From the Chronicle Kitchen
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Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Chiffon Cake
Cinnamon, aniseed, cloves, ginger, and fennel seed may sound like an odd combination. Not so. These spices are ground together to make Chinese five-spice powder. The blend adds a mysterious, subtle, and appealing flavor to chocolate and to this moist, light chiffon cake. The seasoning is also sprinkled lightly over the glaze. Look for jars of the powder in the spice section of supermarkets.
Chiffon cakes bake in a large ungreased tube pan. This allows the cake to climb up the pan and remain there while it cools. I once greased a pan by mistake. The cake rose extremely high, then slid down the pan and collapsed as soon as it came out of the oven. Chiffon cakes cool in the pan upside down so they do not collapse under their own weight. This tall cake is delicate when warm, but quite sturdy once it cools.
Makes 12 servings
Mixing time 15 minutes for cake and glaze
Baking 325°F (165°C/gas mark 3) for about 1 hour and 10 minutes
1 3/4 cups (205 g) cake (soft-wheat) flour
1/2 cup (45 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
2 1/2 tsp five-spice powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola or corn oil
7 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup (180 ml) water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (essence)
1 tsp cream of tartar
6 oz (170 g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup (75 ml) heavy (double) cream
1 tsp corn syrup
6 oz (170 g) milk chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract (essence)
3/4 tsp five-spice powder for dusting
12 dark chocolate strips, each about 2 by 3/8 in (5 by 1 cm)
Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C/gas mark 3). Have ready a 9 1/2- or 10-in (24- or 25-cm) fixed-bottom tube pan with sides at least 3 3/4 in (9.5 cm) high. Do not use a nonstick pan. Line the bottom with parchment (baking) paper.
To make the cake: Sift the flour, the cocoa powder, 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar, the five-spice powder, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Use a large spoon to make an indentation in the center of the flour mixture and add the oil, egg yolks, water, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the mixture until smooth and thick, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
In a clean large bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed until the whites are foamy and the cream of tartar dissolves. On medium speed, beat the egg whites until they look shiny and smooth and the movement of the beaters forms lines in the mixture. When you stop the mixer and lift the beaters, the beaten whites should cling to them. On high speed, slowly beat in the remaining 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, then beat for 1 minute until the whites form firm glossy peaks. Use a rubber spatula to fold the milk chocolate into the reserved egg yolk mixture. Stir about one-third of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining whites until no white streaks remain. Scrape the batter into the tube pan and gently smooth the top.
Bake until the top feels firm when lightly touched and any small cracks look dry, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Invert the pan onto a narrow-necked bottle (a full wine bottle is stable and works well) and let cool for 1 hour. Run a thin knife around the sides and center tube to loosen the cake. Invert the cake onto a wire rack so it is bottom up. Cool the cake thoroughly on the wire rack.
To make the glaze: In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and corn (golden) syrup over low heat until the cream is hot. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the milk chocolate, and let it sit in the hot cream mixture for about 30 seconds to soften. Whisk the glaze until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Use a thin metal spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let the glaze firm for about 1 hour.
Put the five-spice powder in a small strainer and dust it lightly and evenly over the glaze. Use a spoon to lay one chocolate strip on the glaze, then lay another strip across it. Arrange five more pairs of strips over the top of the cake. Slip a large metal spatula under the cake and slide it onto a serving plate. The cooled cake is sturdy and easy to move. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake into slices.
The cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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