This cake is flavored with espresso both in the cake and the whipped fat-free frosting, hence the name Double Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake. I know there’s a little bit of redundancy in the name, but its intention is to emphasize the double dose of coffee. I baked this cake in the late days of summer, when the temperature was about 92° F outside. Every once in a while I get a hankering for whipping egg whites, and baking a chiffon cake was the perfect excuse to do just that.
This cake is similar to my previous coffee chiffon lace cake and coffee chiffon shamrock cake, but I made a slight variation to my earlier recipes by adding a little bit more sugar to the meringue portion of the cake, which I think made the meringue even more stable. It also seemed to increase the lift of the cake. I baked those two earlier cakes in springform pans, so I thought I would use a 2-piece tube pan this time.
Here are the ingredients to make this cake. All these ingredients combined will yield a huge amount of fluffy cake batter.
Mix the coffee batter. Basically, start with making a well in the center of the sifted dry ingredients. Best to use a large bowl as the batter will greatly increase in volume after the meringue is folded in. Add the coffee and oil and whisk until blended. Then add the egg yolks and vanilla and whisk further just until smooth. Set this aside to work on the meringue.
Whip the egg whites. Start beating the egg whites on low increasing to medium speed. When the egg whites start to take shape, slowly add the cream of tartar. If you add the cream of tartar all at once, it will tend to clump at the bottom of the bowl. Beat on medium speed for a few minutes until the egg whites slightly increase in volume, then start gradually adding the sugar. Once the sugar is all added, continue beating on medium until the meringue reaches medium to stiff but not dry peaks. This time, instead of increasing the speed to high, I just left the speed on medium the entire time.
Cut and fold. I always use a different spatula to transfer the meringue into the coffee batter. First place a small amount of meringue into the coffee batter to aerate and lighten it up. Then add about 1/3 of the meringue to the batter and, with a few swift strokes, cut right down the center scraping the bottom of the bowl, and folding the batter over the meringue. Turn the bowl slightly clockwise each time you fold the batter over. When there are just a few streaks left, add the second third of the meringue and repeat. Once all the meringue is added, the batter will be light, fluffy and voluminous.
Pour the batter into an ungreased two-piece tube pan that is not non-stick and bake for about 45 minutes.
Here’s the cake still baking in the oven with about 10 minutes left to go. It’s definitely looking like an overachiever, more like a pillow bursting out of the pan. The cake is done when it springs back when lightly touched. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert it. I usually insert a glass bottle in the center tube to suspend the cake, but this time the cake had risen so far above the tube that the bottle wouldn’t work. So I just placed a can underneath each of the three prongs. Allow the cake to completely cool at least two hours before removing from the pan.
To remove the chiffon cake from the tube pan, start by sliding a knife around the sides of the pan. Then push the bottom piece upwards to lift the cake out of the pan. To separate the cake from the inner tube, slide a knife first around the center tube. Then slide the knife along the bottom of the cake to detach it. Gently flip the cake over onto a cake plate. Divide the cake, slicing horizontally with a serrated knife, to make 3 layers.
Instead of buttercream, I thought I would use this light whipped espresso frosting this time. It’s just made of egg whites, sugar, water, cream of tartar and flavored with espresso and vanilla. The sugar and water are boiled on high heat until it forms a syrup with a temperature between 240° F – 250° F. I always play it safe and remove the pot as soon as the temperature reaches 240° F. The molten syrup is slowly poured into the egg whites in a tiny stream while beating the egg whites on medium low speed. The frosting will be thick yet light, fluffy, smooth and delicious. Kind of like coffee-flavored marshmallows. If you add about 6 sticks of butter to the fluffy frosting you’ll end up with meringue buttercream, which is also good but a lot richer. I like this frosting just as it is, very thick and light without the fat.
As for decorating the cake, easy works for me anytime. I love my icing comb. Basically, just cover the cake in a thick layer of frosting then go around it with the icing comb to remove the excess. A turntable is a big help with frosting a cake.
I’m neither a coffee nor tea drinker. So the only time I have coffee is when I have it in cake or ice cream.
