Friday, July 24, 2015

Good Old Coffee Peanut Cake

Feeling nostalgic? I miss those good old traditional little cakes topped with sweet-salty buttercream. These little cakes usually come in a box of 10 and given to relatives as part of an upcoming wedding celebration. The cakes usually come in small rectangular size of different flavors and colors. I remembered my sister, brother and I trying to reach out to our favourites before they ended up in each other's stomach. The decorations were simple - piped buttercream dotted with cherries, rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, edible wafer flowers, chopped peanuts or almond flakes. Back then, cakes are a luxury. Just like durians. I remembered my parents would spread out newspaper on the floor before opening up the thorny fruits. All of us would then compete how fast and how many of the pungent fruit we could eat. Imagine having one fruit in the mouth and the other hand holding on to another fruit. It was a luxury my family enjoyed. To finish off the durian feasting, my mom would put salt water on the durian husks for us to drink. It's supposedly to clear the heat in our body system as durians are considered heaty food. We would wash down with mangosteens too if they were available because mangosteens will neutralize the heatiness of the durians. Such wonderful and memorable good old days. Nowadays, I can eat all the durains I want at my own pace as my children and hubby don't fancy this pungent, thorny fruit. Not so exciting anymore ... Food always taste better if we have to fight for it. Don't you agree?

I baked this cake to celebrate the birthdays of my cell group members born in July. Baking the coffee chiffon cake was easy. But I have no idea what kind of butter or cream is used to make the traditional buttercream. Those cream is stable enough not to be refrigerated. Thus began my search in the internet and I found out that the buttercream is made from a mixture of margarine or shortening and salted butter and golden syrup. You can find this recipe from the Nasi Lemak Lover blog. However, I don't fancy buttercream made with margarine or shortening. I prefer the pure butter taste. So I replaced it with my favourite vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. Instead of using unsalted butter, I used the salted butter. It turned out great! The combination of the soft, fluffy coffee-flavoured cake and vanilla buttercream dotted with fresh crunchy chopped peanuts is simply divine. Forget about the calories and saturated fat. Enjoy ........ Don't forget you can eat the flowers too.

I discovered something while trying to find out how to bake a tall chiffon layer cake in a regular pan without it collapsing too much while cooling. The trick is using a cake pan with removable base and temperature control and timing. Start at low temperature before increasing the heat. It was perfect. You can find all these tips from Nasi Lemak Lover blog here. Besides this, I increase the amount of cake flour (about 10% more) if the chiffon cake is to be baked in a regular pan. This is to give the cake more structure and to prevent it from collapsing during cooling since it doesn't have the tube for support.

Coffee Chiffon Cake
(Makes a 7" round cake or 7" square cake)

Egg yolk mixture:
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp (10g) instant coffee granules dissolved in 50ml boiling water
30ml fresh milk/evaporated milk

1/2 tsp coffee extract¼ tsp salt
40g corn oil
36g caster sugar 

Egg White Mixture:
4 egg white
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
54g caster sugar

90g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder


Use a 7" x 3" round baking pan or 7" x 7" square baking pan with removable base. There is no need to grease or line the baking pan with parchment paper.
If you do not have a pan with removable base, line the base with parchment paper.

Preheat oven at 140 ºC with the rack placed at the lower third of the oven.

(1) Mix all the egg yolk ingredients together and stir till smooth.
(2) Sift the cake flour and baking powder over the egg yolk mixture and fold gently.
(3) Whisk egg white using medium speed till foamy stage. Add in cream of tartar. Increase speed to medium high until soft peak stage and gradually pour in the sugar. Whisk at high speed until stiff peak forms.
(4) Take 1/3 of egg white mixture and fold gently into the egg yolk mixture. Add in the rest of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture and fold gently until well blended. Use a large balloon whisk or rubber spatula to fold.
(5) Pour into the baking pan. Tap the pan gently to remove air bubbles.
(6) Bake at 140°C for first 25 minutes. Increase temperature to 170°C and bake for another 20 to 25 min or until a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
(7) Remove from oven, invert cake onto cooling rack that is raised (you can place cups beneath cooling rack) until completely cooled before removing the cake from the pan.

(8) Leave the unmoulded cake to cool on the cooling rack right side up if still a little damp or warm.

** Note **

If you use a pan with non-removable base, unmould the cake and remove the parchment paper after about 15 min of cooling. This is to prevent the cake from becoming damp from the hot steam trapped at the bottom of the pan. Leave the unmoulded cake to cool on the cooling rack right side up until cool.

You can use aluminium foil to cover the top of the cake towards the last 10 minutes of baking if the top browns too quickly.

There may be extra batter if you use a 7" round pan of 3" height. Pour the remaining batter onto a small ungreased loaf pan.

Vanilla swiss meringue buttercream
272g unsalted butter, at 18 °C or 65 °F, cut into 2cm cubes
36g + 76g caster sugar
36g water

3 egg whites
1/4 + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

¾ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Add 76g caster sugar and 36g water into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium fire while stirring constantly until sugar has melted. After bubbling, stop stirring. Reduce fire to low.
  2. In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and increase the speed to maximum.
  3. When soft peaks form, add in the 36g sugar gradually. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  4. Increase the heat and bring the sugar syrup to a boil until temperature reaches 120-121 ºC or 248-250 ºF. This is the firm ball stage. Transfer syrup into a glass measuring jar.
  5. With the mixer off, pour a third of the syrup gently into the egg white mixture. Beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Repeat this step 3 times.
  6. Once all sugar syrup has been added to the egg white mixture, beat the mixture at medium speed for about 2 minutes or until egg white mixture feels cool.
  7. Beat in 1 tbsp of butter at a time at medium speed. If mixture looks curdled, increase the speed. It will blend in smoothly again. Continue until all butter has been added and the mixture is smooth.
  8. Add in the vanilla extract. Blend evenly.
  9. Transfer into a glass bowl. It can be used at this time. If it's a little too soft, refrigerate it for about 15-20 minutes.


Chopped peanuts
Edible wafer flowers

  1. Slice the coffee chiffon cake into 2 equal layers.
  2. Spread the swiss meringue buttercream in between the 2 layers of cake, the side and top.
  3. Pipe the top edge of the cake with any patterns you desire.
  4. Coat the sides with the chopped peanuts.
  5. Decorate the cake with the edible wafer flowers.

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