Chocolate Chiffon Cake w Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

A light and airy chocolate chiffon cake smothered in rich and luscious coconut swiss meringue buttercream

I am lost in the world of sponge cakes. It entailed quite a bit of reading. What is a sponge? What is a foam cake? Sponge vs foam cakes? Oh are they the same? Ahhh sponge is a subset of foam…Wait, is it the other way round? Is there fat or no fat? What so many eggs!! I asked myself that while making the Angel Food Cake.

You don’t have to know your butter cakes from your foam cakes. It is often just pleasurable to bake and eat a lovely cake. But I can’t let it go. I have to know! I have to read all those baking 101 articles, baking science, cake math. This is the part where my Mom will be both surprised and pleased. She really did have a hard time helping me with my math when I was in school. Yes I can do fractions now! Well if the schools had any sense, they would teach us mathematics by way of food.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Coconut Buttercream

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Coconut Buttercream

 

If you are obsessing over baking like me, here are some quick reads about types of cakes, sponge cakes, and more details And, to help you visualize, a little succinct table.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Coconut ButtercreamSo last week besides reading many articles about leavening with eggs, I baked a few chiffons. All of them chocolate because for some mental reasons, not hormonal, I was craving chocolate, lots of it. Now, chiffon is a cake that, like most foam cakes, is more a vehicle for eating copious amounts of cream than something that stands on its own merits of taste and moistness. It is made for covering up with beautiful silky meringue buttercream just like a chocolate chip cookie is meant to be dunked in milk! And that is precisely the roadblock I hit.

I have never in my life made any kind of buttercream. I was scared of frosting. I was terrified of the lavish amounts of butter and sugar that most frostings have. Many a times, I have separated the thick sugary frosting from the cake while eating a store-bought piece. So I tried the easy way out, I made ganache and I doused my chocolate chiffon with a rich ganache! It helped a lot with the chocolate craving, but somehow it seemed more like a weird comforting concoction you would cook up on a somber quiet night to curl up in front of the couch with rather than share with friends.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Coconut Buttercream

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Coconut Buttercream

It was time; I had to look up and start making buttercream. After all I can’t have a half decent baking blog without buttercream! Let us reflect a moment about my first failed attempt. I picked this simple peanut butter filling to go with the chocolate. I used my regular very fine sugar instead of confectioner’s sugar. Big mistake! My frosting was grainy and heavy and totally inedible. I had to throw it out. I almost cried. If someone knows how to fix it, please share for future reference.

What I learnt

  • Remind yourself to follow recipe exactly when in uncharted territory
  • DO NOT substitute granulated sugar for icing or confectioner’s sugar. You will cry, like me!

So I took a step back and started with a clean slate. Baked a new chocolate chiffon cake – Did my research on buttercream. Decided I like the sound of meringue buttercream. Read up all about Swiss and Italian meringue butter creams in this great article by Handle the Heat. Eventually used Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe for Coconut Meringue Buttercream to spectacular results and a fair share of troubles.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Coconut Buttercream

What I learnt

  • Swiss Meringue buttercream may seem daunting, but it really isn’t so hard. It needs perseverance and patience.
  • Golden rule of making meringue – all the equipment should be completely grease free, and not a single drop of yolk is tolerated if you want the meringue to stiffen.
  • The butter should be room temperature but not too soft.
  • This type of buttercream is forgiving and easy going. Just keep whipping it and it comes together
  • If it is runny, stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes, then whip again till it stiffens
  • If it is curdled, take out a small portion, heat it in the microwave for 15seconds, pour it slowly back into the curdled mixture while whipping on slow. Then increase the speed till it stiffens

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Coconut Buttercream

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Coconut Buttercream

Just give it a try. Make a small batch in the beginning so if it is not so good, you won’t feel terribly guilty about throwing it. My recipe makes about one and a half cups of buttercream. This is a beautiful treat for two for a special night. Especially if as a child you liked Bounty chocolates.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Serves – 4 generous portions

Ingredients
For the garnish
1/2 cup toasted coconut – Spread unsweetened shredded coconut on a baking tray and put it in the oven at 250F for 5 – 10 mins till light golden brown. Let it cook while you make the cake

For the Cake (adapted from Epicurious)
40gms, ¼ cup cake flour
52gms, ¼ cup sugar
18gms, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 large egg whites
52gms, 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
75ml, 1/3 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
2 large eggs yolks
2 tablespoons water

For the Coconut Swiss Meringue Butter Cream (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
¾ cup fine granulated sugar
2 egg whites
¾ cup butter, room temperature but not soft
¼  tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup coconut milk

Directions

Bake the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Keep two 5″x2″ round cake pans ready. Just like baking an Angel Food cake, there is no need to butter it or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour in a medium bowl. Combine next 5 ingredients alongwith the flour. Whisk to blend.
  3. Beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry.
  4. Whisk the oil, egg yolks, and water in large bowl to blend. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold whites into yolk mixture. Transfer batter to pans.
  5. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool inverted on a rack for 30 mins. Remove cakes out onto the rack and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. I kept mine in the fridge overnight. This is a very soft and delicate cake. Cooling in the fridge helps to frost it easily. 

Make the Buttercream

  1. In a small metal or glass bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Heat the mixture for 5 – 6 minutes, till it registers 140F on a candy thermometer, or until the mixture is hot and sticky to the touch and the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed till peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
  3. Switch to a paddle attachment, reduce the speed to low and add the butter a couple of pieces at a time. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth and glossy.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, salt and coconut milk and whip for another few minutes on medium speed, or until the coconut milk is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth and thick.
    • If it is runny, stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes, then whip again till it stiffens
    • If it is curdled, take out a small portion, heat it in the microwave for 15seconds, pour it slowly back into the curdled mixture while whipping on slow. Then increase the speed till it stiffens

To Assemble
Place a parchment paper on a plate or cake stand. Place one 5″ cake on the parchment paper. Put a thick dollop of freshly made buttercream on the cake and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Place the second cake on top. Do not press it down too hard. Dollop more cream on top and spread evenly to cover and smooth the top. With the spatula smooth a thin layer of cream on the sides for crumb coating. Keep turning the cake often while doing this, to get a smooth look. Fill the gaps with more cream and smooth again. Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top. Eat fresh at room temperature. Seriously don’t leave it in the fridge and wait till the next day. It will haunt you all night.

Note – if making the buttercream ahead and leaving it in the fridge to frost the cake the next day, just whip it once again till smooth and silky.

 

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