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.
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