Charcoal Chiffon Cake

The boy is turning 9 months old and is becoming more independent. Of course he’s been rather active with all the crawling around and pulling out of stuff from the shelves. Still, it’s manageable. The girl is back to school and we have our routines rather established. These days, when I’m in the kitchen, I would deploy the help of the girl to look after her brother and more often than not, she would gladly do so.

So the mind began to wander and I started to wonder if I should go back to baking, to do some freelance work or to start a small online business. I’m not saying that I have a lot of pockets of free time. In fact, I have often been stretched. But I do need to do something else apart from the mundane of household chores and teaching the kids. I need to continue to hone my skills, to be current and to continue to use the language in both spoken and written form to communicate with adults. Being a SAHM for the past four years has reduced my vocabulary by quite a fair bit and I can’t let this go on.

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And I started baking. A chocolate cake. But when I was about to dress it up, the chocolate ganache melted terribly in the heat. That day, the boy suddenly developed fever, a low grade one of 38C and then hit 38.8C in the afternoon. Must be the effect of teething. Throughout the night, his temperature soared and we kept sponging him and resorted to giving him paracetamol in the end.

The girl? She developed a cough and did so through the night.

All my wandering thoughts came to a halt that day. Is this a sign? Is Someone telling me to stay focussed on what I’m doing? 

I have no answer.

Nevertheless, I went on to bake a charcoal chiffon cake because I had promised to bring a cake to a gathering. At least, this turned out awesome, all thanks to the wonderful recipe by Chef Yamashita.

So I’m reminded that in life, there are often no easy answers. However, we can always pray and wait for His directions for us.

That being said, this black beauty is truly worth your time baking. I gave some to my mom and she called the following day and asked me if I had bought or baked it. This is coming from a food critic, mind you.

So, if you need some firm answers in life, bake this cake. This recipe is taken from Chef Yamashita’s cookbook – Tanoshii Ke-Ki.

Charcoal Chffon cake (with slight adaptations from original recipe)

(A)
90g cake flour
3g baking powder
10g charcoal powder

(B)
4 egg yolks
30g castor sugar
40g virgin coconut oil
70g Hokkaido milk

(C) Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

:: I used eggs that weigh 55g each
:: I placed the chiffon tin on the lower third of the oven.
:: Charcoal powder can be purchased from Alin Bakery House.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together (A) cake flour, baking powder and charcoal powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare (B) egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add coconut oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Prepare (C) meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.img_1982
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue into egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.Slice to serve.

Friday the 13th’s baking: lessons learnt

The thing about baking is that it continues to baffle me no matter how many times I bake a certain item. Each time the result is different, depending on the weather, the temperature of the oven or ingredients or even the temperament of the baker. It humbles me, no doubt, and thus I stay intrigued by this craft.

Yesterday, I was to bake two items. One was a birthday cake in the form of Captain American’s shield likened to the one that I had baked earlier. The other would be 15 lemon meringue tartlets for a lady who requested for them via my FB page.

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I had baked these two items before and thought I could relax as I know the various steps involved. For the cake, I chose to bake a Belgian Chocolate Truffle Cake which was different from the vanilla sponge cake that I used to bake. It was easy to bake but this cake is much more fragile and needed much tender loving care. So, I sliced and soon realised it was not a good idea; it broke into pieces, and thankfully, big ones. The show went on and I didn’t slice the second one and went on to assemble.

Lesson learnt: Don’t slice Belgian Chocolate Truffle Cake. It is itself rather decadent already and doesn’t need to be sandwiched with layers of buttercream. 20130914-151857.jpg

Another problem arose when it comes to icing. I had made Italian Meringue Buttercream and gotten quite comfortable with it. The issue is with the addition of colours. What I needed were red and blue but after adding Wilton’s colours, I couldn’t get the shades that I wanted and panicked. What was worse was my colours ran out and I had to rush down to get more. Only then did I realised that to get the strong red that I wanted, I had to buy Wilton’s red-red and not just red. Ahh… So, in future, I should really consult this chart.

And I thought this guide on Wilton’s colours is helpful too.

In the end, the colours on the cake weren’t what I wanted but I certainly hope the chocolate truffle cake would shine!

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On to the tartlets.

I had baked the lemon meringue tartlets with success (IMHO). I love the crispy crust of the graham crackers and thought I should bake them using the same base too. However, I changed the brand of the honey and then the problem started. The crust no longer gave crispiness but a little chewiness instead. Softer, most definitely but the taste is still the same.

And then, the customer decided to collect the tartlets earlier. Uh-oh! I have wanted to assemble one
hour before the collection but by shifting the time earlier, I would have to rush and when I rush, the results could be rather undesirable.

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The lemon curd was made a day earlier and that’s fine but I had to make the meringue before the assembling and then I panicked. When I made the sugar syrup, I didn’t stir to dissolve the sugar and in the end, I had grainy meringue. Threw one batch away because it didn’t get to stiff peak (something must have gone wrong!) and did the second one and I just didn’t dissolve the sugar in my haste!

Lesson learnt: Dissolve sugar and confirm time for collection!

The kind lady had to wait 30 minutes for the tartlets and I really felt bad about it. On top of that, since it was a rushed work, the designs weren’t fantastic. Sorely disappointed! I hope tarts would still bring smiles though.

* I didn’t get to take a shot of the completed work. Sigh!

So, I realised yesterday was Friday, the 13th. Bad day for baking! Okay, I just want to blame it on something. I’m bad, I know.