Why don’t people make cakes from scratch anymore? Not big fancy, special occasion type cakes but every day kind of cakes. They’re so much easier than their flashy counterparts and such a treat to have around the house. I’m talking about the kind haphazardly wrapped on the kitchen counter from which tiny wedges disappear throughout the day. The type that goes beautifully with your afternoon tea or suffices as breakfast-on-the-go in the car. A few posts ago I made an angel food cake and wished I had a coffee klatch to kvetch with over a piece of cake. I’ve never even been to a coffee klatch but I know this cake would have been perfect. Klatch-less, I ended up eating most of it myself. I couldn’t help it; the cake was delicious. It got me to thinking about other cakes like this, recipes some might consider old fashioned and many have forgotten.
Curious, I rustled through my shelves for my little culinary school notebook and started flipping through … Pound Cake, Chiffon, Spongecake, Pineapple Upside-Down. Oh my. Then came the fancier cakes like Black Forest, German Chocolate, Genoise, Dobos Torte, Roulades. Classics. They were great, yet I haven’t made most of them since. Why not? I took another look at the recipe for Orange Chiffon and instantly thought summertime. It’s a nice and light cake, perhaps a bit plain but perfect with the season’s berries or just a cup of tea. Maybe it was time to revisit.
Chiffon Cakes always struck as a little odd, a little dowdy even. It’s like an angel food cake aerated with whipped egg whites but the batter also includes egg yolks and some vegetable oil. After being constantly hammered in class to keep our egg whites pristine for egg foam cakes and meringues, free of any trace of fat, it was strange to think of adding fat back into the batter. Plus, it’s baked in a tube pan, that old granny of a pan, with the empty center core necessary for proper baking. But the result is a moist, light cake that works well with various fillings, frostings and sauces and the oil adds help it keep longer than the average cake.
The Orange Chiffon Cake from class was calling to me and I decided to make a version with bright, tangy passionfruit. I had some puree taking up too much room in my freezer and a friend with a fondness for the tropical fruit. A little lime brightens the flavor even more and the result is a moist but lightly flavored cake. It was nice but a little plain. It needed something. A super bright, tangy glaze made simply with the puree and powdered sugar did the trick and helped create a sort of seal, helping the cake last even longer. I had a few slices straight up and then some later with strawberries and ice cream. Both were delightful and a welcome addition to my summer cake rotation.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: SUMMERTIME IN THE CITY. Really now, the perfect summer dessert is a nice little slice of cake that plays back up dancer to the seasons all star berries. This one reminds me of a “ladies who lunch” type of cake and a delicate little slice would not be out of place at any summer gathering but works equally well as a quick breakfast, a speedy snack or yes, that thing you bring to that klatch like gathering. You could easily vary the flavor for a lemon, lime or orange flavor but I rather like the tartness passionfruit brings to the party. Just a little bit different.
on the blog four years ago: Cajun Ginger Cookies
on the blog three years ago: Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
on the blog two year ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie & Lard Pie Crust
on the blog one year ago: Ricotta Cheesecake
other cake recipes (I’ve made a lot): Lime Angel Food Cake, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Chocolate Lard Bourbon Cake, Very Lemon Loaf Cake, Irish Whiskey Cake, Chocolate Snack Cake, Banana Fudge Cake, Southern Coconut Layer Cake, Simple Apple Cake, Plum Kuchen, Flag Cake (Red Velvet), Almond Tea Cake, Marmalade Yogurt Cake, Pumpkin Bundt Cake
PASSIONFRUIT CHIFFON CAKE
Makes one 10” cake, serves 12
For the cake:
2 1/3 cups cake flour (10 ounces)
¾ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup vegetable oil
zest of 1 lime, about 1 Tablespoon
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup passionfruit puree
5 large egg yolks
½ cup large egg whites (about 3-4)
¾ cup sugar
for the glaze:
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
4 ½ Tablespoons passionfruit puree
pinch of kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Line the bottom of a 10” tube pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Sift the flour, ¾ cup of sugar, salt and baking powder and set aside until needed.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lime zest, lime juice, passionfruit puree and egg yolks until well blended. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, start to whip the egg whites on low adding the final ¾ cup sugar in a slow steady stream.
- Once all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat the whites to soft peak (aka the “Dairy Queen” effect.)
- Combine the sifted dry ingredients with the passionfruit mixture and stir until just incorporated.
- Fold in the beaten egg whites in three additions, stirring each addition until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, no more than ¾ full. Do not overfill – it’s better to make a few muffins on the side than have your cake overflow all over the oven.
- Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back to the touch.
- Remove the cake from the oven and sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of sugar over the top.
- To cool, rest the pan upside down on a wire rack. Cool completely. The cake should slowly release itself but if it doesn’t, carefully run a sharp paring knife around the edge the ease the cake out of the pan.
- Remove and discard the parchment circle.
- For the glaze: in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, passionfruit puree and a pinch of salt until smooth and an easily pourable consistency.
- Place the cake on a wire rack set over a piece of parchment and drizzle the glaze on top, letting it drip down the sides. Let set for an hour or so until dry and no longer tacky to the touch. Serve with berries, ice cream or frost and fill as desired.
- The cake will keep for several days if tightly wrapped.