Lemon chiffon cakes

Chiffon cakes have always scared me. They have very less to no leavening agent. Their main source of rising is the egg, mainly the egg white. And how we incorporate air in the egg white is one of the biggest challenges. And how to mix the batter with the flour mixture is another huge challenge. It’s not enough to just incorporate as much air in the egg whites, without over whipping it, we must also be very careful while folding the egg whites into the flour. We must ensure not to deflate the egg white in the process. Otherwise, we just end up with eggy pancakes. Not even kidding!

Anyway, one boring, rather dull day, I decided to give chiffon cakes a try. I did make an angel food cake once, without a bundt cake pan. I made my own bundt cake with two cake pans- a big one and a small cake pan inside the big cake pan to make it look like a tube. Regardless of all the hard work, the cake was a major fail. They did not taste good! At all! The lemon chiffon cake seemed much easier than angel food cake. I read recipes on Joy Of Baking, my go-to website for cakes, most of the time.

I started off with the whipping. Whipped the egg white to soft peaks, added the sugar little at a time while whipping on medium speed. Once all of the sugar was added, I increased the speed to medium-high and whipped till I got medium stiff peaks. Once that happened, I kept it aside and in another bowl, I added the dry ingredients, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and the egg yolks. The dry ingredients included flour, salt and baking powder. Whipped it on high for about 2 minutes till I got a light and fluffy pale mixture. I then folded in the egg whites in 3 parts trying not to deflate the last two parts. At this stage, the batter looked really fluffy and cloud-like. So I put them in a piping bag, and filled my cupcake moulds, half full and baked it in a preheated at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.

An impatient person that I am, I would have checked for doneness at least 3 times in the 25 minutes. They rose up beautifully and the top changed from blonde to a golden brown colour. Which is when I decided I should take it out. I took them out and like most recipes mentioned, inverted the mould and let it cool, the cakes in the pan itself.

After about 15 minutes, I came back to check if the cakes had cooled down completely before I unfold them, the cakes had unfolded themselves. They had broken into halves, filled off the mould and some of them had sunk more than they should have. I was a bit disappointed. Now the taste, the cakes has a nice lemon flavour to it, something I had never achieved. The taste did remind me a bit of pancake. Imagine the taste if say, a cake and a pancake had a baby. That said they weren’t too eggy. They were cooked through, they were extremely soft to the point where it melted in the mouth. Overall, they weren’t perfect, but they weren’t a complete fail.

Two main things I learned from this little experiment,

#1 NEVER keep opening the oven doors to check. Intuition plays a huge role here. For cakes like these, see if the top has started to brown a bit and take them out.

#2 Silicon moulds just don’t work for chiffon cakes. You need the good old-fashioned cake pans

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