I did nothing on this blog for about 9 months. Recently I was prompted to renew the domain name. It took me awhile to decide if I still want to continue blogging. I absolutely love baking and I want to share all about it. But baking and blogging about baking can be very different. The things I always struggle when comes to blogging are writing and photography. I know both skills are totally learnable but I always find it tough to master them especially when after reading some amazing blogs that showcase good writing and awesome photographs. I wonder why some people have multi-talents like these. Instead of feeling motivated, I felt demoralized.
I scrolled back to read every single of the posts I did, thinking to give it one last look before letting it go. But as I scrolled and read, I was transported back to the happy days when enthusiasm was all I had, spent all my spare time working on this blog. This was when I realized that I am not ready to let those efforts go down the hole yet and so I went ahead to renew the domain name for another year and paid a small sum for it. Now I don’t care if anyone really read my blog, but this space is my stress reliever, my happy little space and these are good enough reasons for me to continue.
To make things easier and less stressful for myself, I decided to try this: Take photos of the product with just the phone camera, editing them on the go when I commute to work and during lunchtime, using Lightroom app and VSCO app on my mobile phone. I know the photo quality is “not there” but my focus is to share good recipes and tips, and I have come to accept the fact that I might need a longer time than most to master photography. So yeah. The photos I used here are all taken from the phone camera. I hope it’s not too bad.
Now, let’s talk about this chiffon cake. I would say this is a low sugar cake since it uses maple syrup for sweetness and only a small amount of refined white sugar for the meringue. The main flavour came from the maple syrup so use a good one if possible. Chiffon cake can actually be quite simple to make as long as you understand the basis of it. I found this video to be extremely helpful. The video is in Mandarin so for those of you who do not understand the language, I have tried my best to write the recipe using the tips from the video.
I chose to frost the cake with maple-sweetened whipped cream and added some crunch with caramelized nuts. The combination of the maple cake, cream, and caramel nuts really goes well together giving the otherwise plain and boring cake an interesting appeal.
Maple and Caramel Nuts Chiffon Cake
- 5 egg yolks
- 60g grapeseed oil/canola oil
- 80g maple syrup
- 90g cake flour
- 5 egg whites
- 50g caster sugar
- 10g cornflour
- 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
Preheat oven to 150C. Prepare an ungreased 20cm chiffon cake tube pan.
After separating the egg whites from the yolks, place the egg whites in the refrigerator to chill. Chilled egg whites produce a finer meringue.
Combine egg yolks, maple syrup and oil in a bowl and mix well. Sift in flour and mix. You can mix using the zigzag method as shown in the video. This method of mixing could limit the development of gluten. Mix until the batter becomes sticky and lines can be seen when you lift up the whisk to draw ribbons. The lines should also disappear right away. You can set this aside now.
Make the meringue. Take out the egg whites from the refrigerator. Beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. At this point, you can add the lemon juice which aids in a smoother meringue (optional). Add one-third of the sugar and beat on medium speed (KitchenAid speed 4) until no big bubbles. You should see a smooth and shiny appearance. Now add the remaining sugar, beat on low speed first to properly combine the sugar into the meringue. Increase speed to high (KitchenAid speed 6) and beat until soft peaks form. Sift in cornflour and use the whisk to “press in” the cornflour. Continue to beat on medium speed (KitchenAid speed 4) until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be glossy. Finally, beat the meringue on the lowest speed (KitchenAid speed 1) for one minute to release any large air bubbles that might have been trapped. Now your meringue is ready to use.
Scoop one-third of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture and fold lightly until well combined. Add this mixture into the remaining meringue and fold by drawing a line in the middle with the spatula and turn towards one side of the bowl, scooping the mixture up and fold it back down. Turn the bowl as you fold so you get to mix every part of the mixture. When you lift up the spatula, the batter should flow down slowly. So what if the batter drips down like water? That means it is overmixed. Sorry.
Pour the batter into the chiffon tube pan and smooth the surface with the spatula or spoon. Tap the pan on the kitchen counter once or twice to break up large bubbles. Use a chopstick and draw horizontal lines over the top of the batter to remove surface bubbles.
Bake on the lower rack for 45-50 minutes. The reason for baking at the lower rack is to ensure the cake get the heat in the middle of the oven since chiffon cake tends to be taller. The cake should puff up to its maximum height and when it shrinks back a little, the cake is done. Remove from the oven.
Tap the cake on the kitchen counter once and immediately turn it over to cool completely before removing the cake from the pan. The cake should feel dry to touch and springs back when you do the finger press.
Maple Whipped Cream
- 250g heavy cream, chilled
- 40g maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Cover cake with maple whipped cream using a spatula and turntable.
- 1/2 cup of nuts*, chopped and lightly toasted
- 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp water
Place sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Watch the pan as the sugar syrup colour. As soon as the syrups begin to turn brown, add the nuts, reduce the heat to low and stir the nuts quickly into the syrup. Stir for 1 minute. Syrup threads may start to cling to the nuts. Remove the nuts and place it on a heatproof plate. Once cool, break into smaller pieces and decorate the cake with it.
*For the nuts, I bought pre-baked mixed nuts that contain almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts. You can use just one type of nuts or you can use any kind of mix, it doesn’t matter.