This chiffon cake flavored with coffee and decorated with piped buttercream shamrocks is very similar to my earlier coffee chiffon cake, but with three variations.
First, I slightly increased the sugar by ¼ cup, so instead of using 1 ½ cups sugar, I used 1 ¾ cups. I thought if there was a little bit more sugar added to the whipped egg whites it would render the egg whites more stable, thus producing consistent results regardless of the humidity. The egg whites did whip to a more uniform texture. Now whether it was because of the added sugar or due to the fact that it is still winter has yet to be determined. The only way to find out is for me to make this same recipe with exactly the same proportions when it’s warmer outside. Second, I added one teaspoon of vanilla. I thought it did enhance the flavor a little bit, but the recipe itself was already good without the vanilla, so I would say vanilla is optional. Personally, I think I will keep the vanilla in the recipe since it does enhance the flavor, however slight. Third, I divided the batter among three springform pans, as opposed to two. I baked my earlier coffee chiffon cake in two springform pans so I had two very tall layers that I had to torte. This time, having three shorter layers saved me the step of having to torte the cake. I also made sure to reduce the baking time since the batter was more spread out. In my oven, all three layers were evenly baked in 23 minutes at 350 F.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself here, so let me start from the beginning. I first dissolved two tablespoons espresso coffee in ¾ cup hot water. Then, in a large bowl, I sifted together the cake flour, salt, baking powder and one cup of sugar, setting aside ¾ cup sugar for the egg whites.
To the sifted dry ingredients I made a well in the center and added the oil and dissolved coffee, and then whisked until the mixture was smooth.
Then I added the egg yolks and vanilla and whisked just until thoroughly combined and set the batter aside.
I whipped the egg whites with one teaspoon cream of tartar until medium to almost stiff, but not dry, peaks. The next step is to cut and fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.
As an aside, I just realized I had accumulated a somewhat ridiculous number of rubber spatulas, or in this case, silicon spatulas. I’m constantly scraping different bowls that I need separate spatulas for. And when I’m right in the middle of baking, I want to be able to reach into a drawer without having to rummage for whatever I need, so I hadn’t realized until recently that I had so many spatulas tucked in there. Besides, every time I visit Sur Le Table, I find it hard to resist their colorful silicon spatulas. And I won’t get into baking pans, icing tips, cake stands and other paraphernalia right now. I have a few of those too, to put it mildly. So how is this related to chiffon cake? Well, the first four spatulas to the right, three that are clear and one white, I reserve only for handling whipped egg whites, since egg whites have to be oil free when they are whipped. The three large pink ones I use for cutting and folding egg whites into the batter. And the rest, I use for everything else. Now I’m not advocating a collection of anything. I just thought I would share this quirk and perhaps find out if anyone else has a penchant for collecting more than two of anything that has to do with baking.
So now back to the business at hand. I first lightly mixed a small dollop of the egg whites with the batter, just to loosen up the batter.
Next, I placed about a third of the whipped egg whites on top of the batter, and using one of my handy large pink spatulas reserved exclusively for the task, cut right in the center like so. Then I went all the way down making sure I scraped the bottom of the bowl. I folded the batter over the whipped egg whites, rotating the bowl clockwise as I did so. And I repeated cutting and folding the whipped egg whites into the batter until there were just a few streaks visible. I repeated the process with the second third of the whipped egg whites.
The batter increased in volume as more of the whipped meringue was cut and folded in. Finally once all of the whipped egg whites were fully combined with the batter, I got this huge amount of luscious, voluminous and airy batter. Just looking at it now makes me want to bake another cake.
As I mentioned earlier, I divided the batter among three ungreased 8-inch springform pans, then very gently ran a spatula in the batter to disperse any large air pockets. I think these pans are great because they are 3” deep and since the base is wider than the pan itself, should the cake layers rise close to the top of the pan, I could easily invert the pans and have the base rest on soup cans. So into a preheated 350 F oven these went. They were baked just right at 23 minutes in my oven. I immediately inverted all three and let them hang until completely cool. Once cool, I covered the top of each pan with plastic wrap and secured it with a rubber band to keep it airtight. Then inverted all thee pans again and let them hang overnight. This step was really unnecessary, but since I didn’t have time to frost the cake until the next day, I had to devise a way to keep the layers airtight and thought I might as well let them hang to maximize the lift of the cake.
