When I took this delight out of the oven, my heart burst out and galloped forth through the sweet aromas filling the kitchen.
When I pulled it out as a surprise after dinner, G’s eyes drooled even more than his mouth.
When I cut a slice dolloped with fresh whipped cream and handed it over to him, the clouds parted in the wintry sky, heavenly lights shone down and angels sang from G’s rapturous face with every bite.
I have to say, this orange chiffon cake really is THAT good.
Who doesn’t love oranges as it is? I’ve had a true soft spot for the citrus family even as a child, where I developed a strong favoritism for all things lemon. I still recall the white lemon sorbet I used to feast on back when the local CVS was a Long’s Drugs (I think) and had an ice cream parlour inside. But I digress. I’ve enjoyed the flavors and the fruits for so long, but it wasn’t until recently that I ventured into the realm of incorporating them into my cooking and baking.
Earlier I made a strawberry cake, but this time I went straight for the orange, and my god I want all of you to try it as well. I found this recipe online at Coconut & Lime, one of the food blogs I really enjoy, and immediately felt compelled to try it. Admittedly I was longing to use my KitchenAid mixer again too, but that’s secondary delights. Anyhoo, I used cara cara oranges (a reddish type of navel orange, and OH SO SWEET with a special tang to it) rather than tangerines. Chiffon cakes are incredibly fluffy without the sponginess. I had already conceived of some alterations I wanted to make to the recipe, but first had to see what the original was like, so here you go. And for once, I didn’t shrink down the recipe, but did the full version (meaning we now have cake to last us the next two weeks if we are semi healthy, and one week if we just throw in the towel).
- 6 eggs, separated
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup Cara Cara orange juice (roughly the juice of one full orange. Can add extra Tropicana or the like if needed)
- ½ cup canola oil (no butter this time, it contributes to the shelf life of the cake, and keeps it lighter, not richer)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp salt
- zest of 1 Cara Cara orange
- ½ cup Heavy whipping cream
- Few DROPS of vanilla extract
- Shredded coconut, to sprinkle
(obviously you can use any kind of orange you like)
So the trickiest part of this is handling the eggs whites, which should be separated from the yolks, but we shall discuss that in a moment.
Preheat the oven to 325, and then in a large bowl mix the flour, 1 ¼ cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Once blended, add in the egg yolks, oil, orange juice and zest. I used my mixer with extreme excitement, watching with awe at how hypnotic the whirring of the mixer was…
Once you break out of that reverie, work the egg whites separately, beating them until foamy. Here you add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. This is common lingo in whipping: soft peaks, stiff peaks, etc. Soft ones will hold up somewhat but are still very delicate and “wet.” BTW, I do not recommend doing this by hand, else it might fall off unless you have super-speed-FoodNetwork-Chef arm strength. Use any mixer you gots, yo.
Anyway, at the soft peaks stage add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. NOW, very delicately fold the egg white mixture into the batter, making sure not to stir repeatedly but instead just dig the spatula and fold outwards slowly. Once you think you haven’t screwed this up and everything is lightly mixed, pour into a baking pan.
Here was my one mistake, a rookie mistake at that. I didn’t grease and flour my pan. This resulted in a bit of stickiness and slight breakage, so please, grease your pan, and stick it in the oven, center rack, for about an hour. I actually was done within 45 minutes, but it depends on your oven. You’ll see the edges of the cake begin to pull from the sides, and a toothpick will come out cleanly from the center.
Once done, let it cool, then invert it onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Whilst this chills, take the heavy cream and pour it preferably into a chilled mixing bowl to maintain the temp. while mixing gradually add maybe 1-2 tbsp of sugar, and tiny bit of vanilla. Eventually it will form peaks as well, and be light, fluffy and beautiful.
On the cooled cake, dollop however much cream you like and top it all with shredded coconut. I’d actually have added mixed berries in a sugar glaze perhaps, or just fresh berries atop the cream if I had them on hand.
Nevertheless, when you cut into it, you can find specks of orange zest, those little jewels of ecstasy. Honestly, this cake blew us away by its lightness but strong sweet flavor. G went so far as to say it ranked eons higher than his previous favorite bakery dessert, Cheesecake Factory’s Tiramisu. High praise indeed.
And thus G dubbed it his Utopian Cake.