Chocolate chiffon cake with cocoa cream filling

It's time for a back-to-school cake!  I almost forgot about this little tradition of mine because time has been flying by and there just doesn't seem to be much time to think or plan too far ahead.  Luckily, I remembered in time.  What we usually do is very simple...we have a little celebration dinner after the first day of school.  The idea of having a "back-to-school" cake to cap it off is just a fun excuse for us to make and enjoy a cake together.
I was inspired to make a chocolate chiffon cake for this year's back-to-school cake for a few reason.  I just love plain chiffon cake - the fluffy, light, moist texture with the lovely richness from using not only egg whites (i.e., angel food cake) but also egg yolks.  I'm devoted to its simplicity though I've made (and adored) a banana-chocolate version as well.  And not long ago, someone asked me about suggestions on how to make a chocolate chiffon cake.  That got me thinking that I would like to try a full-on chocolate version myself!  Being that the little guy loves chocolate almost as much as I do, I thought I'd make it for our back-to-school cake.  
Since my now fourth-grader adores frosting and creamy fillings (way more than I do!), I thought I'd add some to this chiffon cake.  The original recipe for this cake suggested mocha whipped cream as well as a chocolate glaze.  My son's love of coffee-flavored treats seems to have waned recently so I went with cocoa - rather than mocha - cream.  To keep things simple and a bit less decadent, I opted not to glaze the cake.  This had me thinking about a delicious cake, called the "Windmill" at New York's Veniero's that I love and have not had in way too long.  This isn't quite the same but will do until I get a chance to go there and share a slice or two of it with my fellas.

I'm glad I decided to skip the chocolate glaze.  I mean, it would take a lot to cover this tower of a chiffon cake!  And seeing how lofty it turned out, I decided to slice it into 3 layers to divvy up the cocoa cream between.  I used a cup of cream and you'll have just enough to give it a relatively modest coating between the layers.
I may be firmly on team "plain chiffon" but if you're looking to change things up or hankering for a light, spongy cake with some chocolate flavor (instead of a dense chocolate overload - which is not by any means a bad thing, in my book), this is one to consider. 

The cake is as light, moist, and bouncy as you'd expect and require a chiffon to be.  The chocolate flavor is relatively mild. For more of a chocolate hit, adding a chocolate glaze or grating some chocolate into the batter (like I did hereare good options.  Whereas I would not want to detract from a plain version in any way (I adore the pure egg flavor of it without cream or other accompaniments), I think the cream filling works really well for this chocolate rendition.  My fellas (my husband and my son) certainly enjoyed it.
This is a lot of cake, yes, but you'd be surprised by how easily it goes down and how quickly a big slice disappears!  Back-to-school day this year also happened to be my brother's birthday and I was able to deliver a few slices for the birthday boy to enjoy at his leisure.  There was plenty of cake to go around and that's a good thing because cakes are made for sharing (I only hoard occasionally).


The base recipe for this chocolate chiffon cake comes from Joy of Baking.  I made a few changes, including simply using 6 eggs for this cake rather than 6 eggs plus an additional egg white.  I didn't think omitting the egg white would make a big difference and I can tell you from my experience that you can keep it simple and just use 6 whole eggs. 
To be totally specific, I actually used 4 large eggs and 2 extra-large eggs (I usually have both in my fridge).  It's a bit random, I know, but I find that with this type of recipe, going with extra-large eggs doesn't hurt and I used a couple of them as extra insurance since I didn't want to bother with that extra egg white (I still haven't figure out a way to keep egg yolks for more than a few hours).  My cake puffed and was substantial so go ahead and just use 6 large eggs if you don't have any extra-large ones on hand.  Just be sure to fold the batter gently. Investing in a really large rubber spatula is great for folding batter like this.
It goes into the tube pan looking like this:
After baking (about 50 minutes in my case), be prepared to set the pan upside down until completely cooled so that the cake doesn't deflate at all.  It is quite a big cake!  You can see why I decided to slice it into 3 layers.
Now I won't go into the obvious about how rustic my cake looks so no one feels the obligation to kindly reassure me other wise.  Suffice is to say, I was just glad I got the layers sliced and the cake relatively presentable.

