONE CREAM
100 g Full cream 35% fat
60 g Mascarpone Cream
20 g Icing Sugar - Sifted
2tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste
1. Pre heat the oven to 170˚C.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together then add in the vegetable oil and continue to whisk until they are well combined. Add in the sifted dry ingredients (cake flour and corn flour) and whisk until there are no lumps of flour then stream in the milk gradually while constantly whisking.
3. Divide the batter to two equal portions in two separate bowl. With the first bowl, whisk in the freeze dried strawberries and whisk until well incorporated. With the second bowl of batter, whisk in the black sesame paste. Set the two bowl of batter aside.
4. In a clean stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl and whisk on medium speed until it is frothy and there are no signs of liquid egg whites. Gradually stream in the sugar while continuously whisking.
5. Once all the sugar are added, increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whisk until the egg whites reaches high peak. Be careful not to over whisk the egg whites and keep a close eyes on it while it is whisking.
6. Divide the meringue to two equal portions and fold the divided meringue in to each batter, gently folding the meringue through each batter with a spatula.
7. Spoon each batter into the chiffon tin alternately. Tap the tin 3 time to get ride of any large air pocket then bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour or when tested with a skewer, they come out clean. Do not open the oven door prematurely and only check the readiness of the sponge at 40 minutes mark.
8. Once the chiffon sponge is ready, remove the tin from the oven and very carefully and immediately, tilt the chiffon tin upside down and leave to cool slightly. If you are not using the Bundt tin with the protruding sides like the ones I am using, place a tall glass or cup and balance it with the pillar of the tin.
9. Once the tin is cooled enough to touch, tilt the tin over to sit upright. With a sharp paring knife, run it around the sides of the tin. Flip it carefully upside down again, then remove the sides of the tin. Gently press the sides of the chiffon sponge to release it from the base of the pillar (which should be sitting on top at this point) and let the sponge slowly slide down. Remove the pillar of the baking tin then leave the sponge to fully cool on the wire rack with the smooth side upwards.
Prepare the mascarpone whipped cream by whisking all the ingredients together until the come to a pipeable consistency. Transfer the cream into a piping bag fitted with a petal piping tip. Pipe on top of each slices of the chiffon cake then finish off by decorating with some strawberries.
Ensure that the cream and mascarpone is cold for the best whipping quality.