Treat yourself to a refreshingly light, yet nutty, cotton-soft chiffon cake infused with the flavours of ground cinnamon and mixed nuts – a perfect accompaniment with coffee or tea at breakfast!
It’s hard to believe that August is here! July was a busy month for me, and I’m starting to feel like my foot’s off the gas pedal now that I’ve slipped into August. And as if to signify that I’m finally feeling more relaxed and light spirited, I’m starting this month with a chiffon tea cake that is refreshingly light . It’s cinnamon-y, nutty and so cotton soft – it hardly makes a dent in your tummy. Perfect for tea, right?
I gravitate towards chiffon cakes more than any other cake when it comes to baking, as I think these are relatively healthier options for my ever-present sweet cravings. Chiffon cake recipes usually call for oils to be used in place of melted butter or margarine, so it allows me the freedom to completely omit animal oils and opt instead for healthier plant-based oils such as safflower oil, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil, without affecting the texture or flavour of the cake.
There’s also usually less sugar in chiffon cakes, when compared to heavy cake batters such as butter cakes. So I’m thinking, less sugar, less fats (or at the very least, healthier fats) all translate into less calories – which suits my on-off health-conscious state of mind just fine!
Also, I’ve noticed that chiffon cakes allow the flavours of natural ingredients to really come through – for example, flavours of citrus fruits and juices, dried herbs, spices, teas, flowers, nuts and even tubers such as sweet potatoes – all make for interesting chiffon cake flavours and textures. The possibilities just seem endless!
When you bake this, feel free to use whatever combination of nuts you have in your pantry. I used whatever I have on hand, and it so happened that I had plenty stocked of macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, almonds, and walnuts. If there’s one thing I do really well, it’s stocking my pantry chock full of baking ingredients and products so that I don’t get into a rut of not having something when I need it. Do you get annoyed when that happens? I really do, especially if it’s something I’m dying to make that day, but can’t for lack of ingredients.
So back to the nuts used here, I happily mixed macadamia nuts, almonds, pistachio nuts, and walnuts together and into the batter, half of which, was also sprinkled on top. The nuttier, the tastier, I always say!
Cinnamon Hazelnut Chiffon Cake
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 20 g caster sugar
- 60 g canola oil
- 65 g milk
- 90 g top flour (or cake flour)
- 25 g ground hazelnuts
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 120 g mixed nuts roughly chopped
For the Meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 100 g caster sugar
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- Pre-heat oven to 170 deg C (335 - 340 deg F). Place rack in the lowest part of the oven.
- In a mixing bowl, mix egg yolks, sugar, salt, vegetable oil and milk until well combined. Sift in the flour, ground cinnamon and baking powder. Add the ground hazelnut. Mix till well combined.
- Using an electric or hand-held mixer, whisk or whip egg whites on medium speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid mixer) until it just starts to foam. Add the cream of tartar. While whipping, add sugar in a slow, continuous steady stream. Whip until the meringue reaches the stiff peak stage (be careful not to over-whip).
- Scoop 1/4 of the meringue and add to the egg yolk-flour mixture. Fold lightly until just incorporated. Add the remaining meringue and fold lightly until well incorporated. Add half of the mixed nuts and fold in until just combined.
- Pour batter into a 20-cm ungreased chiffon pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter top a couple of times, and run a flat blade in an 'S' pattern around the batter to eliminate air pockets. Level the surface evenly, and sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.
- Bake at the lowest rack in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in between the side and the funnel of the chiffon pan, emerges free of batter. Remove from the oven, and immediately invert the pan onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes, before loosening the cake.
- To loosen the cake, turn it up again so that the surface of the cake is now facing up. Insert a flat blade in between the cake and pan and run the blade around the circumference of the pan, pressing against the pan as much as possible. Then invert the pan again so that the bottom of the pan is now facing up. Gently tap or push the pan's base to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then run the blade between the base and the bottom of the cake to loosen it from the base of the pan.