the three-layer coffee chiffon wedding cake with mocha butter cream frosting

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Third time’s a charm!

What I learned: this cake stands up well either as a tube or as a layer cake. I baked two 8-inch layers and split each one in half horizontally. Then I used three of the layers to make this cake. I was more generous with the butter and the cream to make this frosting–I wanted lots of it in case I made a mistake. I also toasted the almonds as I thought they looked better. It was a labor of love, but it was delicious–moist, creamy and with just enough espresso powder in it to remind you of its presence, discreetly. We did not throw out the extra cake layer. We ate it on our way to the beauty salon before the wedding ceremony.

Three-Layer Coffee Chiffon Cake

7 (210g) egg whites, 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
7 (175g)egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened chocolate powder
2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat oven to 325˚F/175˚C. Wash and dry the bowl and beaters to be sure they are absolutely free of grease. Alternatively, wipe them down with a soft cloth dampened with a little white vinegar. Line the bottom and sides of two 8-inch springform cake pans with parchment paper.

Cake Baker’s Note: Cut the paper to fit the bottom and sides. Do not exceed the height of the pan when cutting the strips for the sides. If the strips are taller than the sides of the pans, the cakes will not bake properly. So I made 2 strips 26 inches long by 3 inches wide. They should be a little bit longer so the ends overlap. The paper sides tended to curl so I clipped them in place with a paper clip so they wouldn’t roll over when I poured in the batter.

I always make the meringue first because I only have one set of beaters. So. Beat the 7 eggs whites in a large bowl on medium speed. When it is foamy, add the cream of tartar. Continue beating on high speed until the egg whites turn white and opaque. Add the 113g sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Turn off the mixer and slowly raise the beaters. The points should stand tall and the whites will be glossy and smooth. Set aside. No need to wash the beaters.

In a small bowl, mix the espresso and cocoa powders with the warm water. Blend until no lumps remain. Set aside.

In another large bowl, add the flour, 225g sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks, oil, water, espresso mixture, and vanilla. Beat until just combined.

Scrape the batter all at once into the beaten egg whites. Gently fold by hand until just white streaks remain. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Carefully remove the paper clips holding the strips of parchment in place, because as the batter bakes, it will expand. Carefully run a skewer zig zag fashion though the batter being careful not to scratch the parchment at the bottom of the pans. This will dislodge any air bubbles.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. The cakes are done when a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place the pans on wire cooling racks. Remove the sides of the pans and let the cakes cool thoroughly with the paper strips still on. When the cakes are thoroughly cooled, gently remove the paper strips. Invert the cakes and remove the bottom plates. Remove the parchment on the bottom. Re-invert the cakes and slice each in half horizontally. Fill and frost with mocha butter cream frosting.

Cake Baker’s Note: Use three of the best looking layers to frost. That is, they are even in height and free of crumbs. I use one of the top layers as the base since the top is sticky and will anchor the cake to the plate. To be sure I put a dollop of icing on the plate first then place the base over it.

Mocha Butter Cream Frosting

3 cups icing or confectioner’s sugar
2 cups butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons warm water
1-2 tablespoons whipping cream

Combine the espresso, cocoa, and water in a small bowl. Mix well so that it is free of lumps. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat on low speed to combine, then on high speed for a total of 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and the expresso mixture, and beat for an additional minute. Add the cream 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency. I used two tablespoons.

Cake Baker’s Note: Trim the tops if using them as layers to provide greater stability. I also put the second and third layers cut side down.  A smooth straight cake bottom is the best for the top layer.

Fill between each layer and then frost the top and sides generously. To make the swirls, I used the back of a round spoon. Decorate with almond and chocolate flowers, if desired.

Almond and Chocolate Flowers
1 cup sliced almonds
chocolate chips, semi-sweet or milk

Toast the almonds in an ungreased skillet until a pale brown. Remove from the heat and let cool. To make the flowers, position 3 almond “petals” in a half-circle around a chocolate chip. Finish the “flower” with 2 more petals. That’s all there is to it!

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