I love chiffon cakes! It’s so light and fluffy that you can easily eat a quarter of the cake in one sitting. And it’s really versatile, you can flavour it any way you like by changing the liquids; ie in this case, I subbed the orange juice called for in the original recipe with a strong cup of earl grey tea. Another of my favourite liquids to use is soy milk, it yields a cake that is slightly denser with a lovely soy fragrance. Or, instead of changing the liquids in the recipe, you can add a dry ingredient like spices, herbs and cocoa powder, or pastes like adzuki bean or black sesame, or even fruit purées.
Just a quick tip though, if adding an “oily” flavouring like sesame paste, reduce the oil in the recipe slightly to compensate for the additional oil from the flavouring. This is because oil/butter bursts precious air bubbles and this will result in a flat, heavy chiffon cake.
And the most important thing you need to know when making chiffon cakes- don’t grease the tube pan (yes, you need one)! And flip it upside down to cool immediately so it doesn’t collapse when cooling.
Crème chiboust is crème patissiere lightened with meringue, in this case, italian meringue. It’s light, mousse-like and the least rich of all crèmes. But on the other hand, it’s also one of the sweetest because of the meringue. The chiboust tart is a classic French tart filled with caramelised apples, soft crème chiboust, and a crisp caramelised sugar crust. Calvados gives the apple flavour a boost, but I swapped both the apples and Calvados for pears and Grand Marnier because that’s what I had on hand. Overall a pretty tasty tart, although not one I’d usually choose if I had a choice, haha. I think it’s the burnt sugar and meringue combination, it tastes quite like Baked Alaska which is not my favourite thing. But it’s a fun pastry to make, all the components are easy to make and assemble, and caramelising the sugar is fun/dangerous. It’s usually done with an electric carameliser but it’s not a common piece of equipment to have at home, so I just used a cheap but solid chef’s knife with a wooden handle which I placed directly onto a gas burner to get it red hot (yes, scary!) and then used it to brulée the surface of the chiboust which I had sprinkled with caster sugar. I wouldn’t recommend this technique- it’s pretty (very) dangerous. And sugar catches on fire.. so yea. Lol. Do this at your own risk and open all your windows.
When it comes to desserts, I’ll always go for something super creamy or something super sour. This lime meringue tart is mouth-puckeringly sour and the meringue is soft and sweet. I used pâte brisée for the tart shell because it’s less sweet and more sturdy compared to pâte sucrée. For the final touch, I sprinkled some desiccated coconut on the meringue right before browning it- just for a subtle tropical perfume and a slightly more interesting aesthetic- white on white is always pretty, right? I don’t have a blowtorch yet so I just switched the oven to its “top grill” mode (dunno? it’s the little symbol with the zigzag line) and placed the tarts on the highest shelf closest to the heating element. It browned the meringue very evenly (yay!) and quickly (yay!) so do keep an eye on them and don’t run off to do something else!
The lime curd is super yummy and quick to make, do exactly as you would for lemon curd. I used a recipe from a Japanese/French pastry book but the recipe is pretty standard. I’ve adapted it slightly and included it here; it’s a small amount because I halved it but you can always double it back.
56g lime juice
zest of 1 lime
72g butter, room temperature
Bring a pot of water to boil. Whisk the eggs, lime juice and sugar in a bowl and place it on the pot of boiling water; make sure the bowl is not touching the water. This is called a “bain marie”, ie a double boiler. Keep whisking the egg mixture on the bain marie until it thickens (this will be almost exactly when it hits 80°C, but you don’t need to break out your thermometer for this). Be patient, it will seem very liquid and not at all set but it will jell quite suddenly when it hits the right temperature as the eggs cook and coagulate. When it thickens, remove from the heat immediately and continue whisking to bring down the temperature slightly so it doesn’t continue cooking and scramble (if making a large amount, dunk into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking). Leave to cool until only slightly warm (36°C if you want to get technical about it..) then whisk in the butter in three additions. At this point your curd will be thick, luscious and ready to use. This quantity fills about 6-7 7cm tart shells.
Eton mess is super delicious and one of the easiest yet impressive-looking desserts to make. It’s a summertime pudding created in Eton College and popular throughout the hot summer months in the UK, where strawberries and cream are plentiful and really, really delicious. All you need to do is mix strawberries, crushed meringues and whipped cream, and there you have it- a delightfully juicy, creamy, chewy and barely-sweet dessert. I’ve added some mascarpone to the whipped cream to give it more body and luscious creaminess and also the seeds from a vanilla bean for a sweet, aromatic vanilla flavour.
Crisp meringue, cool, creamy mascarpone and tart, buttery roasted apricots = heavenly! And if you haven’t got any apricots just the meringues and mascarpone make a delicious pair as well.
Pavlovas are possibly one of the most delicious things to eat, and so effortlessly pretty. It’s perfect as it is- its crisp, fragile shell, marshmallowy centre, luxurious cream and sweet-tart fruit tumbled on top. Absolutely perfect. Although I used peaches along with strawberries this time, I prefer it with just strawberries. Lucas Hollweg’s brilliant book, Good Things To Eat has a beautiful autumn version with blackberries and cinammon- what a dream. A gorgeous book with gorgeous photographs, definitely one of my favourites.
My go-t0 recipe for pavlova is from here- I’ve made it several times, and it’s flawless.