More importantly, the end result was a moist, spongy cake with a kiss of chocolate flavor.  Chiffon cakes are unassuming but totally reliable. 
I hope you have an excuse (I mean...occasion) to make a cake real soon!


Recipe:

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Cocoa Cream Filling
Adapted from Joy of Baking

- Serves 10 to 12 easily - 

For chocolate chiffon cake:
6 large eggs, separated 
2 cups (200 grams) sifted cake flour
1/4 cup (25 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process but you can also use natural)
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar, divided
2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola or vegetable oil
3/4 cup (180 ml) freshly brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

For cocoa cream filling:
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make cakePreheat oven to 325 degrees.  Have a 10-inch ungreased tube pan ready.  

In a large bowl, sift cake flour, cocoa, 3/4 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  In a medium-size bowl, whisk egg yolks together with the oil, coffee, and vanilla.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and whisk together until smooth.

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until soft peaks emerge, then gradually add remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and beat until whites are just stiff and glossy.  

Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter in 3 increments until just blended.  Avoid deflating the batter as much as possible.

Pour batter into the ungreased tube can.  Run a knife through the batter to eliminate air bubbles and smooth the top.  Bake until cake springs back lightly to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.  Remove cake from the oven and immediately invert the cake (upside down over a cup or large bottle) to cool completely (allow up to 3 hours).

Remove the cake by running a sharp knife around the sides of the pan and the center core, angling the knife towards the pan to try to keep the crust intact on the cake.   

Make cocoa cream filling: Place the cold heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer (preferably also cold) fitted with the whisk attachment.  Add sugar and cocoa powder and being beating together.  Add vanilla extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks.

Assemble cake: Using a serrated knife, slice cake horizontally into equal 3 layers.  Spread half of the cocoa cream onto the bottom layer.  Place the middle layer on top of it and spread remaining cream evenly across.  Top with the last layer of cake.  (You could reserve a bit of the cream to pipe a decoration on top of the cake, if desired.  You could also dust the top of the cake with some unsweetened cocoa powder.)

The cake can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.  Cut slices and bring to room temperature before serving.  




46 comments:

  1. Hi Monica, how wonderful you make a cake to celebrate going back to school. You are such a thoughtful mom. Looks delicious!

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    1. Oh, I'll just take any excuse to make a cake, Cheri...but thank you!

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  2. Monica, I know this gorgeous cake will go down so easily! Chiffon cake is so light and ever-so-easy to eat! I love this chocolate version and the filling just looks divine. Tell me, do you have some special cake cutting apparatus to keep the cutting level or you just do with a free hand and knife? I am always nervous about slicing cake horizontally for fear of it being uneven. Mmm, I may gave to dust down the tube pan. Love your celebratory back-to-school cake :-)

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    1. So true about chiffon cakes! I just love them...so moist yet light as air. : )
      I share your nerves about slicing cakes. That's why I usually just go with 2 baked layers. In this case, it was just the serrated knife and me. I just hoped for the best. : )

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  3. Damn delicious!
    lovely choco cream choco cake,
    the photograph really tickle my taste buds....

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  4. The cake looks so soft and airy! Well done, Monica.

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    1. Chiffon cakes are one of my favorites, for sure...

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  5. This looks lovely, Monica! Hope back-to-school is going well for you all!

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    1. It's very early days yet but so far, so good. Hope things are not too hectic for you!

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  6. I love that you make a back to school cake! That's such a great tradition!

    And this cake looks soooo good. I'm trying to be good and not eat dessert tonight and this isn't helping one little bit! :)

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    1. Thanks, Ashley. Cake seems to taste better when there's a special 'reason' for it. : ) No dessert is rough...maybe just scale them down? haha

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  7. I love the idea of a back to school cake! This looks so fluffy and yummy!

    Sues

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  8. What an incredible incentive to go to school..you are a great Mom! I love chiffon cakes (actually, I am wondering I there is any cake that I don't like:-)) This one is totally my kind with that height and chocolate in it.

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    1. lol! I love your love of all cakes, my friend! : )

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  9. Back to School cake? you're an awesome mom! :) and chiffon cake...seriously, is there anything prettier or more delightful? no...no there is not. people don't make chiffon cakes nearly as much as they used to nowadays, and that's a total shame.

