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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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.

coffee chiffon cake

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This is NOT a coffee cake, an American cake made with nuts, sugar, and sometimes chocolate, that’s an accompaniment for coffee and tea. This is not that kind of coffee cake. This is a cake that’s flavored with espresso coffee, and because it’s a chiffon, it is spongy and light. This cake is my mother-in-law’s recipe. If she wanted to make this cake fancy, she would frost it with a butter frosting that has just three ingredients:  a stick of butter whipped until light, a teaspoon of strong coffee, and enough condensed milk to taste. So simple and sinfully delicious. Speaking of simple, from Better Homes and Gardens, I discovered a chocolate ganache that has just two ingredients: cream and enough sweet chocolate to send you hurrying to confession.  This ganache, I confess, makes me want to lick the bowl, the spoon, and the pot.

Mama’s Coffee Chiffon Cake

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 55 minutes
Cooling time: 1 1/2 hours (necessary before frosting or glazing)

7 egg whites (210g)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups (250g) all purpose flour
1 1/2 (225g + 113g) cups superfine sugar, divided
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks (175g)
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 325˚F/175˚C.

Whip egg whites. Put egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating at high speed until blended. Gradually add 1/2 cup (113g) sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until whites turn smooth and silky. There’s no need to clean the beaters for the next step.

Make the batter. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup sugar in another large bowl. Make well in center of the dry ingredients and add oil, egg yolks, water, dissolved coffee, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are moistened.

Combine the batter and whipped whites. Scrape the batter into the whipped egg whites. By hand gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Cut the center of the batter with a spatula and drag it along the bottom to the side of the bowl then turn the spatula over. Rotate the bowl one quarter turn and repeat the process until there are just streaks of white remaining. Pour into an ungreased tube cake pan. Cut the batter with a sharp thin blade to eliminate air pockets.

Bake and unmold the cake. Bake 55-60 minutes. If the pan has no “feet” invert the cake pan over a funnel to cool. Cool thoroughly before unmolding and frosting, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. To unmold, use a sharp thin blade to loosen the sides. Push straight down and forward, away from the side. Remove the knife and repeat. To loosen the center, use a skewer, applying the same motion. Gently remove the sides of the pan. Then holding the centerpiece upright, insert the blade between the bottom of the pan and the cake, applying the same motion. Remove the center-piece.

Decorate. Frost cooled cake with a chocolate ganache, if desired. A ganache (pronounced gah-NASH) is a pourable French frosting. To make this, put a half cup of whipping cream or heavy cream in a saucepan. Scald the milk. This means to cook it over medium heat until there are tiny bubbles all around the edges of the pot. In Jamaica we say “watch pot never boil” but you really have to watch this one or the bottom will burn. Once tiny bubbles appear, remove pot from heat. Add 11 1/2 oz dessert chocolate or milk chocolate or a combination of both milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Do NOT stir. Let sit 5 minutes. After 5 minutes stir until blended. Let sit to thicken slightly. Pour slowly in a back and forth motion over cooled cake and let it drizzle down the sides. Or just frost the top as I did. This ganache is rich and smooth and not very sweet. It complements the espresso coffee flavor of Mama’s chiffon cake.

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take the cake: coffee chiffon cake and buttermilk country cake

Today I had two reasons for baking. We had a dinner invitation and it was my sister-in-law’s anniversary. For the invitation, I made my mother-in-law’s coffee chiffon cake, a family favorite, and spread a chocolate ganache on top. I made the ganache from a dessert chocolate bar given to me by my friend Thavida,  and a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips to make up the difference. So smooth and rich!

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For the anniversary cake, I made a buttermilk country cake adapted from a recipe in The Cake Bible. In the book is an absolutely mouthwatering picture of a country cake with a fat mound of crème fraîche and sliced peaches on top. Alas, there are no peaches in Bangkok. So, for my version, I used fresh whipped cream and chopped fresh mango.

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I’m so tired I can hardly stay awake! Tomorrow I will post the recipes.