Citrus is a popular ingredient in baking, especially lemon and orange. In recent years, grapefruit and yuzu are widely sought-after in the dessert world as well. Not only do they give a refreshing tartness to the sweet dessert, but also striking colours, such as the colour of blood orange. Today, the star of my chiffon cake is also a citrus fruit — the green lime. As I was zesting the lime, I did’t know about you, but I personally felt that the smell of lime was more intense and sweeter than lemon, somehow more pleasant to my nose. Immediately, the citrus scent of lime reminded me of coconut. How strange was that! Perhaps next time I could create another chiffon cake featuring both flavours of lime and coconut.
The key to success in making a moist and fluffy chiffon cake lies in the meringue, or the whipping of egg white with sugar. Beating of egg whites should start slowly in the beginning, and the friction from the mixer will generate heat that gently warms the whites, allowing the protein to improve its elasticity to better retain air bubbles. Eventually, egg whites increase in volume, becoming pale and fluffy. In school, I was taught to use only room temperature egg whites in order to whip up a meringue “successfully”. However, after working with a Japanese pastry chef, I realise it is not necessary to have room temperature egg white. In contrast, cold egg white is preferred for the meringue.
To see how to whip up a meringue to stiff peak for a fluffy chiffon cake, watch this video:
Ingredients (yield: one 15cm round cake)
Egg yolk 2 no. (about 35g)
Salt a pinch
Corn oil 20g
Lime juice 8g
Lime zest 1 tsp (about 1g)
Cake flour 35g
Egg white 75g
- Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celcius. Prepare a 15cm round chiffon cake pan, DO NOT grease or flour the cake pan.
- Prepare zest of one small lime. Combine the lime zest with lime juice and water. Set aside for later use.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the egg yolk with sugar and salt.
- Add the corn oil and mix well.
- Add the lime juice mixture, mix well.
- Sieve the cake flour directly into the egg yolk mixture. Mix well to ensure there is no visible lumps of flour. Do not overmix.
- In a separate clean, dry and grease-free mixing bowl, whip the egg white until frothy.
- Add in the sugar in a steady stream, while the whisk is running at medium speed.
- Whip the egg white and sugar until stiff peak.
- Fold in 1/3 of the meringue to the egg yolk mixture.
- Then, fold in all the remaining meringue.
- Transfer the cake batter to a chiffon cake pan. Smooth out the batter, and then tap on countertop to remove large air pockets.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is cooked and light brown.
- Once the cake is out of the oven, overturn it immediately and let cool on a cooling rack.
- When the cake is completely cooled, unmold it and serve.