twenty days and counting! coffee chiffon cake with mocha butter cream frosting

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In 20 days’ time, it is Taranee’s wedding.  We are serving cupcakes to the guests but she wants a cutting cake for the bride and groom made from her grandmother’s recipe, the coffee chiffon cake.  I baked a practice cake this weekend, frosted it with mocha butter cream and decorated  the top with flowers made from sliced almonds and chocolate chips. The cake is moist and tender, with an unmistakable espresso flavor intensified with a little cocoa. The butter cream frosting is not as creamy or as fluffy  as I would have liked; it needs some adjustment to make it a spreadable consistency, possibly some cream added to it. And I think the almonds need to be toasted to bring out more of a contrast with the frosting.

Coffee Chiffon Cake with Mocha Butter Cream Frosting
prep time: 40 minutes
baking time: 60 minutes

7 large eggs, separated when cold then brought to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
113g superfine sugar
250g all purpose flour
225g superfine sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325˚F/160˚C. Prepare 2×8 inch springform pans, bottoms lined with parchment paper. Do not grease the bottoms or the sides. If you prefer you can use a standard two-piece tube pan instead of the springform.

I whip the egg whites first so I don’t have to wash the beaters (I only have one set). Prepare a large mixing bowl and beaters by washing and drying them carefully. Then wipe them out with paper toweling dipped in a little white vinegar. This thoroughly removes any grease otherwise the egg whites will not whip.

Place the egg whites in the prepared bowl, and beat on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to high. When soft peaks form, add the 113g sugar one tablespoon at a time. At the soft peak stage, turn off the mixer and slowly raise the beaters. If the peaks flop over, continue beating until stiff peaks form, the egg whites turn silky white, and when you tilt the bowl, the egg whites do not move. If the whites fail these tests, either some yolk got into the whites or the bowl and beaters were not grease free. Set aside the whipped whites.

In another large bowl, weigh out the flour, 225g sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk to blend. Make a well in the center and add the yolks, oil, water, dissolved coffee, cocoa, and vanilla. Blend until just combined. Add about 1/3 of the batter to the whipped egg whites and stir to combine. This is called lightening the batter and makes it easier to combine the remaining batter with the egg whites. Add the remaining batter to the egg whites and gently fold by hand. To fold, “cut” the batter with a silicone spatula and drag it across the bottom of the bowl, then turn the batter over. Rotate the bowl one quarter turn and repeat until just white streaks remain.

Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared baking pans. The batter will come to one inch from the top. Run a small thin blade zig zag fashion through the batter to release air pockets, being careful not to scrape the parchment paper underneath.  Bake 55-60 minutes. My cakes were done in 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool thoroughly with the pans upright. Gently press a thin blade between the cake and the pan sides and remove the sides. Invert the cakes and remove the parchment paper. Re-invert the cakes. Split the cakes into two layers, fill,  frost, and decorate.

To frost a two layer cake (that is, one 8″ chiffon cake split into two halves horizontally) you will need:

Mocha Butter Cream Frosting

Prep time: 40 minutes (includes softening the butter, 30 minutes)

3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 cups butter, softened to room temperature (I used one cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons espresso coffee powder plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
4 teaspoons warm water
1-2 tablespoons whipping cream

In a small bowl, dissolve the coffee and cocoa with 4 teaspoons warm water.Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Continue whipping until fluffy; the yellow butter will lighten in color and turn white. Add the vanilla, the dissolved coffee-cocoa mixture, then combine. Add the whipping cream a tablespoon at a time to get the desired consistency. Double the recipe to fill and frost two 8″ cakes.

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