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Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Chocolate Dessert

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#1 LittleIsland

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 08:27 PM

I've just made Rose Levy Berenbaum's Chocolate Chiffon Cake and really like it - light, moist, and very nice texture.

BUT I am in search of a more intense, rich, chocolatey flavour with a deeper colour in my chocolate chiffon cake. I have read other posts referring to the recipe from Spago's Chocolate... would that be the one to beat, or are there others out there that would fit the bill?

Also in search of the perfect frosting but that's for another thread once I've found the right cake recipe!

#2 LittleIsland

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 12:28 AM

OK I've now baked the Spago's Chocolate chiffon cake made with cocoa, and it IS lovely and rich and dark. Great flavour. But just a touch dry. There are apparently 2 versions of the recipe floating around - I made the version with the ½ cup oil but the other version has 3/4 cup oil - has anyone made it and how does it turn out with 3/4 cup? Was it too oily? Should I try it with 2/3 cup oil?

The bottom half of the cake came out dense. Would this be because I didn't invert the cake to cool? The middle of the cake sank somewhat - it was as though the structure of the cake wasn't strong enough to support itself in the centre. How should I stop this from happening? I baked it in a 9" springform.

My other question has to do with frosting this cake: I am trying to replicate the frosting from a chocolate cake I often buy - it is dark, has a semi-shiny surface, is thick stuff - like a slightly fluffy pudding - its surface sets slightly firmer than the inside that stays soft. Does anyone have any ideas for me on how to re-create this frosting?

As you can probably tell, I'm very much a novice home baker despite having baked often before, and I'm here to learn! My second post only... You are all so knowledgeable, I am in awe and I look forward to improving my baking skills.

Thanks in advance.

#3 Ling

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 01:02 AM

Could you post the list of ingredients for the Spago recipe...then perhaps it would help others see if it looks like it could take more oil?

I always invert my chiffon cakes immediately after baking.

Here is another recipe you might be interested in trying.

filipe's cocoa chiffon cake

Edited by Ling, 20 June 2006 - 01:05 AM.


#4 LittleIsland

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 04:11 AM

Here's a link to the recipe:

Chocolate Chiffon cake

and that's where it refers to the fact that there are other versions of the same recipe with 3/4 cup oil instead.

I plan to try Filipe's recipe next :biggrin:

#5 sanrensho

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 09:52 AM

My other question has to do with frosting this cake:  I am trying to replicate the frosting from a chocolate cake I often buy - it is dark, has a semi-shiny surface, is thick stuff - like a slightly fluffy pudding - its surface sets slightly firmer than the inside that stays soft.  Does anyone have any ideas for me on how to re-create this frosting?


It sounds like a basic ganache? There are a number of variations including those that use cocoa powder, chocolate and cream or butter.
Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#6 RodneyCk

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 11:45 AM

Could you post the list of ingredients for the Spago recipe...then perhaps it would help others see if it looks like it could take more oil?

I always invert my chiffon cakes immediately after baking.

Here is another recipe you might be interested in trying.

filipe's cocoa chiffon cake

View Post


Thanks for the post Ling, that one looks amazing.

#7 LittleIsland

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 11:10 PM

I tried Filipe's recipe today. I prefer the Spago recipe as it baked up darker and richer, I just have to get the texture correct.

Ling, have you tried both and what is your opinion?

I shall look up and try a basic ganache for the frosting... I've never made a ganache before!

#8 Ling

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 10:59 AM

I haven't tried either recipe yet, but the Spago proportions look similar to my favourite chiffon cake recipe, which has the same amount of flour (well, 1 3/4 cup, but I'm counting your cocoa and flour together as a dry ingredient), oil and sugar, but 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water, and 6 eggs (separated).

The cake is baked in a tube pan, and I invert it as soon as it comes out of the oven. It is always very moist (as long as you don't overbake it). I would probably go with those proportions if I were fiddling with the Spago recipe...use more eggs, and more water.

