Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rainbow (Colour Wheel) Chiffon Cake

I have made rainbow cakes before but never with chiffon. Unless the 6 cake layers are quite thin, I would imagine that stacking a soft and delicate chiffon cake would most likely result in the bottom layers being pressed down and squished. One alternative to doing a rainbow chiffon cake (that I have seen other bakers do) is to bake it in a single pan. The cake batter is divided into 6 and each portion coloured. The portioned batter is then carefully layered one on top of the other in the pan.  When this one cake is baked, it will already have all the rainbow colours in it!

Yesterday, during one of those rare times that I had a bit of extra free time, I thought of doing a rainbow chiffon cake but in a different way.....

Something like this basic colour wheel....


Which, translated into cake will look like this....

Pretty cool, right?

The cake above is an 8" vanilla chiffon (recipe here).  Simple enough especially if you have been making this cake over and over again like me. To do this colour wheel effect though, the process is unfortunately not as simple.  It is actually quite tedious (and there is so much washing involved!). Doing it once in a while can be quite fun though........so......if you are interested in trying it, here's what you need to do.

Before you can begin making the cake, you first need to prepare your pan by making the cake batter separators.  No need to buy anything special here - we are improvising!

Cut out three 8" by 3" rectangles from thin cardboard.  Wrap each piece in foil to make it food safe. Fold two of them in half.


Insert the unfolded cardboard upright into the center of your 8" cake pan.


Position the two folded pieces above and below the center divider such that you will get 6 equally-sized wedges.


As my cake pan has a removable bottom, I did not line it anymore with baking paper.  I pretty much eyeballed the placement of my dividers.  However, if you need to line your cake pan, you can create creases in your baking paper to serve as a guide in placing the dividers. To do this, fold your 8" baking paper circle in half and then into thirds.  Open it up to reveal the partitions created by the creases.  Line your cake pan then place the foil dividers on top of the creases.


To make the cake batter, simply follow the vanilla chiffon cake recipe.  After you have made your eggyolk mixture, divide it equally into 6 bowls. (Weighing your cake batter will give you more accurate results.)


Colour each mixture with rainbow colours.  You will only need tiny amounts of gel paste (like a drop) or powdered food colour (a pinch).


Proceed to beating your eggwhites till stiff.  Divide this equally among the six bowls.  Again, it is best to weigh the mixture for accuracy.


You need to work fairly quickly in folding the meringue into each eggyolk mixture.  Be gentle but deliberate.  Spoon each mixture into your divided pan and push the cake batter into the corners. Give the pan a gentle tap to level the cake batter and to release any air bubbles.


Carefully remove the dividers by lifting them straight up. Do not bend them sideways or any other way - just pull straight up. Some of the cake batter will stick to the dividers in this process.  Don't attempt to put them back into the pan as you might risk messing up the colours!  You can reuse the cardboard pieces for next time.  Just remove the foil wrapping!


Bake and cool the cake inverted as per usual.  (My 4-egg chiffon cake recipe usually bakes up to the top of the pan.  However, in this case, as some of the batter was lost, my cake was slightly shorter.)


As with any cake, there will be some browning on the cake top and sides.  I find that simply rubbing my fingers gently back and forth against the cake removes this caramelized layer rather easily.  When you do this, you will reveal all the vibrant colours! Yey!


I wasn't planning on frosting this cake but here's one idea of what you can do.  Cut the cake horizontally in half.


Spread your filling on your bottom layer.  Before topping with the other cake layer, rotate it one colour to the right so that the top colour will be different from the bottom.


This way, you will have six different colour combinations in your cake slices!



You can also combine slices to make up a taller slice with all the rainbow colours!


As with most rainbow cakes, the "wow" factor lies mostly on the appearance.  The cake itself is pretty much very basic.  To take this cake up a notch, you can flavour each colour differently - strawberry for red, orange for orange, lemon for yellow and so on and so forth.  Alternatively, you can fill each cake segment with something different.  Maybe different fruits or different flavoured frostings?  I know it will even be more work than it already is, but it will add some element of surprise to eating this cake, don't you think?

Hope you learned something new today and get to try this yourself! Enjoy the rest of your week :)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Coffee Crunch Cake

I KNOW...I KNOW.  I have been missing in action for a while now.  I am aware that many of you have already been wondering what has become of me.  Well, I'm still here! Just way too busy to stop or even pause to post something new! I have a little time to kill at the moment (while waiting to pick up my daughter from work so late at night) so I thought of doing some updating. Not that much time to write something entirely new BUT the good news is, I actually have a completed post that has been sitting in my drafts folder for months now! I don't really remember why I never got around to publishing it. So better now when I have the chance, correct?

It's another cake hack!

Image credit: Red Ribbon Bakeshop website
That's Red Ribbon Bakeshop's coffee crunch cake (of course, you knew that already).  Here's the copycat I made for my husband's birthday last November.


Now here's how to make it. (Sorry for being so direct.  Told you, I didn't have that much time on my hands.)  Anyway, enjoy!

COFFEE CRUNCH CAKE (makes one 8" cake)

This cake has four components: the vanilla chiffon, the whipped cream frosting, the caramel sauce, and the coffee crunch. Don't be intimidated! Save for the frosting, the three other elements can be made ahead so that's less stress! 

Make days head:

1. 8" vanilla chiffon cake - recipe here.  Freeze then thaw about an hour before you plan to frost it.

2. The COFFEE CRUNCH:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup strong black/brewed coffee
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon baking soda, sifted

Line a baking tray with baking paper or silpat.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar, coffee, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil. Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan. Cook over medium heat to just below the hard-crack stage (310 deg F or 155 deg C).

Remove from heat. Sprinkle the baking soda evenly over coffee sugar syrup. Whisk just until combined. 

Pour immediately onto the prepared baking sheet. Do not spread. Let stand until cool and hard, about 30 minutes.


Break into approximately 1/2" pieces.  Keep in an airtight container until ready to use.


3. The CARAMEL SAUCE:

Ingredients:

3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons thickened cream (or heavy whipping cream)
pinch of salt

In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan and over medium heat, melt the sugar until it is golden amber in colour.  You can move the pan from side to side to ensure even melting but do not stir the sugar.

Slowly pour the cream down the side of the pan.  The mixture will bubble up and splatter.  Mix with a spoon until smooth. Add in the salt.

Transfer the caramel sauce to a container.  Let cool completely, cover, then refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before using.



To assemble this cake:

1. Make a batch of stable whipped cream frosting (recipe here).

2. Cut your cake horizontally in half then place top layer, cut side up on your cake board.  

Fill a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip with some whipped cream frosting then pipe a dam around the cake edge. Spread some whipped cream on the space inside the dam.


3.  Fill the cake center generously with coffee crunch pieces.


4.  Cover the center with more whipped cream.


5.  Top with the remaining cake half, cut side down.  Frost the entire cake then run a cake comb around the cake side.


6.  With the same bag and star tip you used for making the dam in step 2, pipe large stars around the cake top, about 1/2" in from the edge.


7.  Put some runny, room temperature caramel sauce in a small piping bag. (If your caramel sauce has thickened too much from refrigeration, take a small amount and microwave it for just a few seconds to make it more liquid BUT not hot.)  Cut a small bit off the tip of your piping bag then drizzle all around the cake edge.


8.  Fill another small piping bag with thick caramel sauce.  Snip a little bit off the end again then pipe spirals on top of each star on the cake top.


8.  Just before serving, fill the cake center with lots of coffee crunch. (Once the coffee crunch is exposed to air and moisture, it will shrink and melt and become a sticky mess so DO NOT place it on the cake until you are ready to serve.)