Birthday cakes have a special place in my heart.
Perhaps it’s because my mother always made sure there were two cakes to celebrate the birthday that I share with my twin sister: a devil’s food chocolate and an orange chiffon, not unlike the version here.
I first tried my hand at cake baking when I was 9 years old, and it didn’t go well. I grabbed the soya sauce bottle instead of the vanilla, and the result was inedible. I’ve been a careful label reader ever since.
The chocolate cake recipe I’m sharing originated with Murray McMillan, a former food editor of the Vancouver Sun. It’s a cake my daughter enjoys making for her children, and it would make a lovely centrepiece for a family birthday celebration. I’m including a clever icing option that’s as delicious as it is easy.
Orange Chiffon Cake
This cake is so light and fluffy that eating it is like biting into an orange-flavoured cloud. You can make Jana’s lemon version by replacing the orange juice with 1/4 cup (60 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice plus 1/2 cup (125 mL) water and the orange zest with lemon zest. You’ll need a 10 inch (25 cm) tube pan with a removable bottom. (Adapted from The Little Island Bake Shop: Heirloom Recipes Made for Sharing by Jana Roerick, Figure 1 Publishing, March 2019.)
1 1/2 (375 mL) cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (180 mL) sugar, divided
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh orange juice
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) finely grated orange zest
Whipped cream and candied orange peel (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 F (190 C).
In a bowl, whisk the flour, 1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar, baking powder and salt to incorporate.
In a separate bowl, whisk the orange juice with the egg yolks, oil and zest. With a spatula, fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, slowly beat the egg whites until frothy. Increase the speed and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) sugar. Beat until firm, moist peaks form.
With a spatula, gently fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, taking care not to deflate the whites. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until incorporated.
Scrape the batter into a straight-sided tube pan with a removable bottom and level it with an offset spatula. Bake on the centre rack for 1 hour (do not open the oven door). Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan onto a full tin can, balancing the tube on the can top. (The cake is so delicate that it must cool upside down so it doesn’t collapse.) Allow the cake to cool completely.
To unmould, carefully run a palette knife around the perimeter of the pan. Remove the outer pan and run the knife along the base of the tube pan to release the cake. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate. Slice the cake with a serrated knife and garnish each piece with whipped cream and candied orange peel. Alternatively, frost the whole cake with orange flavoured buttercream.
Serves 10 to 12
Chocolate Snacking Cake
This delicious cake comes with its own instant icing, but you could also frost it with your favourite buttercream.
1 1/2 (375 mL) cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) warm water
1/3 cup (80 mL) vegetable oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) white vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup (250 mL) chocolate chips or 12 to 16 unwrapped Peppermint Patty candies for frosting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F (190 C). Lightly grease an 8 inch (20 cm) square cake pan.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Place the water in a 2 cup measure (500 mL), add the oil, vinegar and vanilla, and whisk briskly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended. Stir in the nuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Set the hot cake on a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle the top evenly with chocolate chips or cover it with a single layer of Peppermint Patties. As soon as they are softened, spread evenly with a spatula. Let the icing set before cutting the cake into squares.
Makes 9 servings.
Kitchen Hack: Connect-the-dots frosting
Here’s a pro tip for frosting a sheet cake: Place large, evenly spaced dollops of frosting over the top of the cake. Then use an offset spatula to spread one dollop to another until the frosting is smooth and equally distributed.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019