So I’ve had a super busy week, with my birthday and my friend Rachel’s birthday the day after, various birthday celebrations, trying not to faint during an actual heatwave in England, and of course, making cake.
This year I received a coffee and walnut cake from my family (yay!) which was really tasty, and some cookies from my friend Alice which I think were oatmeal and chocolate, but most importantly, were fantastic! I have consumed them all too quickly, and now want more.
For Rachel’s birthday I decided it would be a good idea for me to try something I’d never done before – an espresso chiffon cake, with chocolate fudge icing. I went out and invested some desperately needed sandwich tins to make it, as 3 tiers and one cake tin didn’t sound like a fun afternoon. But making chiffon cake was one of the more daunting experiences I’ve had in the kitchen, because I was under pressure of time, and couldn’t really afford for it to go wrong. What happened if I mixed it too much, too little? What if my egg whites were too stiff?!
But other than a slight panic I had when I realised part of one of the layers had got stuck to the tin (chiffon cake is incredibly fragile it seems), it miraculously went off without a hitch. Okay, apart from when I misjudged writing ‘Happy Birthday’ on it and almost fell off the edge with the y on birthday. But I felt successful! And the most important part was that the recipient was overjoyed (as was I, because I got to try some and it was AMAZING).
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen:
Makes an 8- or 9-inch triple-layer cake
1/4 cup (60 ml) neutral vegetable oil, such as soybean, canola or vegetable blend
6 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons (90 ml) freshly brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (170 grams) cake flour
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with rounds of parchment or waxed paper, but do not grease.
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixture, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Raising the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form; do not whip until stiff or the cake will shirk excessively upon cooling.
Add the espresso-egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just enough to combine. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold them in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
Bake the cakes for about 18 minutes each, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pans. When cooled, run a blunt knife around the edge of the pans to release the cakes. Invert onto wire racks and remove the paper liners.
To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Soak the cake with 1/3 cup of the Espresso Syrup (below). Spread about 1 1/3 cups of the Instant Fudge Frosting (below) evenly over the top of the layer. Repeat with the next layer, more syrup and more frosting. Finally, top with the third layer. Soak it with the remaining syrup and frost the tops and sides with the remaining frosting.
Makes one cup
1/3 cup hot, freshly brewed espresso
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark rum, such as Meyer’s
In a bowl, stir together the espresso and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the rum and let cool to room temperature.
Instant Fudge Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.