Monday, July 23, 2012

fresh lime chiffon cake

This was my second attempt at making this cake. The first was over 1 year ago for Abe's birthday...and I failed miserably. My cake was about 3 inches thick, dense, and had this really weird spongy texture. I'm kind of embarrassed now as I'm reliving it...only because I still served it up at this really nice restaurant and to good friends who ate it obligingly (sorry guys!).

Anyways, the first time I tried this cake (made by my baking guru, Karena), I savored each delicious bite.... then greedily took the leftovers home to eat for breakfast the next day. The delicious memory paired with round cake pans I scored on sale at Sur La Table, inspired me to give it another try. Yes, it was quite dramatic. I followed the directions to the T and used a KitchenAid mixer this time (instead of a hand mixer) to whip the egg whites into a fluffy cloud mass with stiff peaks. Big difference.

Cakes came out perfect. Light, fluffy, fresh, not overly sweet. Balance was restored. Wounds healed, baking cajones slightly given back, etc. etc. It's a nice divergence from the usual chocolate or vanilla cake, not to mention it's from Cooking Light (so don't feel too bad for cutting yourself a big ass slice). Labor of love? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

To make the filling, combine:
1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.  

Cooking spray
1 tablespoon cake flour
2 cups sifted cake flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
3 egg yolks
8 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Garnish (optional):
Fresh mint sprigs 
Fresh blueberries 
Lime wedges

To prepare:
1) First prepare cake pans. Coat the bottom of your 8" round cake pans with cooking spray (no need to spray the sides). Line the bottoms with wax paper and dust with a little bit of flour. This whole process helps the cakes pop out of the pan when they are finished baking.

2) Lightly spoon 2 cups cake flour into measuring cups and level off with a knife. Sift into a large bowl and combine with 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk ingredients until combined. 

3) In  a separate medium bowl, combine oil, 1/3 cup lime juice, 3 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon rind, lemon extract, and egg yolks; stir to combine. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

4) Now for the fluffy egg whites. Beat egg whites in a stand mixer on high until foamy. Add cream of tartar until soft peaks form, then add the rest of the 1/4 cup of sugar one spoon at a time, until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in 1/4 of the fluffy egg whites into the flour mixture; gently fold in the rest.

5) Divide cake batter in thirds and pour into prepared pans. You can break any air pockets by cutting through the batter with a knife. Bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool cakes in pans for about 10 minutes; then remove from pans, remove wax paper, and then cool completely on a wire rack.
To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread generously with lime filling (about half). Repeat step, topping it off with the third cake layer.  Spread with frosting--I used this recipe, omitted the chocolate, and added 2 tablespoons of lime juice, which really adds a nice light freshness. 
Garnish with mint, blueberries, lime wedges, or leave as is.


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