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    1. Don't give me too much credit, Shannon. I just need an excuse to make a big cake sometimes. : ) I am so glad I discovered the chiffon cake. Everyone seems to love them but don't make them. I just love it and I'm glad it's in my life. : )

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  10. Love this "naked" cake! Sometimes with all this rich chocolate there's not really a need for extra on the outside. It's perfect as is!

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    1. Yeah! I almost sound "hip", making a "naked" cake. I didn't even realize - thank you, Joanne. haha. I definitely could go sans icing/frosting/cream but my son thinks everything is better with it. Thank goodness it works here with the chocolate and there's not much.

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  11. This is such a great tradition, I love that you make a back to school cake every year! This chocolate chiffon cake looks amazing and super light and fluffy! I love that you kept it simple too - it looks perfect! Definitely a wonderful treat and has me wishing I could be the one going back to school so I can get a piece of this cake :)

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    1. Simple is pretty much all I can do so it's easy for me, Kelly. ; ) You have a wonderful week!

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  12. Replies
    1. I do love how light chiffon cakes are, yet packed with flavor.

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  13. How Gorgeous...and I've never tried one. Hopefully I'll have a great excuse to make one soon.

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    1. I think you would love a chiffon cake, Balvinder! There's got to be a happy occasion for cake soon!

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  14. What a gorgeous, lofty and amazing looking cake! I am dreaming about having it with a huge glass of ice cold milk. It looks so decadent, rich and elegant! Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Kristi! It's big and foamy, goes down easy! : )

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  15. What a gorgeous cake! And it's a fun back-to-school tradition for you to have.

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    1. Thank you, Beth! It was fun to make. I'm always happy to see a cake like this one rise in the oven and come together. And having an 'occasion' to eat it is nice. :)

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  16. A light chocolate cake with a bit of rich frosting sounds like the perfect balance! We had an end of the year cake celebration (usually a Dairy Queen ice cream cake) tradition but I like your idea better. Few kids need a cake to be happy about the beginning of summer, but just about every child could use a cake to create a celebration out of back to work at school! Angel food is my all time favorite, so it is odd that I haven't made many chiffon cakes (with a similar airy texture) except for at Passover when chiffon cakes made with matzo cake meal are the norm. (I think all those eggs are needed to create a cake out of cake meal!) Now I feel like celebrating Tuesday with this cake. :)

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    1. Ice cream cakes are the best - and any occasion is a good one! I'm not a big fan of angel food cake...I really miss the flavor/richness of the yolks so I'm all about the chiffon. : ) So interesting about making chiffon cakes with matzo cake meal...I have so much to learn!

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  17. Ohhhhhh YUMMMM!!!! I reallly don't think we need an excuse to make a cake and this cake for sure!!!!!! I'm lovinggggggg how light this looks !!!! The cocoa cream filling sounds absolutely decadent!!!!!!!! I think I need a slice of this cake on a daily basis to keep my sanity intact considering the mountain-load of college assignments I am going to be bombarded with hehehe!

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    1. I'm glad you like it, Samina. Thanks! You definitely need some cake (preferably, chocolate) to get through all the assignments. Keep it in mind. ; )

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  18. Lovely. I love chiffon cakes. They are so light and soft, like a pillow I can sleep on. :P I usually leave my chiffon cake plain, but I like your idea of adding the cream filling. So decadent.

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    1. I usually keep my chiffon plain. I love the flavor of the egg to shine through but for this chocolate version, it isn't that way so the cream actually works well. :)

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  19. I haven't had a chiffon cake in ages! And I would also go with cocoa cream over mocha ;)

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    1. I hope you re-visit it. So simple but so good.

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  20. So lucky to be your child... :D Back to school will bring this chocolate chiffon cake! SO fluffy and delicious. Very tall too!

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    1. I'm always happy when I see the chiffon cakes rise in the oven and come out nice and lofty. : )

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  21. Wow! I love this recipe! Great job! I'd die to taste it!

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    1. Thanks - it's a nice big cake to make and share.

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  22. Ahh, how I love chiffon cakes. They're so deceptively light but totally an indulgence. What a great tradition (:

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    1. Do not say that, Monica! When I have the plain chiffon cakes, I always feel like they're *light*. I tend to think baked goods w/o butter are "light" and discount the oil...and oh, the sugar. But it's so worth it. Chiffon cakes rock. : )

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