Chiffon fit for a lady

Lady Praline Chiffon Cake, from on-high!

Hello everyone!  And welcome to Neufangled Desserts’ very first Baked Sunday Mornings post!

When you think of the word “chiffon”, no doubt a fancy gown or ball dress comes to mind.  Sure, you might have heard of a chiffon being a kind of sponge cake, but it’s not too often you go to someone’s house for dinner and they gleefully announce at the end, “I’ve baked a wonderful chiffon for our dessert!”  Just doesn’t happen too much anymore.  Unless you’re visiting Brini Maxwell, that is.

Indeed, the chiffon cake – even by its very elegant name – definitely has the feel of one of those nostalgic cakes that was completely in vogue in the 1950s through 1970s.  According to that ‘trustworthy’ source, Wikipedia, a chiffon cake is “a very light cake made with vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings. It is a combination of both batter and foam type cakes.”  As time has gone by, chiffon cakes have been abandoned for the angel food cake – or, to be specific, and for convenience sake, the angel food cake mix courtesy of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines!

The fact that chiffon cakes have gone by the wayside is a bit of a sad thing.  As we become more ‘health-conscious’ (well, somewhat) in this day and age, eating a chiffon cake affords us the luxury  of still having an elegant dessert with a tender and moist, buttery crumb without – surprise! – a lot of excess saturated fats. It is also the perfect cake to stand up to a zesty accompaniment of fruit and berries, ice cream, whipped cream – however you want to dress it up.

Baked’s Lady Praline Chiffon Cake was a pleasant surprise to make, as it wasn’t especially difficult to whip together, and I really enjoyed the end result.  The dry ingredients and wet ingredients are put together separately, then hand-mixed together.  Don’t worry if you can’t find pecan liqueur – chances are pretty good that unless you live in the south or in a city with specialty food or liquor stores, you won’t.  I used a nice heaping tablespoon of amaretto… and even after baking the cake, I feel it could have used more (hmmm… maybe an extra drizzling of amaretto on each slice?  Why not?  It’s a tasty idea!)  It definitely would have felt more ‘southern’ to have the pecan flavor, so if you have access to it – by all means, stay true to the recipe and tell me your thoughts.

As for whipping egg whites, let me share a tip that was once taught to me, and one that I have stuck to: once you’ve started whipping those whites in the mixer, don’t walk away and check your email or start a long chat on your phone.  Keep an eye on them.  You want them to form a nice, stiff peak.  Take about a third of the whipped whites and fold them into the wet ingredients gently.  Don’t stir with a heavy hand – you want to initially ‘lighten’ the batter.  Add the remainder of the whites and keep using a gentle touch when folding them in.  Don’t worry if there are still some white lumps of whipped egg white in the batter – it’s okay!  It will all even out in the end.

Cut to show wonderful texture!

The result?  A delicate, buttery, delicious chiffon cake that is light, elegant, and slighty ethereal with a whisper of orange from the zest and a lightly sweet aftertaste of almond from the amaretto. It’s really a nice snacking cake that is easy to cut (use a good serrated knife) and eat on its own – or dress it with fruit or berries and whipped cream.  It could stand up to being the base cake for a trifle.  I may even attempt toasting it.

Like a chiffon gown, it’s extremely ladylike and fashionable – or, at least, it ought to be.  I can see fancy southern women sitting on a verandah enjoying a piece or two with some sweet tea or coffee in dainty china cups.  Maybe we can bring back the chiffon cake?  I say we give it a go.

For the recipe, visit: www.bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/08/27/in-the-oven-lady-praline-chiffon-cake

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10 thoughts on “Chiffon fit for a lady

  1. Very nice! For some reason, I’ve been reluctant about making this, but your description has inspired me! I think I’ll try it with peaches – also very Southern.

  2. Wonderful post and beautiful pictures! “Ethereal” was also the first word that came to mind when I saw the lovely light texture. And oh, toasted chiffon cake — what a delicious idea! Looking forward to reading about more of your Baked baking experiences!

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