Friday, 24 October 2014

'寿' Chocolate Coffee Chiffon Cake with Mocha Cream

My friend requested for a small chocolate coffee cake for her mum's birthday with a longevity peach theme so I made this three-layered chocolate coffee cake with mocha cream and snowskin "fondant" decorations :).

Yes, there's a peach. A tiny one for the "点" :p. But I made lots of peach blossoms to accompany it.

I adapted the recipe for the sponge cake and cream from Joy of Baking.

Recipe for chocolate coffee cake (makes one 6" round cake and one 10" flat layer cake*)
3 egg yolks
37g caster sugar
60g canola oil
90g cake flour
20g cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli)
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
80ml coffee (I dissolved 1 tsp of UCC instant coffee powder in 80ml of hot water. Set aside to cool to room temperature.)
10g fresh milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp kirsch (optional)

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
68g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and place the rack at the second lowest position.  Line the square tray with baking sheet. If your 6" round tin has no removable base, line the base with baking sheet too. Mine was removable so I didn't line it. Wrap the 6" tin with cake strips if you wish. I wrapped mine with homemade cake strips made from wet newspaper wrapped in aluminum foil. If you don't use cake strips, reduce baking time by 5-10 minutes.  *Alternatively, you may bake three 6" round layer cakes if you have enough pans. Adjust baking time accordingly. 

2. Prepare the egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and all sugar has dissolved. Add oil and whisk until thick like mayonnaise. Add coffee, milk, vanilla extract and kirsch. Whisk until well combined. Gradually add in sifted flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

3. Prepare the meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat unil soft peaks form. Gradually add in sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

4. Fold in the meringue into the egg yolk batter in three additions.

5. Scoop enough batter to line the base of the square tin and pour the rest slowly into the 6" round tin. Bake the thin layer cake for 10 minutes. Immediately remove from tray and carefully peel off the baking sheet. Cool completely with another sheet over it. Bake the 6" cake at 160°C for 15 minutes followed by 150°C for 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Remember to adjust baking time accordingly if you are not using cake strips. Leave to cool on cooling rack before unmoulding by hand or spatula.

Slice the cake carefully into three layers with a serrated knife. Double wrap each layer in cling wrap and freeze it. Rigid cakes are easier to assemble with cream.

6. Carefully cut the layer cake to form the "寿" character (it means longevity in Chinese). Double wrap it in cling wrap tightly and freeze it. It will be easier to place a thin rigid cake onto the assembled cake than a soft floppy one. You may brush some syrup on the cake to prevent it from being too dry. But since it's a decorative piece you may omit this step.

I couldn't resist eating the trimmed portions of the 6" cake (There was a small dome as it was a tall cake. Baking flat layer cakes won't have this issue.) and couldn't stop eating! And this is coming from me, a non-chocolate fanatic. The cake is so fragrant, flavorful, soft and fluffy!

Recipe for snowskin decorations
36g kou fen (cooked glutinous rice flour)
36g icing sugar
12g vegetable shortening
60g water
1/4 tsp pandan flavouring
Cocoa powder
Pink and green food colouring (if you are using gel food coloring, dissolve it in a bit of water)

1. Make the snowskin. Sift together sugar and kou fen into a bowl. Combine water, pandan flavouring and shortening in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat and stir until shortening melts. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a spatula until a dough forms. Leave it to rest for 15 minutes to cool. Knead until smooth. Divide the dough up for colouring.

2. Colour the pieces accordingly with food colouring. Tools I used are a flower cookie cutter, fine brush for painting the flowers, butter knife to make imprints on the flowers and for cutting the stems. Dust the dough with a bit of kou fen if it gets too sticky to work with.

3. Store the pieces in air tight container in the fridge until ready to assemble. You may make this a day in advance.

Recipe for mocha cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kirsch (optional)
75g icing sugar
22g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp instant coffee powder
1.5 cups cold heavy whipping cream (I used a dairy cream with stabilizers added so it wasn't necessary to further stabilize with gelatin.)

1. Add all ingredients except cream in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tbs of cream and mix well with a spatula/ whisk. Gradually add the rest of the cream, mixing well with each addition.
2. Use an electric mixer to beat the chilled cream until just stiff peaks form. Place the mixing bowl in an ice bath to keep the cream cold.

Cake assembly
1. Place one frozen 6" layer on a cake board mounted on a turntable. Apply a layer of cream on top, letting some cream fall over the edge of the cake. Place another frozen cake to sandwich thr cream, pressing it down firmly and let any excess cream bleed out from the sides. Repeat until all three layers are assembled.

2. Place a large dollop of cream on top of the cake and use a large offset spatula to press the cream down. Cover the sides with cream. Many experts recommend crumb coating the cake first before applying another layer of cream.  I intended to do that but the first layer of coating stayed so well and the cream was so easy to work with that I just proceeded with creaming the whole cake!

3. Add on the snowskin fondant decorations carefully. I got a bit careless since it's my first time decorating a cake this way so I accidentally messed up bits of the cream. Oh well :p.

I had leftover layer cake and some cream so I made a "plank" cake!

Preliminary test for log cake :p.

Hubby and my parents sampled this and said the flavour of cake with cream is superb without being too sweet. My mum took the rest of the leftovers to share with my extended family and immediately booked me for a logcake with this flavour!

Update: My friend said everyone found the cake beautiful and her mum liked the taste of it. The cream was good. Opinion for the sponge cake was divided though with half of the family liking it and the other half not. I suspect that I didn't wrap the cakes tightly enough before freezing so the texture was affected, quite different from what it was freshly baked. I might also bake 3 separate thin layer cakes in the future instead of one tall cake sliced into three. Great learning experience for me :).

With love,
Phay Shing

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