Mar 28, 2011

Orange Glow Chiffon Layer Cake

I loved this cake in its supporting role in the Bostini (because in my opinion the star of that show was the pastry cream sauce), so I was curious about how it would be on its own. I was also curious about the flower nail (since I didn't even know if it was a "flour" or "flower" nail--the book uses both terms), but not too worried since Hanaa was going to supply the nail. Then Hanaa caught a cold and bowed out of the team baking project (hope you're feeling better, Hanaa!) and I decided it was time to get my own. Jim volunteered to make a trip to Michael's to pick one up--only after we both googled "flower nail" did we figure out exactly what it was. And Jim, who nearly suffered an acute anxiety attack when he walked into Michael's and saw the aisles and aisles of "stuff," as he referred to it, somehow zoomed straight to the flower nail and was able to exit the store without hyperventilating. After that, everything was easy.

I have been at this quixotic cake project for nearly two years now, and, while I think I should be able to make cake in my sleep, I still read the directions pretty carefully. The technique for this one is easy: mix all the ingredients except the egg whites until you have a thick, yellowish batter.

Then beat the egg whites until you get a meringue with stiff peaks.

And fold the two together.

I almost forgot to insert the rose pin. I had the cake in the oven for about 20 seconds when I remembered. I screamed a ladylike scream, grabbed the cake out of the oven, and inserted the pin.

No harm seemed to come to the cake. It came out of the oven looking perfect (were it not for the odd nail-like thing sticking out of the center).

After cooling in the pan for an hour, it came out of the pan, still looking good.

By this time Woody had arrived. He was very impressed with how level the cake was. He had been expecting it to sink. He also had lots of ideas for photographs: "Let's take a picture of the cake in the snow!" Jim looked at him as if he had just started speaking in tongues. But finally he agreed.

Woody did not drop the cake in a snowbank. And, after I whipped some cream with orange marmalade, I served the cake with a dollop of the cream and a dollop of some blood orange curd that Woody had brought along. (Woody always brings samples of his latest projects--he's a great person to invite to your house!)

Yes, the cake stands beautifully on its own. Although the whipped cream and the blood orange curd were great accompaniments, it didn't require accompaniments. It's delicate and flavorful, with a great texture and a perky, natural orange flavor. And that closes the "Sponge Cake" chapter--we started on June 8, 2009 with the Torta de Las Tres Leches and have made all the other sponge cakes in the chapter, including various angel food cakes, which I believe I've finally figured out how to bake. The orange chiffon cake is a great way to wrap up this varied and delicious assortment.


Sarah: "I love it! With the orange curd and the marmalade whipped cream, it seems very British--like something you'd get for tea at a high-toned tea shoppe."  (I'm sure she said "shoppe" not just "shop.")

Woody: "It turned out very well. I'd like to know how you got it to stay so level."

Jim: "Chocolate's always my favorite, but this is excellent. It's nice and moist. A good way of picking up some Vitamin C."


chris in RI said...

First off, yay Jim! I find Michaels intimidating too. Too big, too much stuff and a weird assortment of things that don't seem to belong together (at least in my mind). I would hate to see Michael's basement.

Marie, you have made this look so good, I am thinking of making it for dessert tonight. Is this basically the same cake as in the Cake Bible? It looks like the perfect, simple "prelude to spring". Do you think Woody is available to drop by..?

chris in RI

Marie said...

It's basically a half recipe of TCB's orange chiffon cake--baked in a springform pan instead of a tube pan, and using AP bleached flour instead of cake flour.
Yes, it would be a perfect prelude to spring (I can almost taste here in MN, even with all the leftover snow).
Would Woody make the trek to RI? It never hurts to ask.

Vicki said...

Jim, I feel your pain! Michaels is not for the faint of heart. Marie, have we really finished the Sponge Cake chapter? Hardly seems possible.

Hanaâ said...

The cake came out really nice, Marie. Love the height. And like Woody, I too am wondering, how did you get it so level? I considered making half a recipe (I have a 6"x3" springform pan, from Michaels, love that store), but the energy isn't there (yet).

To Chris In RI: it's UNbleached AP flour, not bleached or cake flour.

Charlotte said...

What was the purpose of the flower nail?

Monica said...

I was also wow by the "rise" on the cake as well. Would you believe that I had a total brain block and lost all of my pictures of the cake?