The next day, I removed the layers from the pans by simply running a knife along the sides, and then unbuckling the side lock to separate the bottom from the side of the cake pan. Then I ran the knife along the bottom of each layer to separate it from the base.
I did get some slight doming in one or two of the layers, but that’s okay. It was easily remedied by leveling the top with a serrated knife.
I usually stack the layers before I start filling to make sure the cake is level.
With a change of cake pedestals, because I’m fickle, I started to fill the layers with coffee-flavored buttercream that I tinted green, and stacked the cake.
I frosted the coffee chiffon cake with untinted coffee buttercream and, since St. Patrick’s is just around the corner, proceeded to pipe more of the green buttercream in shamrock-like shapes all over the cake. I used tip 103 for the shamrocks.
I used a star tip to pipe an old school type of shell border around the top and bottom edges of this coffee chiffon shamrock cake.
So now I proceed to quality control taste testing. I have to say I’m very biased when it comes to coffee-flavored anything. I love any kind of cake flavored with coffee, coffee ice cream, coffee bars, you name it.
The weird thing is, I don’t even drink coffee.
Anyway, yes, I liked it a lot. The cake was delicious, super moist and very soft as you would expect a chiffon cake to be. The flavor of coffee was very distinct. The coffee buttercream was also delicious and paired very well with the cake.
I will likely make another chiffon cake in the height of summer using the new sugar proportions I just experimented with here and see if I’m able to conquer the humidity and get the egg whites to whip just as well as they do in the winter. I’ll let you know whether or not it turns out well.
Meantime, let me know, do you also have a tendency to collect, without meaning to, baking paraphernalia like I do? If I’m not the only one, I would be so glad to find out. Until next time…
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso
- ¾ cup hot water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 ½ cups butter at room temperature
- ½ cup shortening (I used Spectrum)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso dissolved in ½ cup hot water
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 10-inch ungreased tube pan or three 8” x 3” round springform pans.
- Separate egg whites from egg yolks and place egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Add the coffee to the hot water and stir to dissolve.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and 1 cup of the sugar.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the oil and dissolved coffee. Whisk well to combine.
- Add yolks and vanilla and whisk just until combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer, wire whip attachment, start whipping the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Slowly add the cream of tartar. Do not add the cream of tartar all at once, rather, add it in small amounts so that it doesn’t clump and settle at the bottom.
- Gradually add the remaining ¾ cup of sugar to the egg whites while whipping at medium speed. Continue to whip until medium to stiff, but not dry, peaks. The meringue will look glossy, not dry, but neither should it be too runny or soft.
- Gently fold about a cup of the whipped egg whites into the batter to loosen up the batter.
- Add about ⅓ of the meringue into the batter, cutting and folding to combine and taking care not to deflate the egg whites.
- Repeat until all the egg whites have been incorporated into the batter. Do not over mix.
- Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan or divide among three springform pans to make three layers.
- Bake for about 45 minutes if using a tube pan or between 20 – 23 minutes if using three springform pans. Center of the cake will spring back when lightly touched.
- Immediately invert tube pan onto the neck of a bottle to cool, or if using springform pans, invert the pans and allow edges to rest on three cans of equal height.
- Let cake hang until thoroughly cool.
- Remove cake from pan by running a knife along the side of the pan. Run a knife underneath the cake to separate it from the bottom of the pan.
- Note: once the coffee is dissolved in hot water, bring the mixture to room temperature first before adding it to the butter.
- Cream butter until light and fluffy.
- Add salt, vanilla and dissolved coffee. Mix until well incorporated.
- At low speed gradually add powdered sugar. Beat until well blended.
- Optional: tint buttercream as desired.
- Use tip 103 if piping shamrocks.
Coffee Chiffon Shamrock Cake for St. Patrick’s