Friday, 30 August 2019

Dairy-Free Blackforest Chiffon Cake

My friend sent me a picture of her daughter lying on a field and reading, and asked if I could make something like that for her daughter's birthday. I thought long and hard about the various genres of bakes I could use to make this and finally settled on chiffon cake since I think it is the best medium for this theme. It is the first time I made a full-bodied human figurine so I am glad it came out quite decently! Presenting my chiffon creation on top of a dairy-free naked blackforest cake!

Instead of cooked dough method for making chocolate chiffon, I tried doing it the regular chiffon way but bloomed the cocoa powder in boiling water instead of sifting together with cake flour. Blooming cocoa powder for bakes helps to intensify the chocolate flavour. I baked three 9" round layers. My friend's kids are allergic to dairy at some degree so the whole bake had to be dairy free.

Recipe for dairy-free chocolate chiffon cake
Ingredients (makes three 9" layers):
Egg yolk batter 
9 egg yolks
95g cake flour
50g Dutch processed (alkalized) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
102g canola/vegetable oil
108g boiling water
2.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Kahlua coffee liqueur

9 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
150g caster sugar

Note: divide the meringue ingredients into three to bake the layers individually unless you are able to bake all three at once.

Steps :
1. Dissolve cocoa powder in boiling water in a small mixing bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to cool. Preheat oven to 150°C, set oven rack to second lowest position. Line bottom of baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks until thicker in consistency and paler in appearance. Add oil and whisk until we'll combined. Add cocoa and water mixture and whisk until combined. Add vanilla and coffee liqueur and whisk until combined. Gradually sift in flour and salt and whisk until no trace of flour is seen. Divide the batter into three equal portions if baking one layer at a time.

3. Prepare meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks or just reach stiff peaks while gradually adding in castor sugar once the egg whites are foamy.

4. Quickly but gently fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter in three additions. Pour batter into prepared baking tray. Gently run a chopstick around the batter to pop any air bubbles.

5. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 135°C and bake for another 30-35min or until top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before unmoulding by hand or gently using a spatula. Cool on cooling rack with a other parchment paper over it. Not that baking time and temperature varies from oven to oven so adjust accordingly.

I assembled the cake using non-dairy whipping cream and cherries. I brushed the surface of the cake with simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar and water) before putting on the cream.

Using acetate sheet to surround the cake helps with neat assembly. 

I covered the naked blackforest cake with a thin layer of chiffon sheet cake before mounting the figurine on top. The most challenging part of the figurine was figuring out how to make the arms holding a book as it is a little gravity defying. I made the book out of bean paste dough as I thought bean paste is more suitable for the look of a book. I bought the recipe from a talented baking friend so am unable to share the exact recipe but you may refer to this post for my experience of making the dough. It is like fondant except that it is a lot less sweet and tastes like bean flavoured mochi. The figurine is made of dairy free vanilla chiffon sponge. I used a combination of thin sheets of chiffons and chiffon baked in small moulds to create the figurine.

Here is a peek at the works in progress state of the figurine. Looks a little spooky 😂

Thank God I managed to pull it off!

With love,
Phay Shing

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