Passionfruit Chiffon Cake
Chiffon cake is anything but a lightweight when lined up with classic bakes like butter cake or even Swiss Roll. It stands tall and proud with an airy and cottony soft texture with no rival when it is perfectly baked. Master two techniques — whipping egg whites and folding — and you’ll be baking chiffon often.
Chiffon is said to be ‘invented’ by American Harry Baker in the 1920s. It was hugely popular yet Baker, for reasons only known to him, guarded the recipe for two decades before selling it to General Mills. Chiffon cake was later introduced under house brand, Betty Crocker.
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves: 8 pieces
A: Egg Yolk Mixture
4 egg yolks, approximately 60g
40g caster sugar
70ml pure passionfruit juice
1 teaspoon passionfruit pulp
100g self-raising flour, sifted*
75ml cooking oil
B: Egg White Mixture
5 egg whites, approximately 180g
45g caster sugar
C: Passionfruit Glaze
Pulp of 1 passionfruit
1 teaspoon passionfruit juice
65g icing sugar or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Place oven rack in bottom third of the oven; this ensures that cake top is positioned right in the middle while it bakes.
2. To extract passionfruit juice: scoop out pulp from 2-3 medium fruits. Place pulp inside a muslin bag. Squeeze out as much juice to get 70ml. Alternatively, place pulp inside a sieve and press out the juice. Discard seeds.
3. Egg yolk mixture: Using a whisk, beat yolks together with sugar until well mixed. Pour in oil. Add in passionfruit juice and pulp, mixing until fully incorporated. Just 1 teaspoon of pulp suffices; adding more may cause seeds to sink to the base of the cake pan.
4. Using a spatula, gently slowly fold flour into yolk mixture in 2-3 additions until blended. Do not overmix.
5.Egg white mixture: In a cake mixer, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. Next, add caster sugar in 3 additions, then gradually increase speed. Beat until firm peaks form.
6. Using a spatula, fold 1/3 of whipped egg whites into egg yolk mixture to lighten the batter. Next, gently fold in another third until whites are fully incorporated. Fold this mixture into remaining egg whites until well blended. Do not over mix.
7. Pour batter into an ungreased 18cm chiffon cake pan. Holding cake pan 5cm above kitchen counter, gently drop pan onto the counter. This causes bubbles inside cake batter to rise up to the surface and pop, to ensure cake texture is void of air pockets.
8. Bake cake for 30 minutes. Open oven door to cover cake with aluminium foil or a round plate – this prevents cake top from getting burnt. Continue baking another 10 minutes.
9. Adjust temperature to bottom heat by turning oven knob (if using analog) to lower grill – heat will emanate from the grill to cook base of cake. Bake another 10 minutes. Switch oven setting to fan mode – continue baking another 5-8 minutes to ensure the entire cake has even heat circulation to cook it through. Once cooked, remove cake from oven.
10. Tap pan on kitchen counter top to release trapped air bubbles. Invert cake pan immediately. Prop cake up onto 3 upturned mugs.
11. Allow cake to cool down for 30 minutes-1 hour before unmoulding. A well made chiffon has tall sides.
Do not cut cake at this stage. It is extremely fragile and will collapse while it is cooling down.
12. Once cake has completely cooled down, prepare glaze. Blend icing sugar with passionfruit juice. Spoon it over cake top, then leave icing to set.
13. Cut open 1-2 passionfruits; using a teaspoon, scoop out pulp and spread it on top of glaze.
Slice cake and serve.
TIPS: This recipe uses an18cm chiffon tube pan. It must be ungreased. As the cake rises, it will ‘climb’ and cling to the tube and tall sides of the pan. The crumb will firm up and retain its shape when the cake is thoroughly cooked. If under-baked, cake will collapse owing to its fragile and delicate crumb texture. On the other hand, the sides of the cake will turn dark brown and dry if baking is prolonged.
To extract more passionfruit juice, choose ripe fruit – they have wrinkly skins and are generally heavy, a good indication that it has juicy pulp that is bursting with fruity flavours.
NOTE: Substitute with cake flour mixed with ¾ tsp baking powder.
Photos: Michelle Woon Pik Yee