Saturday, January 30, 2016

P = Pumpkin Chiffon Cake


1. A fun French word to say.  A chiffarific word to say, actually.
2. A word that, for me, evokes a certain kind of glamour and elegance.

Probably because of this...

As a youngster, chiffon was a word that described a very gauzy, light, delicate, and pretty fabric that dresses were made out of.  See the picture at left.  Dresses like that. Dresses I never got to wear...ever...especially at proms in the 90s, which were all satin and sequins.

Naw...these types of frocks were reserved for the cast of Dynasty and princesses.

So, the question today is: how did this particular type of fabric become the name of a particular kind of pie or cake?

Answer: both chiffons require delicate handling and result in delicate, light products.

We have the beautiful dress above (incidentally, I do have a dress like this in my closet, and I wear it only when I'm baking chiffon cakes or pies).  And we also have chiffon pies, which are gelatin-based and are rather airy and mousse-like.

But, there are also chiffon cakes, which are more like an angel food cake than this pie above.  Chiffon cakes contain no gelatin, but instead are made with eggs, sugar, flour, baking soda, etc.  Angel food cakes get their height and rise from the magic that happens in the oven with egg whites and heat, etc.  They contain no leavening agents (baking soda, powder, etc), and that's why they're practically weightless.  A chiffon cake has more substance behind it with eggs and baking soda...and is more spongy and dense.  Beaten egg whites are gently folded into the cake batter, and that also lends a degree of sponginess as well.

Today, I thawed out a bag of pumpkin puree I'd frozen last fall, and turned it into a pumpkin chiffon cake.  Typically, chiffon cakes are baked in a tube pan with a removable bottom, and had I one of those, my final product would be more angel-food-cake-looking.  As it is, I used a bundt pan and this is what I got.  Still tasted the same - great. looks naked, doesn't it?  However, I'm not really a fan of frosting cakes like these...cakes that have so so so much going on for them without the extra lard and sugar.  But, a drizzle of a chocolate ganache?  That I can live with.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that.

We were eating it.  And it was delicately light and beautiful.

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