Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wedding Cake Chronicles: The Bake

Cakes are baked! It feels so good to have that first step done. I baked all eight cakes last night from 7-11pm. Luckily, I was able to use the Saltie kitchen after closing, which cut my baking time in half. If you're using your home oven, you might want to split the baking up over the course of 2-3 days. Don't overcrowd your oven. You need good airflow so the cakes bake evenly. 

My strategy was to first make a double batch of batter for one 12" round cake and one 9" x 13" sheet cake. Once I got those in the oven, I made a one in a half batch for the two 6" rounds and two 9" rounds. And then made a final double batch for one more 12" round and 9" x 13" sheet. With me?

Chiffon Cake (by Tartine)
Makes two 9" cakes (Or one 12" cake. Half the recipe for two 6" cakes.)

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 c vegetable oil
6 egg yolks
3/4 c water 
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
10 egg whites, room temp
1/4 tsp cream of tartar


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of cake pans with parchment paper rounds. Do not grease pans. Chiffon cakes actually need to cling to the pans while baking for support. Wrap soaked towel strips around the pans and secure with T pins. When a cake pan is wrapped with a wet strip, the baking process is equalized to control the heat, so that the cake bakes evenly. Helps with doming, cracked tops, and overdone edges. You can either purchase commercial agi-strips or make your own by cutting up an old towel 5" longer than the circumference of you pan and 1/4" shorter than the height. 

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and lemon zest. Make a well in the flour, add the yolk mixture, and whisk thoroughly and quickly for about 1 minutes until very smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium size mixing bowl with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until it holds soft peaks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar slowly while beating on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks. Add a third of the egg whites and fold into the flour/yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in the rest of the whites until just combined.


Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the top if necessary. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-55 minutes. Start checking after 30 min. Another way to check (if you don't want to keep stabbing your cakes) is to press the top of the cake with your finger and see if it springs back up. If it doesn't, that means there is still moisture in your cake that needs to be baked out. 


There are plenty of mixed opinions on the cooling of chiffon cakes. Some say to let them cool completely in the pan. Others say to let them cool in the pan but inverted. And some say to remove the cakes from the pans almost immediately and let cool on a wire rack. 

I tried them all. For the larger cakes (12" round and the 9" x 13"sheet) it worked well to let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes before using a pairing knife to loosen them from the sides of the pans and then flipping them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Peel parchment off as soon as you flip them out of the pans. 

For the smaller cakes (6" and 9") it worked better to invert them onto a wire rack immediately and let them partially cool inside the pan. After 30 minutes or so I turned them again, ran a thin knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake, and then flipped it back onto the wire rack to cool completely. 


I've read that chiffon cakes freeze fine for up to 3 months. I've also read that they never taste quite as  good after they've been frozen. I don't want to take any chances so I'm refrigerating the cakes in triple plastic wrap until Friday. I've had plenty a refrigerated chiffon cakes and they always hold up extremely well. I almost prefer them after being refrigerated overnight. So. There they sit, safely stacked in my already overcrowded refrigerator. I will be transporting them (in a cooler) up to CT tomorrow morning where they will go back into the farm's cooler while I prep the fillings, syrups, and buttercream. 

Wish me luck! I will give a full report including filling recipes, step by step assembly instructions, and a supplies checklist.   

1 comment:

  1. Hey there, I just stumbled across your blog and saw this post. I'm doing my first wedding cake, and I'm thinking a chiffon cake would be better than genoise since, well, chiffon cakes taste better (am I right?). How did your finished product turn out? I've made the original Tartine chiffon cake a number of times, but I haven't altered the quantities to work for different quantities. I also need to make the bottom tier 14" instead of 12." Anython else you would suggest now that it's all over?