There are many wonderful chocolate cake recipes out there but if you want a really light, fluffy and moist chocolate cake this recipe must be for you. Chiffon cakes sound a bit daunting to make but trust me, they are not hard to make. I saw a chiffon cake recipe in a magazine years ago when I was a teenager and I had to try it. The recipe worked so beautifully that I was hooked. Over the years I’ve given that basic recipe many twists to create my own flavour combinations including this chocolate orange espresso chiffon cake. It has worked beautifully every single time.
A chiffon cake is basically one made by folding a cake batter made with egg yolks and vegetable oil into stiffly beaten egg whites. It has an interesting story too. The cake was invented in 1920 by an American salesman turned caterer. He kept his recipe secret for twenty years before finally selling it to a food company for a hefty sum I suppose.
Now a few technical tricks to make your chiffon cakes perfect: First of all, like in making meringue you must make sure the bowl and beaters and your hands are completely grease-free and dry before you start beating your egg whites. Egg whites don’t beat well if these conditions are not met.
Secondly, you must remember never to oil your chiffon cake tin. I’ll explain that when we come to our next point which is using the right kind of tin. There are special aluminium chiffon cake tins with detachable bottoms for easy removal of the cake. My bundt tin does the job but the proper one I used to own gave better results as it made the unmolding of the cake much easier.
In case of chiffon cakes it’s best not to use non-stick coated tins. You want your batter to cling to the tin and pull itself up. If it’s a bundt tin you are using (like the one I use) you will need to use a wooden skewer and some careful gentle pulling and tugging with your fingers to release the cake from the sides of the tin. A bit fiddly but works for me every time. It just needs a bit of patience and I’d rather be patient than buy a special tin that I have no room to store in my almost exploding kitchen!
The last thing you need to know and do is cooling the cake in the tin upside down! You need to invert the cake in its tin (because it’s clinging to the sides it won’t fall out) and place it on a short-necked bottle or inverted funnel on the counter so that the neck of the bottle or funnel holds the tin (and the cake obviously) in mid-air.
If you are using a non-stick coated tin it’s a good idea to check the cake to make sure it’s clinging to the pan properly. This step will ensure that your cake is very fluffy and of proper hight. The world won’t come to an end if you don’t though so you can skip this stage if you are not feeling very confident.
In the pictures below you can see how the whites and the batter are mixed together, lightly, gently, lovingly… And for those of you who may want to ask if candied peel works for decoration my answer is yes, absolutely! But making the orange slices won’t take more than a few minutes and is totally worth going the extra length if you ask me. I prefer to use clementine juice for the cake because it’s sweeter and more intense in flavour than orange juice and oranges for decoration because orange slices look prettier but use whichever you like better.
There are endless flavour combinations you can use with this recipe as a guide. You can replace the cocoa powder with an equal amount of flour and make an orange chiffon cake or use lemon juice and zest for a lemon one. I’ve even done marbled chiffon cake with very good results. Give your imagination free reign, I’m sure you’ll come up with your very own favourite flavour combos!
So here’s the recipe for one large cake:
For the cake:
For the drizzle:
For candied orange slices:
Have you ever had a cake flavoured with tea? I had only had tea with my cake before I made this one! This lovely luscious cake tastes like tea and cake in one and is so delicious I will make it over and over again!
I came up with the idea of baking a cake flavoured with Earl Grey tea when I had to write a recipe for something that called for tea as a main ingredient. I love the scent of Earl Grey so I decided right away that would be my choice of tea to use in the cake.
Earl Grey is black tea flavoured with the citrusy flavoured leaves of the bergamot orange. Most tea-flavoured recipes call for using only the liquid from steeping the tea leaves in boiling water or using teabags. I wanted quite strong Earl Grey flavour and scent so decided to experiment with adding the soaked leaves as well. I was worried this may make the cake bitter but to my surprise it didn’t at all and I even got black speckles in the cake that looked really lovely.
Use the best loose Earl Grey tea you can find so you can really smell the tea in the cake and grind the leaves only if they are too big. Tea from teabags is too fine.
I usually add vegetables such as carrots, courgettes, squash or beets to cakes for more fibre, flavour and moisture. Carrots worked really well in this one and made it really soft and moist. For more texture and flavour I also replaced some of the flour with finely ground walnuts which also worked very nicely instead of using bits like in regular carrot cakes.
This is one of those cakes that get better after a couple of days. Using olive oil instead of butter makes it very moist and helps the tea flavour to come through beautifully. Decorate your cake with a little icing sugar instead of icing if you want to cut calories. If you prefer to ice the cake I recommend butter cream flavoured with real vanilla seeds or vanilla paste if that’s available. The flavour of vanilla icing nicely complements the flavour of this cake.
Paper doily for decoration
Chocolate and beetroots, who thought they would go together so well? But they do and very nicely indeed!
Food Critics No. 1 and No. 2 weren’t able to guess the secret ingredient in these rich and moist mini cakes. I had to tell them but they couldn’t believe it was beetroots they were eating in their chocolate cake. Obviously they loved it or I wouldn’t be posting this recipe now. I have since made this luscious cake several times and adjusted the ingredients to make the cake even moister and tastier.
I had chocolate beetroot cake in a coffee shop in London for the first time. I could hardly wait for my plate to arrive but was really disappointed when I had the first bite. The cake was too dense and dry and didn’t seem to have any beets in it. It was just a chocolate cake and not a very good one.
I love cakes that are light and have loads of fruit or veg in them. If you’ve been following my blog you probably know that most cake recipes I have posted have vegetable or fruits in them. Have you seen my Earl Grey Tea, Walnut and Carrot Cake for instance? Or my Spiced Squash and Pistachio Cake? Vegetables and fruit don’t only make cakes “healthy”, they make them delicious too.
The disappointment with the cake I had put me off for a while. Then one day I decided to give it a go myself. I figured the cake had been dry because there wasn’t enough beets in it and also because it was made with chocolate. That sounds stupid, but wait! I often use cocoa powder (cocoa solids) instead of chocolate in my cakes. Cocoa powder makes them much lighter than cakes made with chocolate, even the best.
Cocoa powder is what remains after extracting cocoa butter from cocoa beans. It’s highly rich in antioxidants, has much more minerals than any type of chocolate and is absolutely delicious in cakes and biscuits.
I made this cake soon after I bought mini bundt tins and was having a bit of fun with them. The cakes looked pretty cute and because of the shape of the tins (the hole in the middle) baked to perfection.
Beets are the unsung hero of vegetable garden. They are low-calorie, full of fibre and nutrients. I love to snack on cooked beets as they are and often make my Beetroot and Yoghurt Salad with Pomegranate seeds. I used deep purple beets for this cake but yellow beets will also work very nicely here too.
In the list of ingredients you’ll see olive oil (not extra virgin) and oat bran. These are two of my favourite ingredients. I try to use them in most cakes. Do I need to tell you how good they are for you? Probably not.
As if there wasn’t a lot of goodness in the cakes already I served them with strawberries. Strawberries and chocolate are the perfect match for me. Anything with strawberries immediately becomes special right away, don’t you think?
One more thing: Plan to make these beauties a day ahead if you can. The longer they rest, the better the flavour and texture gets.
To make 20-24 mini cakes or one regular bundt cake your will need: