oil-free chocolate chiffon cake

无添加奶油 &油还是一样好吃?!

This is the subtitle of a cookbook, which means, 'How could that be possible?! It still tastes as good without adding butter or oil?!'

When my baking friend showed me her oil free chocolate banana muffins made following a recipe from this cookbook, 好吃不发胖低卡甜点 (loosely translated as: delicious low-calories desserts), I got really interested.

I bookmarked a few recipes and one of the first few I tried is this Chocolate Chiffon cake. The ingredients list is typical of a basic chiffon cake recipe, the only difference is, there is no oil in the list. There are no other special ingredients other than the usual eggs, sugar, flour and liquid.

Whenever I make a chiffon cake, I would usually prepare the egg yolk batter first using a manual balloon whisk before beating the egg whites with an electric handheld mixer. The instructions for this recipe however differ from my usual method as is it necessary to use the electric mixer to beat the egg yolks. Without having to wash the whisks/beaters of the mixer, the egg whites are first beaten before preparing the yolk batter. Hence, it is important to get ready the necessary ingredients so that the yolk batter can be prepared quickly, otherwise, the beaten egg whites may probably deflate if left aside for too long.

Other than the sequence, the rest is quite straight forward. Yet, I made a hiccup while preparing the egg whites. I over beat the whites, just slightly, but it still affected the finished product! What a major no no, and really unforgivable for someone who bakes chiffon cakes so regularly. I learned not to take things too easy or for granted, even if I am very familiar with the process.

Since I over beat the egg whites, I deflated the batter while folding the whites to the yolk batter. The finished batter was still thick but it could only fill up the pan to just 3/4 full. The cake didn't turn out as tall but fortunately, the texture was not really affected. Even without the use of any oil, the cake was still moist, soft and fluffy. If someone were to give me this cake to try, I would never be able to detect that it was made without oil. The only tell tale sign is that there wasn't any oil stain on the doily paper which I used to line the cake. Another thing I noticed is, the cake was a little more difficult to unmold, or is it just me?

The book states that 1/8 of this 17cm cake has got 113 kcal compared to 180 kcal for a similar chocolate chiffon made with oil, lower calories without compromising on the taste and texture. I used valrhona cocoa powder which lends the cake a richer and intense cocoa flavour. The cocoa powder also gives the cake a deep mahogany color. The pictures I took show a lighter shade as I had to adjust the brightness and contrast as the original images were too dark. I also took the liberty to add in some rum besides the pure vanilla extract. This recipe is a keeper and it will be my go-to chocolate chiffon cake from now on.

Oil free Chocolate Chiffon Cake (无油巧克力戚风蛋糕)

(makes one 17cm cake)

4 egg whites (I used eggs with 55g net weight)
45g caster sugar

4 egg yolks (I used eggs with 55g net weight)
25g caster sugar
60ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum (optional)
55g cake flour
20g cocoa powder (I used dutch-processed valrhona cocoa powder)

  • Sieve flour and cocoa powder, set aside. 
  • Get ready all other ingredients.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degC.
  • In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric handheld mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Add half of the sugar and turn to high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar mixture and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage. The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. Set aside. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter.)
  • Place egg yolks and sugar in another mixing bowl. With the electric handheld mixer (Note: it is not necessary to wash the beaters/whisks after beating the egg whites), beat the mixture on low speed until it turns pale and thick. Add in milk, vanilla extract and rum (if using), beat on low speed to combine. Sieve over the flour and cocoa powder, beat on low speed till the flour is fully incorporated. (Note: prepare all ingredients in advance to allow this step to be done fairly quickly so that the beaten egg whites will not be left aside for too long.)
  • Fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula (I prefer to use a balloon whisk) until just blended.
  • Pour batter into a 17cm chiffon tube pan(do not grease the pan). Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
  • Place chiffon pan in middle rack of oven. Bake at 180 degC for 30 mins. Remove from oven and invert the pan immediately, let cool completely before unmould. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and the center core. Release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove the cake.
Recipe source: adapted from 好吃不发胖低卡甜点 by 茨木くみ子
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