Cream Cheese Chiffon Cake

When you think of cheesecake, what is the image that conjures up in your mind? Typically, it is a round dense cheesecake, or the recent extremely popular Basque burnt cheesecake, right? That is the reason why I want to a create a cheesecake that does not conform to the regular perception. In fact, in order to be classified as cheesecake, the cake itself has to consist of at least 65% cheese. The cheese chiffon cake which I am going to share with you, unfortunately, does not have such a high percentage of cream cheese. Hence, technically, it doesn’t fall under the umbrella of cheesecake. Nevertheless, it is an exceedingly fluffy cake with cheesy and creamy filling that will certainly be a crowd pleaser. The saltiness from the shredded cheddar cheese topping surprisingly integrates very well with the sweetness of the chiffon cake.

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An important thing to take note when making the cheese chiffon cake is the temperature of ingredients. It is crucial for the cream cheese to be softened at room temperature, with the milk and melted butter heated to about 45 degrees Celsius. What if the cream cheese and milk are both cold, straight away taken out from the fridge? Then, you will have a hard time mixing them to form a smooth emulsion. There is also a risk whereby the melted butter will solidify and curdle when it comes into contact with cold milk and cheese. So, make sure the temperature of ingredients are just right.

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Ingredients: (yield: one 15cm round cake and 3 cupcakes. OR, one 18cm round)

(A) Chiffon Cake

Egg yolk 3 no. (45g)
Cream cheese 50g
Warm milk 50g
Butter, melted 30g
Cake flour  55g
Salt 1/8 tsp
Lemon zest 1/2 tsp
Egg white 120g
Sugar 70g

(B) Cheese cream

Cream cheese 150g
Icing sugar, sifted 30g
Whipping cream 120g

(C) Topping

Milk powder, for dusting
Shredded cheddar cheese, as needed
Fresh thyme, for garnish

Method:

  1. To make the chiffon cake: Preheat oven at 180 degree Celsius, and prepare one 15cm round chiffon cake pan and 3 cupcake moulds. Alternatively, prepare one 18cm round chiffon cake pan.

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    Ingredients for cheese chiffon cake
  2. In a mixing bowl, let the cream cheese soften at room temperature. Beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  3. Add in warm melted butter and mix well.
  4. Add in warm milk (45 degree Celsius) and mix until well combined. Then, mix in egg yolks and salt.
  5. Sieve cake flour directly to the egg yolk-cheese mixture. Mix with a whisk until you don’t see any lumps of flour.
  6. Add lemon zest, and mix well. Set the mixture aside.
  7. In another clean and grease-free mixing bowl, put in egg white. Beat the egg white until it is frothy. Divide the sugar into 3 portions, and add 1/3 of the sugar to the egg white and beat to soft peak.
  8. Then, add another 1/3 of the sugar and continue to beat for 30 seconds.
  9. Add the remaining 1/3 of the sugar and whip the meringue to medium-stiff peak. (Note: Do not whip to stiff peak, otherwise it will be too difficult to fold in later.)
  10. Take 1/3 of the meringue and whisk it into the egg yolk mixture.
  11. Fold in the rest of the meringue with a rubber spatula.
  12. Pour cake batter into a 15cm round cake pan to about 80% full, and divide the remaining batter evenly between three cupcake paper moulds.
  13. Use a skewer to smoothen the batter. Tap on counter top a few times to remove large air pockets.
  14. Bake at 180C for 25 – 30 minutes until it is cooked. For the cupcakes, bake for about 20 minutes. If you are using a 18cm-round cake pan, bake it for 30 minutes or more until it is brown and cooked.
  15. Once it is out from the oven, turn it upside down and let it cool completely on a cooling rack before removing from the cake pan.

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    This is how the chiffon cake looks like once it is out of the oven. Invert it, and let it cool down completely, upside-down.
  16. After that, keep the cake refrigerated for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  17. To prepare the cheese cream: Beat the cream cheese until it is soft and smooth. Add in icing sugar and mix until smooth.
  18. In another mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream to soft peak. Add in cream cheese mixture and continue to whip to medium-stiff peak.
  19. Keep the cream refrigerated until needed.
  20. To assemble the cake: Slice the cake into 6 – 8 pieces. Make a slit in the middle, but not cutting all the way through.
  21. Transfer the cheese cream to a piping bag. Pipe some cheese cream in the middle of the cake.
  22. Dust with milk powder. Put some fresh thyme leaves as garnish, and topped with shredded cheddar cheese.
  23. Serve chilled.

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