Sunday, November 13, 2016

Have you ever wondered how a chiffon cake will turn out without the oil?

Since my Bake Basic Cake course ended, I hadn't tried baking any of the cakes I had learnt at home. When I baked at the school, some magical force seemed to guide me and I was able to bake successfully. Or perhaps the chefs shadowed me.

Anyway I knew I should try baking one of the basic cakes at home just to see if I could do it. As time went by, I feared my memories would fade. Finally last night I decided to bake an orange chiffon cake mostly because I like the taste. As always, I am not fully prepared and had to go to the supermarket at 9pm to buy flour. I was looking for unbleached plain flour but the supermarket had run out. When it comes to plain flour, I always opt for unbleached ones because I don't fancy eating bleach. Yes, they put flour bleaching agents into flour to whiten it. (read here) Ever since I attended the baking school, I have become partial to Prima flour because at the school, we used Prima flour to bake. So I ended up with Prima Top Flour, unbleached of course.

I used the same recipe given by the school. It is a pretty generic recipe and if you google "orange chiffon cake" chances are the recipe provided will be close to what I used.

While I was gathering my ingredients and equipment, I had a bit of a panic moment when I realised that my mixer does not come with a whisk. I use a cheap Philips HR1565 mixer which I bought long before I went to baking school. Back then I had no idea what kind of attachments are necessary. At the baking school, I was taught to use the paddle attachment for creaming and mixing. The balloon whisk is used for creating foam out of egg white.

My mixer came with these beaters and a pair of hooks which I believe are for bread dough. I felt quite defeated as these beaters don't look like whisks at all. I had been using them for creaming and they seem to do the job. I briefly entertained the idea of taking a train to a shopping mall to buy a mixer with a whisk but that would be too crazy. Besides most shops would be closing.

I decided to go ahead and use my beaters anyway since I was already so hyped up.

I had a dilemma. I only had one pair of beaters and one mixer bowl which I needed for foaming. So mixing the egg yolk and other liquid and sugar had to be done by hand. And I didn't really want to do it by hand because I had tennis elbow and I don't want to trigger it. I actually forgot what we did in baking school. Did we do it by hand? Gosh, my memories are getting bad.

It took a lot of arm power but I managed to get to this consistency. I did it with some rest in between to let my muscle relax. I used raw sugar instead of castor sugar so it was a bit harder to get that dissolved.

The flour is in.

At the baking school, the chefs make a bit deal about not letting any yolk enter the egg white. I am quite terrible at separating the yolk from the white and had a couple of accidents. Stupidly, instead of keeping them in the fridge to use the next day, I threw them away. I used my beaters to beat the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar for 3 min at medium speed. To my surprise, after 1 minute, the foam started coming. Once I threw in the sugar and cream of tartar, the foaming got grander and grander. I had halved the amount of sugar because I didn't want my cake so sweet. It concerned me a bit that halving the sugar might impact the foaming. I guess it didn't!

In the end I decided to beat for an extra 30 seconds to get soft peak. At the baking school, we were told to get stiff peak. But later another chef told us to get soft peak. So soft peak it is!

With my foam successfully peaked, I was so excited about the cake I was going to eat. I did not use any specific technique to mix the foam with the batter. I just used the hand whisk to mix it in.

Finally I used a silicone spatula to scrape the bottom so the orange colour will get blended in. Again no specific technique. Just do it.

The pan has to be completely free of oil otherwise the cake will not be able to climb up. So I did a good job washing and drying it. I didn't use all my batter as I was afraid the cake will spill out. I had about a handful left. I used a 8" pan.

After putting the cake batter into the oven set at 170 deg C, I went to tidy up the table.
That's when I saw the cup of oil. The cup of oil! I forgot to put oil in the batter. Oh my god. I went crazy. What do I do? It was too late to put the oil in the batter. I considered pulling the cake batter out of the oven and dumping it. Because what was the point in baking anymore? I wailed and cried and wailed and cried some more.

But I let the batter sit in the oven because I was curious what would happen. How bad would it be? I baked for 55 min instead of 60 min because the top started to get too brown. (good news for hubs) Because my oven is so tiny, the 8" pan is very close to the top of the oven. I didn't use any foil to cover the top because I'm lazy. I used a skewer to test the cake and it was cooked. So to avoid burning the top further, I took the cake out.

I was really impatient during the cooling stage. The cake smelled nice and I hoped it was edible. The cake didn't fall out of the mould and I started to get my hopes up.

This is the cake after it was demoulded. I should have waited for it to cool a bit more because the mould was still hot when I used a metal scraper to scrape the sides. I did a small amount of damage during the scraping. The cake looks quite horrible up close, doesn't it?

I'm really surprised the cake held the shape.

I cut myself a slice and it was good. I mean, what the f&%#? I forgot the oil. I waited for hubs to come home and asked him to try one slice. I gave him the one with the brownest top. He said it was delicious!

I checked the cake the morning after and it still held the shape and the taste was still good.

Here's my post-mortem:
1. Have a less messy table before I start baking to avoid the same mistake. I am a very messy baker and I even did the mixing on the floor because I ran out of table space. It's no wonder I left out the oil.

2. To avoid the browning of the top, I should cover with a foil in the last 15 min or so. I need to turn the pan as well as it's quite obvious there's a hot spot in my oven.

3. Add some grated orange rind next time to get texture.

4. Don't forget the oil.


Jane McLellan said...

Just goes to show, the oil wasn't essential after all! I have often left out some vital ingredient Sometimes it leads to disaster, sometimes it just leads to a new sort of bake!

Projects By Jane said...

Jane, I want to think I'm riding some sort of good luck thingy as my bakes have turned out well each time. But I want to credit the training I received at the baking school. I think they made a baker out of me! And yes, all the yelling and scolding did work.

p.s. I do believe the oil would have made the cake softer. My cake was already soft but maybe another level of softness?

Tammy said...

Wow, that cake looks great! I'll bet the oil would change the texture of the cake, that's probably all. You'll have to make another one with it to compare.

Linda said...

It's fun watching you learn to bake! What a great adventure and you are learning more than most of us will ever learn.
My mother baked wedding cakes professionally, so I have a real love of baking. In fact, I spent all day baking bread from scratch. Last week it was cake!
Have fun!

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