I know everyone enjoys a light chiffon cake every now and then. I, too, have a not-so-secret love affair with the chiffon cake.
I’ve recently read a thought-provoking article ( “A taste you hate? Just wait.”) on The New York Times on how it is possible that we reconnect and reconcile with the food that we used to dislike (or even hate). And that we “can continue to develop new food preference into old age”.
This article totally describes my new relationship with rose flavour. My first introduction to rose flavour was in the form of rose syrup and bandung (a rose flavoured drink made from rose cordial and evaporated milk). I hated the artificial flavour of it. The bright ruby colour from the rose syrup alone gives me the shudders.
It is only much later in my adult life that I reconnected with it with the reintroduction to the rose flavour in the form of turkish delight.
This chiffon cake was adapted from my chocolate chiffon cake recipe. The rose flavour in the chiffon cake is subtle and delicate, with hints of it perfuming the cake; it makes its presence known without shouting for attention.
It is important to warm the milk and steep the dried rose petals in it for at least half an hr (longer if you have time to spare). This will help bring out the rose flavour as compared to using the dried rose petals directly. The addition of dried cranberries are completely optional but add a good textural and flavour element to the lightly flavoured cake.
If you prefer a more pronounced rose flavour, it would be best to ice this cake in a thin layer of rose flavoured chantilly cream as I have done. The icing is not as sinful as what people make it out to be (at least I think so on my part, naively or not, you decide). The rose chantilly cream brings out the rose accents in the cake in every mouthful you take, making it a perfect dessert to brighten up someone’s day.
This makes a light, delicate rose flavoured chiffon cake. Unadorned, it is perfect for breakfast with a cup of tea. If you like to pretty it up a little, you can ice it with a thin layer of rose chantilly cream. The rose chantilly cream accentuates the rose flavour of the cake with a light touch.
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
120g castor sugar
85ml corn oil (or any neutral flavour oil like canola and grapeseed)
130ml whole fresh milk
6 tbsp dried rose petals (culinary grade)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp rosewater
190g cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder (optional, just to ensure the lift. but I have baked without the baking powder and it works just as fine.)
1/4 tsp salt
5 large egg whites, room temperature
90g castor sugar
70g dried cranberries, optional
1. Warm the milk (until it is warm to touch, but not boiling). Add in the rose petals to infuse for about 30 minutes (at least) while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
2. Separate the egg whites and the egg yolks. Ensure that there is no trace of yolk in the whites. Allow them to come to room temperature. This is especially important for the egg whites to be whisked to their peaks.
3.Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Have your chiffon cake tin mould ready. Do not grease it!
3. Start with the group A ingredients as we only want to whisk the egg whites when everything else is done. If not, the egg whites will start to deflate.
4. In the bowl containing the yolks, add in sugar and whisk until light and pale. This can be done with a hand whisk. We just need some aeration in the yolks. Add in the oil and whisk until incorporated.
5. Add the milk with all the dried rose petals, vanilla extract and rosewater into the yolk mixture and whisk. Then, measure and sift your dry ingredients and whisk into the yolk mixture (until just incorporated).
6. Next come the crucial step of whisking the egg whites. It is best to use room temperature egg whites because whites right out of the fridge will be too cold and will not whisk well. We are essentially whisking a meringue. Start with a stainless steel clean and grease-free bowl (I always rinse it with boiling water to rid of any remaining grease). Add in your room temperature egg whites and put it onto your mixer.
7. Begin whisking your egg whites at medium low speed till foamy. You can add a pinch of cream of tar tar (which increases the meringue stability) at this point if you like. This is optional and your meringues will still work even without it.
8. Turn your mixer speed to high and whisk whites until soft peaks. Soft peaks are reached when the peaks of the whites droop when the whisk is lifted.
8. Start to pour in your caster sugar slowly, in a few additions, while the mixer is still running. The sugar, when added gradually, greatly stabilizes the meringue. But the sugar needs to be added slowly to give time for the sugar to dissolve and not weigh down the meringue. The meringue should be whisked to a glossy, firm peaks – just slightly short of stiff peaks. The whites should look glossy and when the whisk is lifted, the peaks will hold but the tip will fall back slightly onto itself. Just a note: stiff peaks mean that when you turn the whisk is lifted, the peaks will hold up straight without collapsing onto itself at all.
9. Start by adding 1/4 of the meringue to mixture A (yolk mixture). Whisk lightly to combine until it is well incorporated. Do not be afraid to knock out air at this stage. We are lightening the yolk mixture so that it will be of a more similar consistency to the meringue which will help you fold the meringue through easily and more evenly.
10. Next, add in 1/2 of the remaining meringue to the mixture A (yolk mixture). Fold gently using a rubber spatula drawing a line across the centre of the batter then going under the batter and lifting up when the spatula reaches the sides of the bowl. Turn the bowl as you do this. Do ensure that the egg whites are folded into the mixture thoroughly so you won’t get egg white streaks after baking. Fold in the dried cranberries into the batter.
11. Gently pour the chiffon cake batter into the chiffon tin. Using a rubber spatula, level and smooth out the top of the cake batter and gently tap the chiffon cake tin against the kitchen counter twice to remove any large air bubbles.
12. Bake in a preheated 180 degrees celcius for about 1 hr 5 minutes (+/-). The top of the cake should be lightly browned and springs back to touch when it is done. The cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. At about 25 minutes into the baking, check on your chiffon cake. If the top starts to get too brown or starts cracking too much, cover the chiffon cake with a sheet of aluminium foil before you continue with the baking. You can turn down the temperature slightly as well to about 170-175 degrees celcius.
13. Remove the ready cake from the oven, place a funnel into the center hole of the tin and invert the cake to cool on a cooling rack. Only attempt to unmould the chiffon cake from its tin when it is cooled fully.
14. To remove the cake after it is cooled, run a palette knife against the sides of the cake tin. Turn it out gently onto a cake board. The base of the cake tin would now be on top. Run a palette knife in one swift motion against the base of the tin. Allow the chiffon cake to gently fall onto the cake board. Remember not to shake/yank out the chiffon cake – the crumb structure is very tender and you would only tear your cake if you do so.
*Without the icing, the rose cranberry chiffon cake can keep in an air-tight container for about 3 days but it is best eaten on the day it is baked.
*After it is iced with the chantilly cream, you would need to keep the cake in the fridge. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving for the best results.
Rose chantilly cream (Icing)
Enough to ice a 23 cm chiffon cake (thinly)
250ml heavy cream (at least 33% fat)
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp rosewater
Optional: rose coloured food colouring (I used wilton colour gel)
1. Whisk the cream in a grease-free mixing bowl starting at a medium speed before turning up to maximum speed. Best to do it on a mixer, it may take some time by hand especially in a warm kitchen.
2. When the cream starts to thicken, add in the sifted icing sugar and rosewater and continue whisking until medium soft peaks. It should droop back slightly on itself.
3. Fold in the colouring to desired colour, and ice the (cooled) chiffon cake with a palette knife.
*Tips on making chantilly cream:
*It is best to work with a chilled mixing bowl. I would put the mixer bowl (without the cream) in the freezer for about 10 minutes before whisking the cream in it. It prevents the cream from separating.
*Do not overwhisk your cream or it will split. Best not to walk away from your mixer once you start on it.