My own fault for not being "clear" as to what he needed to delete... and since I took the cake to work with me today, I was unable to save a piece to take at least one. Guess I will have to do it again.

chris in RI said...

Thanks Marie...made the original recipe from The Cake Bible (using cake flour in a tube pan). What a wonderful cake, light, flavorful and definitely springy (in more ways than one) I got dessert and a blog post!

Chris in RI

Jenn said...

Marie, congrats on a perfectly level cake! I also forgot the nail but it was 10 minutes later, which proven to be a little too late as mine sunk in the middle.

That's a fun picture of Woody and the cake. I wonder what's the temperature there - as is, how come he can wear short sleeve outdoors, with all that snow!

Marie said...

Yes! Amazing, isn't it?

I know you love Michael's, and are one of their best customers! You're right--the Bostini recipe says bleached and the orange glow chiffon says unbleached. I used bleached (I guess I don't read that carefully after all).

The metal flower nail serves as a substitute for the center of a tube pan--it allows even baking for a relatively tall cake.

Marie said...

Oh, Monica, too bad! You must feel like you didn't really bake the cake.

Definitely a win-win!

Vicki forget to put her flower nail in for five minutes! How funny that we all did that. It was in the 20's when Woody went outside coatless. We are a hearty bunch in Minnesota, and I believe that Woody's tai chi warms his blood.

Mendy said...


Everybody's cakes look so good! I'm still looking for a place to live with boxes all around. No baking for me. :(

Marie said...

So good to hear from you--I miss you! Let us know when you find a place and, more importantly, when you unpack your trusty toaster oven.

Lois B said...

Fantastic looking cake, Marie.

I just had to chime in regarding Michael's. I would love to have one right now. I recently traveled across town (to the other side of the tracks) to find Wilton food coloring gel. There are only two importers in Poland and one is in Poznan. If it weren't for the airlines' blasted restrictions on the weight of a suitcase, I would have brought half of Michael's with me.

chris in RI said...

(sorry to keep adding comments...last one, I promise)
Do you think the nice flatness of your cake was due to using bleached flour vs others using unbleached? Does bleaching do something to strengthen the structure of the cake? (I realize that last question may be rhetorical...)
chris in RI

Marie said...

That dang TSA--always interfering with our harmless hobbies!

It has crossed my mind that what might explain the good outcome is the two things I did wrong. If only I'd thought of that possibility earlier, I would have pretended that my mistakes were deliberate. ("Although Rose's instructions call for unbleached all-purpose flour, I had an idea that I'd get better structure if I used bleached."

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

first a confession. now that so many of you have made this cake i can tell you that it is my favorite one in the whole book! in all its simplicity, it pleases me most. and it was indeed the perfect cake to end the sponge cake chapter. The one you've saved for last, Zach's La Bomba is my favorite chocolate cake in the book.

woody and i both did this cake with cake flour in fact we tried so many things to keep it from dipping and it was finally the unbleached flour that did the trick. but maybe all the other things along the way were more important and apparently bleached flour will work or maybe even e an improvement.

the textures of all your cakes were impeccable. makes me long for one.

evil cake lady said...

i also used bleached flour, and i have the same cake pan as marie and mine rose above the top! (post to come)

marie, your cake looks lovely. how nice to have such wonderful accompaniments, and tell woody to put a coat on! geesh.

mendy, i wish you luck and speed in finding a new home. what a bummer to be living amongst boxes.

Marie said...

I can't believe you really have a favorite! (I feel like I have a new favorite every week--and when I start thinking about which cakes were the best, I get hopelessly indecisive.) This is a good one, though--especially when you consider the difficulty/taste ratio.
I sense more experiments coming.

Didn't we both claim that we were going to dump that cake pan after the last time we used it? Now I can't remember why I was mad at it.
Temperatures in the 50's next week. All good Minnesotans will start wearing shorts.

doughadear said...


I can't believe it's been two years already! This cake looks so light and fresh, perfect for spring.

Glad to see we're not the only ones with snow still hanging around.

Sarah the Bear said...

Marie, your cake looks great, and I love the addition of the orange curd. Unfortunately, orange isn't my favorite flavor, but this is a beautiful cake regardless. It reminded me of the sponge cake episode of Curb your Enthusiasm...:)