banana chiffon cake, redux

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In the quest to perfect this recipe, I tried it again this weekend. The result is a cake that was tender and moist, not too sweet, and full of banana flavor.  Alas, in appearance, it is not perfect. As you can see, the top has cracks, the result of a too hot oven because the temperature cannot be precisely calibrated to 160˚C. To me, the question is why bake? At the heart of the art of baking is to make something so beautiful and so delicious that only a photograph is all that remains of a cake.

Banana Chiffon Cake
Cake Baker’s Note: Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Separate the eggs when they are still cold. What’s always worked for me is to crack open the whole egg into a small bowl then separate the egg in my hands by letting the white run out between my fingers. I reduced the baking time to 45 minutes and used all purpose flour instead of cake flour. That’s on my next to-do list–until I run out of bananas in the freezer!

Prep time: 30 minutes.
Bake time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: 2 hours

214g cake flour (250g all purpose)
281g caster or superfine sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
112g (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
5 egg yolks, unbeaten
118g (1/2 cup) cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325˚F/160˚C.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the oil, unbeaten egg yolks, water, vanilla, and mashed bananas. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. When the beaters are raised the egg whites stand straight up.

Pour whipped egg whites into the batter. Gently fold until just white streaks remain.

Scrape batter into an ungreased two-piece tube pan. Using a thin blade drag it zig-zag fashion through the batter to release any air bubbles.

Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean—with just a few crumbs attached. Invert the pan over a wire cooling rack. If the pan has feet, let it stand or, if not, invert over a funnel. Let the cake cool thoroughly, about 2 hours.

To unmold, re-invert the cake and gently insert a sharp thin blade between the pan and the side of the cake. Press forward towards the cake. Pull the knife out and repeat. Use a skewer to release the centerpiece. Invert over wire rack. Keep the pan inverted over the rack to remove the bottom. Again, insert the blade between the cake bottom and the pan bottom. Press down gently. Once you remove the centerpiece re-invert the cake. Put it on a pretty plate then glaze the top or just sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I took this cake to Robert’s last night. We each had 2 slices and there was still half a cake left over.

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banana chiffon cake with cream cheese frosting

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I love chiffon cakes. They are so light and airy! I also love banana bread. They are dense and sweet, perfect for a light breakfast or a snack. When I saw Chew Out Loud’s recipe for banana chiffon cake, I thought it would a a wonderful combination of the two. Now, in Thailand, there are quite a variety of bananas, but not all of them are good for baking. The one most familiar to Americans, the Thai call kluay hom. The kluay hom is actually the best for baking. It has enough moisture that the pulp of the fruit gets distributed in baking. The smaller varieties such as kluay numwa look like fat stubby fingers, and are best eaten out of hand or dried and candied. My problem is, I have a freezer bag full of these little bananas because they got too ripe and I didn’t want to throw them away. I will have to think about what to do with them.

Banana Chiffon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp table salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup cold water
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup very ripe mashed banana (approx. 2 bananas)
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F, with rack on lower middle position.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 4 min. Be sure it’s at stiff peaks, not soft peaks.

Cake Baker’s Note: I don’t have a whisk attachment for my handheld mixer, so I decided to whip the egg whites first the make the batter.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Make a well in the center. Add oil, unbeaten yolks, water, vanilla, and mashed bananas. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold together the banana mixture into the egg white mixture. Carefully fold repeatedly until batter is incorporated, until tiny white streaks remain.

Pour batter unto an ungreased tube pan with removable center/bottom. Bake 60 minutes or just until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (a few small tender crumbs attached is perfect.)

Invert the pan over a plate; keep pan inverted until cake is completely cool. Once cooled, use a very thin knife blade and run it carefully around all edges of the cake to loosen cake. Turn upside down onto a plate, and carefully remove the bottom/center of pan from the cake.

Unfortunately, the top of the cake was moist and a bit of the top stuck to the plate when I was removing the center tube. My solution was to fix it with some leftover cream cheese frosting that I had saved in the freezer.