#9 LittleIsland

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 03:02 AM

Would adding more egg whites make the cake softer?

#10 JustKay

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 04:36 AM

I've made the Spago cake from this recipe here.

It was a while ago but the Chocolate Craqueline Mousse Cake turned out great. I skipped the sugar syrup though.

The chiffon cake turned out just right. Nice texture. Wasn't dense at all. And chocolatey rich.

#11 LittleIsland

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 11:49 PM

Thanks JustKay. I quite like the cake as it is, but I guess personally prefer a softer texture which is what I'm trying to achieve by twiddling the recipe.

Taking Ling's suggestions into account, these were my latest efforts:

1. Baked the cake in a tube pan, using 4 yolks and 4 whites per the recipe and 75g extra whites (for the 2 extra whites). Not too bad but was still looking for slightly softer texture.

2. Increased the egg yolks to 5 yolks but cut back on the egg whites as after weighing my eggs I discovered my 4 egg yolks weighed significantly less than the standard 18.5g per yolk and whites were significantly over the standard 30g - mine are about 37g per white. So I ended up with 85g of yolks (I thought it would be too much trouble to divide a yolk!) and about 225g of whites. And, I know I should only change one thing at a time but was too impatient and that would mean baking one heck of a lot of chocolate chiffon cakes (and having to give them away!) - I changed the flour to something called Top flour (superfine flour touted as ideal for chiffon cakes - I assume it's similar to cake flour but maybe has slightly less protein content...) Half of the cake fell out of the tin after cooling. I found the texture a tad firmer and drier than attempt #1 above.

3. Today I changed the flour to cake flour (but wasn't sure how to adjust the amount so left it at about 140g which is what the 1 cup AP flour weighed) and upped the egg whites to 300g (which as the cake was going into the oven I thought was probably a bit too much... but, too late!) and the cake dislodged itself from the pan and collapsed in a disastrous heap about 3 minutes after I removed it from the oven and inverted it to cool. As to be expected the flavour is diluted from all the extra egg whites and texture (discounting the compression) is now too soft of course.

So, now I know what too many egg whites does to a cake! The answer to my search for the right texture is probably somewhere between my various attempts, and I know I should have practise some discipline and only test one thing at a time - but :rolleyes: all I want is *for me* the perfect textured chocolate chiffon cake without having to eat through all the failures :raz:

If the answer looks a bit obvious to someone more experienced than I, please point me in the right direction!

Oh, and Ling - was reading the thread on the Double Chocolate Cake, how does the texture of that cake (after all the tweaks) compare with a chiffon?

#12 Ling

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 11:56 PM

They are quite different...a chiffon cake, as you already know, is very soft and light-tasting (compared to a butter cake). The double chocolate cake is a bit denser and is great for layering.

#13 MightyD

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 12:04 PM

also depends if you will be refrigerating the cake. chiffon cakes will retain its lovely soft texture even when cold while a butter cake will be much denser due to its butter content.

#14 LittleIsland

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 10:47 PM

So is this what it's about, the incessant tinkering with a recipe, the obsessive baking of the same cake day after day until you know it from memory, the nights when your mind can't rest from working over how many extra grams of egg white to add...

Maybe this will be a good cure to put me right off chocolate chiffon cake by the time I find the perfect proportions! :laugh:

Well the next version is in the oven right now, let's hope this too doesn't fall out of the pan.

#15 LittleIsland

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 12:42 AM

Woohoo, I'm so pleased to report the twiddling is over, and I've found the perfect texture I've been looking for in this cake.

Now on to the frosting!!

Edited by LittleIsland, 27 June 2006 - 12:44 AM.


#16 Ling

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 12:48 AM

Are you going to post your recipe, Little Island? :smile:

#17 LittleIsland

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 03:58 AM

Happy to! Note it's pretty much the Spago recipe and I've decreased the yolks slightly and increased the whites, and added a touch more oil. That's about it! While I was experimenting with top flour, cake flour and the like, eventually I went back to the all-purpose as specified. I guess it provides enough gluten for the necessary structure - I'm guessing the lack of sufficient protein content in the cake flour caused the previous collapses?

