Grandpa celebrated his 89th birthday on April 17. I called Grandma up a couple nights earlier and asked if I could bring a cake: “Well, sure. That will save me having to bake something. I had thought, ‘maybe I could ask Kristina to bake a cake,’ but I know how busy you are.” Perfect! Coffee Chiffonlets were coming up in the heavenly cake bakers’ schedule, and if I know anything about my grandfather, it’s that he loves his coffee. It was almost a guarantee that he would love this cake.
I don’t know whether this cake is on the quick and easy list, and I’m too lazy to go downstairs to find my copy of the book to find out, but if it’s not, it should be. Well, it’s quick and easy except for the frosting, but we’ll get to that. I don’t have a whole lot of process pictures for you, this time. I guess that’s what happens when I bake on weeknights.
Mix the dry ingredients with the egg yolks, oil, water, and instant espresso powder. Then clean & dry your bowl and whisk, and make a meringue with the egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar.
Fold the meringue into the batter, then divy it up into 6 mini angel food cake pans. I didn’t have mini angel food cake pans, so I figured if angel food cake can be baked in mini pans, then why shouldn’t something that can be baked in mini pans be able to be baked in a full-size tube pan? Plus full size makes a better birthday cake, anyway. My gamble paid off.
Aside from missing the mini pans, I didn’t have kahlua, either, so I used some Bailey’s in the syrup, which is why it’s a little cloudy. I know, not the same thing at all, but at least Irish cream plays well with coffee. The other liqueurs I had in my pantry would have clashed badly. They all work well in hot chocolate, though. Does it surprise anyone that I don’t drink coffee, but love my hot chocolate? Unfortunately, the syrup didn’t absorb into the cake very well, even though I brushed it with the syrup Thursday night for a Saturday afternoon party.
The frosting was a bit more time consuming. You start by making dulce de leche, which involves cooking sweetened condensed milk for an hour and a half in a water bath in the oven. I’d never had dulce de leche, so I had no idea whether I’d gone far enough in the cooking process. Maybe that’s why it never really came together with the whipping cream. I did double the batch to be able to frost the whole cake, but I don’t think that should really matter. I started to see some curdling before I got to any sort of peaks (stiff or otherwise), so I stopped. It wasn’t stiff enough to pipe stars or shells or anything, but at least it was spreadable.
Jay insisted that I really should write “Happy Birthday” on it, so I tried to come up with options. He suggested piping gel, which I had handy, and would be easy to colour, but I didn’t think the flavour would go that well. My other option was using some of the leftover dulce de leche, but I wasn’t sure how well it would stand up to travel up to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. Then I spotted the half bar of chocolate leftover from the whoopie pies. Aha! I melted it carefully in the microwave, then scooped it into a ziploc bag and snipped off a tiny corner.
Nobody seemed to mind the wonky piping, and the cake itself was a huge hit. Grandpa loved the texture, my younger (they’re rapidly outgrowing the stage I can call them ‘little’) cousins consumed their pieces up quickly, and Aunt Gwen said something to the effect of “This is really good, and I don’t even like cake, so coming from me that says a LOT.” I don’t think Grandpa could quite put his finger on why he liked it so much until I told him what the flavour was. He wondered about the spongy-ness, and I told him it was a chiffon cake. *blank stare* “It’s made similar to an angel food cake…” “Whatever that is” “…but with coffee flavour.” “Oh, that’s why it’s so good.”