Monday 16 March 2020

coffee and walnut chiffon cake

It's been such a long time since I posted, I've almost forgotten how, but I'm back with a much requested recipe, my coffee chiffon cake. It's no secret I love a chiffon, it's such an adaptable recipe, you can swap fruit juice for coffee, milk or just plain water and create wonderful flavour combinations. They're as enjoyable naked from the pan as they are blanketed in frosting with a drizzle of something something and a scattering of whatever. If it's your first time, start with the simple cake, enjoy its amazing texture, its subtle coffee flavour, and marvel at how quickly it disappears. If you have time on your hands, and aren't daunted by the extra dishes, go for the frosting with florals, or the coffee caramel and smoky, salty roasted nuts, I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Use your favourite coffee, black and cooled, sub plain flour for cake flour if need be, and if you can get your hands on it, applewood smoked salt is a delight.

Coffee Chiffon Cake

6 large eggs, separated
1 extra egg white
225g plain cake flour
250g caster sugar
50g extra caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt 
120ml canola oil, or similar
180ml cooled, black coffee
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

• preheat your oven to 170ºC
• combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt, sift into a large bowl (use a stand mixer, if you have one, with the paddle attachment) add the 250g caster sugar, mix to combine
• make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the coffee, egg yolks, oil and vanilla bean seeds, mix until smooth
• in another large bowl whisk the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar, mixing until you have soft peaks, then gradually add the additional 50g caster sugar, whisk until the sugar has dissolved and you have firm peaks
• fold the egg whites into the batter a third at a time, taking care to reach the bottom of the bowl
• pour the batter into an ungreased, unlined angel food cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes, the cake is cooked when it springs back if lightly pressed
• remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert to cool, if your tin doesn't have "feet" rest the centre tube of the inverted cake on an upturned cup, and leave to cool
• when completely cold, run a sharp knife around the inside and the centre section of the cake tin, remove the cake, still on the base of the tin, then run the knife between the bottom of the cake and the tin; invert the cake onto your serving plate
• slice giant slabs of cake with a serrated knife and enjoy!

the cake will keep in an airtight container for 3 days at room temperature or up to a week in the fridge, tends to only last a couple of days in my house :)

for something a little more indulgent, frost the cake with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, drizzle with coffee caramel, and strew with walnuts lightly roasted with smoked salt...

Swiss meringue buttercream

3 large egg whites
180g granulated sugar
230g butter, at room temperature, cubed
pinch salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

• combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, place over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 72ºC 
• return the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on medium high until the mixtures cools, has doubled in size and forms stiff peaks (if you don't have a stand mixer, a hand held electric mixer will be fine, I wouldn't attempt by hand)
• change to the paddle attachment and add the butter a piece at a time, mixing to incorporate each piece, the mixture may look alarmingly curdled but keep mixing and it will magically come back together
• once all the butter is incorporated add the salt and vanilla bean seeds, mixing on slow until combined

Coffee caramel

200g caster sugar
80g butter
120 ml thickened cream 
1 shot of coffee, or 2 tsp instant coffee

• add coffee to the cream and mix to combine, if you are using instant, first mix the coffee with 1 tbsp boiling water
• tip the sugar into a small/medium heavy based pan and heat on a medium to high setting, stirring every now and then, until the sugar starts to melt
• continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar has melted, turned a lovely caramel colour and has started to smoke; things can be a bit tricky here, you want to cook the caramel enough to develop that deep toasted flavour that offsets the sweetness, but it's a very fine line, leave it too long and it will burn and become inedibly bitter...
• as soon as you are happy with the caramel, whisk in the butter, take care, it will bubble and spit 
• remove from the heat and whisk in the coffee cream, if your caramel has formed clumps, return to the heat and stir until smooth
• pour into a clean jar and leave to cool
• once cool, cover with the lid and store in the fridge, it will keep for 2 weeks

Roasted walnuts with smoked salt

150g walnut halves (pieces are fine)
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt falkes

• preheat oven to 170ºC
• spread the walnuts over a baking tray, sprinkle with salt, roast for 10 minutes
• leave to cool on the tray, store in an airtight container until ready to use

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