Possibly some might find this a little too moist and soft but I love it this way plain and without frosting. My only thought is perhaps it might be a little too soft to hold up a frosting well... but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it!

I'm just so glad I can stop losing sleep over this one :biggrin:
Thanks for your advice Ling.

300 grams (divided into 200g + 100g) golden caster sugar
140 grams all-purpose flour
80 grams unsweetened cocoa (I use Van Houten)
10 grams baking powder
5 grams baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
60 grams egg yolks
250 grams egg whites
5/8 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the method I just mostly followed the original recipe, modified slightly for my own ease, but which I don't think affects the outcome adversely (or not noticeably anyway).

Sift all the dry ingredients except the sugar together, then add the 200g sugar and mix on low speed for about a minute to distribute evenly. Add the yolks, oil, water and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 90 secs, scrape down the bowl and beat again for another minute.
Separately, whisk the egg whites until you get soft peaks, then add the remaining 100g of sugar and whisk till firm peaks form.
Fold a heaping cupful of whites into the cocoa mixture, then quickly and gently fold the rest in. Bake in a 10-inch pan for about 55 mins or till done.

#18 Ling

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 03:50 PM

Thanks for the recipe, Little Island. I baked your recipe today. Here are the cupcakes...they were done in about 25 minutes. The 9" cake was done in about 45-50 minutes.

Posted Image

#19 LittleIsland

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 07:00 PM

Wow those cupcakes look gorgeous! And it's a fabulous photo. What's the frosting?

And, I think maybe the timing might be off a bit. After standing at room temp. for a few hours (tropical heat notwithstanding) the cake seemed a little drier than when I greedily cut into it - and today after refrigeration it's borne out my suspicion. I think I might try a few minutes less in the oven the next time around. Except I'm a bit chocolate chiffon-ed out, heeheehee. My son's pre-school has been the grateful recipient of many of my failures.

I've been seeing many of your other posts and know you're a prolific and experienced baker, so there's lots for me to learn not only from you but so many others as well!

I've been following the dan-tart thread with interest too :wink:

#20 Ling

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 07:14 PM

Oh no, not prolific nor experienced...I just like to bake. :smile:

I thought the cupcakes were great out of the oven, but the edges dried out rather quickly. The one I ate about 2 hours out of the oven was noticeably drier than the one I had fresh out of the oven.

The frosting is actually just a thick ganache...a couple oz of E. Guittard, some butter, bit of cream.

The cake actually came out in 45 minutes, now that I think about the time.

The chiffon cake recipe I usually use stays moist and soft for at least 2 days, as long as it's well wrapped. I don't like to serve it after 2 days though (or even the next day...I can be a bit picky), as that's when the moisture loss becomes more apparent (to me, anyway.) Still, I'll try to tinker with this chocolate chiffon cake and hopefully it'll stay moist longer.

Edited by Ling, 27 June 2006 - 07:50 PM.


#21 LittleIsland

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 05:51 AM

Still, I'll try to tinker with this chocolate chiffon cake and hopefully it'll stay moist longer.

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Great, I look forward to seeing what you come up with - if I get around to more testing on the weekend, I'll be tweaking it too. Got the texture, gotta fix the dryness!

#22 LittleIsland

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 07:59 PM

A strange thing happened today. I was feeding said dry-ish cake to my colleagues at work today and had a slice myself. I don't know why but it didn't seem as dry today (Day 3).

#23 toni

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 09:06 PM

I just love reading the posts back and forth and really appreciate the testing you people report. I usually want to start baking as soon as I read your posts but wish I wasn't so tired after babysitting the grandkids all day. However, I have great intentions and usually print some of the recipes fully expecting to bake soon.