The texture of the cake was soft and so moist, with its coffee flavor further enhanced by the whipped fat-free espresso frosting.
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso (decaffeinated instant coffee will also work)
- ¾ cup hot water
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil (use a light oil such as canola)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 6 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 10-inch ungreased 2-piece tube pan.
- Separate egg whites from egg yolks and place egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Add the instant espresso to the hot water and stir to dissolve.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and 1 ¼ cups sugar.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the oil and dissolved coffee. Whisk well to combine.
- Add yolks and vanilla and whisk until smooth and well blended. Set aside.
- Using the wire whip attachment of a stand mixer, 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.
- Still on medium speed, gradually add ¾ cups sugar to the egg whites. 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 a small amount of egg whites, around 1 cup, into the coffee batter to aerate and loosen up the batter.
- Add about ⅓ of the meringue into the coffee batter, cutting and folding with swift strokes to combine and taking care not to deflate the meringue. Turn the bowl clockwise each time the batter is folded over.
- Add half of the remaining meringue into the batter. Cut and fold to combine with the batter. Add the last third of the meringue and continue cutting and folding until well blended. Do not over mix.
- Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for about 45 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when lightly touched.
- Remove cake from oven to cool. It must be inverted immediately and suspended above table or countertop. There are two ways to do this: 1) if the cake has not risen above the level of the pan, you can turn the pan upside down and allow it to stand on the center tube. However, if the cake has risen above the level of the tube, I carefully insert a small glass bottle into the tube to suspend the cake. 2) some tube pans have three prongs on the outside edges of the pan; the pan can also be inverted by allowing it to rest on those three prongs. If the cake happens to be higher than the level of the prongs, rest each prong on a can to elevate the pan.
- Allow the cake to completely cool for at least 2 hours.
- To remove the cake from the tube pan, first slide a knife around the edges of the pan. Then gently push up on the flat bottom piece of the pan and push it up from the pan. Then run a knife along the center tube to loosen it from the center. Run the knife again along the bottom to separate it from the bottom piece. Gently invert the cake onto a cake plate.
- Slice the cake horizontally to make 3 layers using a serrated knife.
- Dissolve the espresso in 1 tablespoon of hot water. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Place the sugar in a saucepan on the stove top. Pour the water over the sugar. You can swirl the saucepan so the water is evenly distributed. Do not worry about stirring. Place a candy thermometer in the pan to measure the temperature of the syrup once it starts to boil. Turn the heat to high to bring sugar and water to a rapid boil. Do not stir the syrup.
- Meantime, start whipping egg whites on medium using a wire whip attachment. Once the egg whites start to take shape. Slowly add the cream of tartar.
- Back to the stovetop, when the syrup reaches between 240° F – 250° F, remove the saucepan from the heat. Switch mixer speed to medium low and, in a very thin stream, slowly pour ⅓ of the syrup into the egg whites. Pour the hot syrup in between beater and the bowl, avoiding the beater.
- Return the saucepan to the stove top. Turn the heat back on to bring the temperature of the syrup back up to between 240° F – 250° F. Meantime, continue beating the egg whites and increase the speed of the mixer back up to medium high, about 2 minutes.
- Once the syrup is back between 240° F – 250° F, remove from heat.
- Reduce mixer speed to medium low. Add half of remaining syrup very slowly in a thin stream to the frosting.
- Return the saucepan to the stovetop to bring the temperature of the remaining syrup back between 240° F – 250° F. Increase mixer speed to medium high while syrup is boiling.
- Once the last third of the syrup is back between 240° F – 250° F, slowly pour it into the frosting with the mixer speed on medium low. When all the syrup has been added, the bowl will be hot to the touch. Increase mixer speed to medium high and whip for about 5 – 6 minutes until frosting reaches stiff peaks and has tripled in volume.
- Slowly add the dissolved espresso, then the vanilla. Whip for about 1 – 2 minutes more until completely incorporated.
- Use frosting immediately. Fill cake layers and cover with frosting.
Double Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake with Fat-Free Frosting