baking therapy: chocolate chiffon cake

I recently purchased the Tartine Bakery cookbook and it is wonderful! The recipes are well written and clear, the photos are beautiful and now I get to learn the secrets behind of the tasty delights from Tartine that I love so much!

For our second Thanksgiving dinner with Jordan’s parents, my parents and their neighbors, I spearheaded the dessert course armed with my new cookbook. There are so many wonderful things to choose from, but I decide to go with something relatively easy.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Vanilla Pastry Cream

I’ll briefly describe the recipe. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix egg yolks, water, and oil. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Add lemon juice and zest. Fold these three mixtures together and pour into a springform pan. Bake for about an hour in a 325 degree oven. Let cool and then unmold.

You’ll end up with a four inch tall, very impressive looking cake. I was pretty proud when that puppy came out of the oven … and didn’t collapse.

The pastry cream is like making any sort of custard. Whole milk, salt, eggs, sugar, vanilla bean, and cornstarch plus heat. Also fairly easy, but requires a great deal of attention. There is no going back from burnt milk or curdled eggs!

Conclusions: The cake was good – chocolatey, moist, of the appropriate density. The vanilla bean pastry cream might just be my new favorite accompaniment. I can’t really think of anything that wouldn’t be good with it! A sprinkling of fresh berries would have made this dessert outstanding. Next time!


By The Answer is Always Pork

Cooking and Eating in San Francisco

11 replies on “baking therapy: chocolate chiffon cake”

I’ve got the book, thanks though! After much googling I wonder if I underbaked–on most cakes you worry about overbaking but perhaps chiffons are different. My oven is off as well–it’s hard to believe that after 70 minutes it’s not done but I think that’s what happened. I recently broke my second oven thermometer but I suppose I really can’t do without it. Thanks for you help and advice! I also see that you are in SF so you can go to Tartine anytime you want–so many amazing food places in SF.

I think under baking could be it! My oven also runs hot, which might explain why it was done in just an hour.

SF is heaven for food! I am so thrilled to live here! You can eat amazing and could even get away without cooking … not many places are like that. We are so fortunate.

And Tartine is absolutely amazing! Have you ever been?

I have this book, and made the cake today. I didn’t read the recipe through before I got started and freaked out about the inclusion of lemon juice/zest in a chocolate cake. I left out the lemon juice. The book doesn’t mention the using the lemon juice … I was wondering if that was an error in the book. Chocolate and lemon, does that make sense? Definitely doesn’t lend itself to the salted-caramel frosting my wife wanted to use. We might have to go the pastry cream route as well.

Hi, so I don’t recall the cake having a particularly lemony flavor at all. My guess would be that I also left out most of the lemon juice. 1/4 cup does seem like a crazy amount of lemon juice for a chocolate cake. In the basic chiffon cake recipe they say to use 1/4 tsp of lemon juice or cream of tartar to help with the meringue-ing of the eggs. Maybe it is just a big typo?!?

Let me know how your cake turned out? I hope well!

Well, the lemon zest did make it into the cake before I started thinking about it being weird. The cake came out light, not as tall as yours. My wife sampled a crumb and said it was okay to put the salted caramel frosting on it. That was a mistake. The lemon would have played with berries and pastry cream, or just solo with tea but not with salted caramel. Also not a good idea – separating into 2 layers and frosting in between. Just like an angel food cake, a chiffon is a strong rubbery cake that provides much resistance to the fork. A stiff buttercream, kept cold, might have been able to keep the layers in tact while eating but the viscosity of the frosting we picked couldn’t hold up to it. In the end, some neighborhood kids were by and wanted a slice. I told them the cake wasn’t right but they could sample the frosting. (I’m not used to dealing with kids. They took things a little too far – what a mess!)

I need to put this whole episode behind me. I’ll try that Tartine Devils Food next – the dusted cake crumbs looks really nice.

Oh no! How disappointing! 🙁 That is such a bummer.

The pastry cream is divine, you should try it. It goes with anything. I like it plain.

Also, this is my favorite chocolate cake recipe. It turns out perfectly with very little effort. Much easier than the touchy Tartine recipes. I’ve done it with a ricotta filling, with chocolate or vanilla buttercream, and with fresh fruit. I bet your salted caramel frosting would be great with it!

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