Ling, I agree that your ganache looks fantastic, and I would like to make it this weekend. Could it be made with milk chocolate? Would you post the amounts of the ingredients you used? After 5-7 years, my son-in-law told me his favorite chocolate was milk chocolate when all these years I thought the chocolaholic meant dark chocolate. If anyone has any favorite recipe for milk chocolate, be it brownies or frosting, I would be so thankful.

#24 Ling

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 10:33 PM

^Thanks for the compliment, toni! I rarely measure when I'm making a quick ganache just to put on cakes and cupcakes; I just eyeball everything. I had 6 cupcakes yesterday and cut off about 3 oz. of chocolate, and melted it with maybe 3 tbsp. of butter. (I was out of heavy cream.) This probably gives you a little more ganache than you need...I ate the rest. :wink: I'm sure it could be made with milk chocolate...maybe use 2 tbsp. of butter instead of 3 to compensate for the higher cocoa butter content.

#25 toni

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 12:07 AM

Thank you, Ling. I am assuming if you have the cream on hand, you still add the butter but add some cream, too? I am going to try this with the milk chocolate. Does it need to sit in the frig. a bit to thicken in order to be able to spread? I'm just trying to lessen the chances for failure since time is hard to come by. I am definitely impressed with the amount of baking you do, and as others have mentioned before, your ability to eat desserts is second to none (at least in my world)! :laugh: :laugh:

#26 Ling

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 12:57 AM

^If I had cream lying around, I'd use about 3 oz bittersweet, 2-3 tbsp cream (depending on the consistency you want), and a tiny pat of butter to give it some shine. It doesn't need to sit in the fridge...it will thicken up at room temperature after a few minutes off the heat. :smile:

(Ah yes, I love my desserts but sadly I must cut down a bit...clothes.getting.too.tight. *groan* :raz: )

#27 LittleIsland

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 03:46 AM

Upped the yolks today to 80g ... still a tad dry. So that's not it. If I increase the water, I'm afraid I'd have to increase the cocoa and sugar as the additional water would dilute the flavour. Then I'd have even MORE tweaking to do. I don't really want to up the oil because I haven't seen any chiffon recipes with more than 1/2 cup and I'm already adding 5/8. Argh. I wonder if I'm overbaking. But then, I'm usually checking for done-ness very carefully.

The original Spago recipe calls for 30 mins but I usually need 50 mins using a 10-inch tube pan. Could that be the problem? But 30 mins is nowhere close to enough so I wonder if that's a typo. Ling - I note you needed 45 mins for your round 9" anyway.

A bit stumped now. Anyone have ideas?

#28 Ling

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 12:46 PM

I think you should up the water. It shouldn't dilute the cocoa flavour...it's just water; it'll just make your cake more moist. You can take away a tablespoon or two of flour and replace it with a tablespoon or two of cocoa if you're worried.

#29 Renee K

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 01:11 AM

I would concur with Ling and suggest increasing the water.

However, I also half suspect that the texture you are hankering for can only be achieved with the use of some emulsifier. To get that rather moist yet very soft and fluffy crumb like the commercial cakes. You can try using a sponge mix (like optima) in lieu of the plain flour and see how you like it. Just a suggestion.

#30 LittleIsland

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Posted 08 July 2006 - 01:34 AM

Well today I thought I'd go the other way so I used Rose Levy Berenbaum's Chocolate Chiffon recipe which differs from the Spago recipe in that it has:
- 170g cake flour instead of 140g AP
- 50g cocoa instead of 80g
- 3/4 cup water instead of 1/2 cup
- 6 yolks and 10 whites instead of 4 yolks and 6 whites

I remembered when I first made it exactly as written I found it to be lovely and moist. So I reduced the flour to 140g and replaced it with cocoa (total 80g same as Spago's). I made sure to remove it from the oven once the tester was no longer wet but had a few moist crumbs clinging.

Well it fell out of the pan while cooling and developed a rubbery crust all round. Disaster.

So I guess it's back to tweaking the Spago recipe - yes, with more water!





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