Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Once again, it's the time of the month. No! Not THAT time ;P Ok, just kidding. It's the time of the month for us The Cake Slice bakers to bake, frost, decorate and share our lovely cakes :) For August, we are baking a Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake. Yes, if you are thinking light, fluffy and yet nutty with the creamy frosting. You are definitely on the right track.

As usual, we are baking from Julie Richardson's The Vintage Cakes. If you do not have this book, you can check out the recipe from here. Otherwise, the ingredients below are in metric measurements which is what I use. My comments are in blue.

  • 225g sifted cake flour (this means you measure after sifting the flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used only half teaspoon)
  • 150g firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 109.8g canola oil
  • 158g pure maple syrup (I used wild honey)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 112.5g granulated sugar
  • 54.5g toasted finely chopped pecans
Brown Butter Icing
  • 500g sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 56g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus a little more to thin as needed

  1. Adjust a rack to the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the brown sugar and whisk the mixture by hand to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks, oil, maple syrup, water, and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture and briskly stir with a rubber spatula until just smooth. Do not overmix.
  4. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Turn the mixer down to medium speed and gradually add the granulated sugar in a steady stream. Kick the mixer up to high speed and whip until the whites just hold firm (not stiff!) glossy peaks.
  5. Fold a third of the whites into the batter using as few strokes as possible. Add the remaining whites, folding only until evenly incorporated. Lightly fold in the pecans during the last few strokes. Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top springs back when touched or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached, 50 to 55 minutes.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool upside down by inverting the cake pan onto its legs. To remove the cooled cake from the pan, slide a long thin knife or spatula along the sides to loosen and knock the pan sharply on a hard surface until the cake drops out.
  7. For the Brown Butter Icing, put the confectioners' sugar in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a pan with a light-colored bottom will help you keep track of the color. Let the color of the butter darken from lemony to golden brown (swirl the pan occasionally to ensure even heating). Once the butter is dark brown and you begin to smell a nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat. You can either pour the butter off carefully to leave behind the milk solids that have collected on the bottom of the pan, or you can keep and use the butter solids. Either way, pour the butter into the bowl containing the confectioners’ sugar and add the cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. As the butter cools, the icing will become firmer. If using the icing as a glaze, use it immediately. If you plan to use the icing as a frosting, allow it to cool to a good spreading consistency.
  8. Frost the top and sides with brown butter icing. To cut the cake, use an angel food cake cutter or a serrated knife and a sawing (rather than a slicing) motion. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Check out my cake cooling in the chiffon tin. Although my chiffon tin has 'legs', I propped it up on a baking tray which has depth and above that, I put my cooling wire rack on it. That is another way to introduce cool air apart from propping it up on a bottle.

See how my Maple Pecan Chiffon cake looks below. I didn't use the method in Step 8 above to remove my cake. Instead, I used my clean hands to unmould the cake. This method of which was also mentioned by my fellow TCS baker, Emily before. To me, this is a pretty easy way to unmould it without risking your cake being cut off some parts by your cutter or knife. See this link to show how to unmould your chiffon cake by hand.

Honestly, the cake was so soft, fluffy and nice. It finished even before I could make the brown butter icing @@. I guess when I try this the next time, I'll try with the icing. For now, this will have to suffice :)

Incidentally, I'm also going to submit this recipe to Cook-Your-Books #3 by Joyce of baking flavours.

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