Monday, February 24, 2014

Orange Fluff Cake

Orange Fluff Cake - made February 17, 2014 from Old-Fashioned Baking Book by Jim Fobel 
This was part of my President's Day weekend baking bender as I finally got to recipes that have been sitting in "draft" mode on my blogger dashboard. I was throwing a surprise going away party for someone on my team and this was one of the things I made for it. I had half a bag of oranges to use up and I thought the "fluff" in the title meant the texture would be fluffy. As in cakey fluffy.
Letting the cake cool in an ungreased tube pan
However, it turned out it meant this would be a chiffon cake. I knew it as soon as I read the directions and although I don't really care for chiffon cakes, I went ahead with it anyway so the recipe would stop nagging at me to be made. The reason I knew it would be a chiffon cake is it calls for baking in an ungreased tube pan. In culinary school, I learned the reason you never want to grease the tube pan for a chiffon cake is the cake needs to be able to cling to the sides so it'll bake up with straight sides. Otherwise, if you grease it or bake in a nonstick pan, the sides have nothing to cling to and they'll slope inward as the cake bakes. Ever see a chiffon cake with sloped sides? It's not a chiffon cake.
After the cake is done, you take it out and turn it upside down so it doesn't sink as it cools. That's another reason not to grease the pan because if you did, the cake would fall out. Because the pan was ungreased, the cake stayed put even when I up-ended it over a cookie sheet and let it hang there. This is the same way angel food cakes are made which are also chiffon cakes. The pan is often called an angel food cake pan. Considering I don't like chiffon cakes or angel food cakes, don't ask why I possess the right pan to make one. My baking acquisition tendencies know no logic.
This wasn't the prettiest cake I've ever made and it looked a little uglier when I added the orange glaze but it's the taste that counts, right?
As chiffon cakes go, I thought this was all right. The flavor was definitely there so it's really only my non-preference for chiffon cakes that makes me go "meh". My coworkers liked it well enough and of all the baked goods I brought in for the going-away party, this actually went the fastest so clearly this was suited for taste buds other than mine.
The best way to explain this cake is to liken it to the cakes you can get at any Asian bakery - fruit-based, light texture, not too sweet. Come to think of it, my parents would probably like it.
1 ½ cups sifted cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/3 cup strained fresh orange juice
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1.    Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.  Have ready an ungreased 10-inch tube cake pan with a removable bottom.  (Do not use a tube pan with a nonstick surface.)
2.   Sift the flour, ½ cup sugar, the baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Form a well in the center and add the melted butter, orange zest, orange juice, egg yolks and vanilla.  With an electric mixer, beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
3.   In a large bowl combine the egg whites and cream of tartar; beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form.  Gradually beat in the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff glossy peaks form.  Stir a large spoonful of the whites into the batter to lighten.  With a spatula, quickly fold in the remaining egg whites, half at a time, to make a fluffy batter that is even in color.  Turn into the ungreased tube pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted emerges without crumbs clinging to it.  Immediately invert and let the cake hang upside down until completely cool.  Turn right side up and run a sharp knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pan.  Remove sides.  Run a knife around the center tube and under the cake; remove the pan bottom.  Turn the cake right side up on a serving plate.
4.   Prepare glaze: In a small bowl combine the confectioners’ sugar, orange zest, and orange juice to make a glaze.  Spread over the top of the cake, letting some drip down the sides.  Let stand at room temperature until glaze has set, about 1 hour.

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