Have you tried Earl Grey flavored baked goods before? How about baking with tea leaves? If you haven’t, you must try this Earl Grey chiffon cake. Earl Grey is a tea blend with delightful and calming citrus flavor. The citrus flavor comes from oil extracted from the rind of a bergamot orange.
As Earl Grey is my all-time favorite tea, all kinds of baked goods infused with Earl Grey tea are my top choices in bakeries. I would rank it higher than chocolate with my love of sweets (you see how serious I am?)! Earl Grey cookies, Earl Grey pound cake, and this Earl Grey chiffon cake just to name a few! Hmmm!
Tea-Infused Baked Goods
After living in the U.S., I realized tea-infused baked goods are not as popular here compared to Japan. This actually motivated me to learn how to bake so that I can enjoy my favorite Earl Grey baked goods at home, so I can enjoy them even if I am not in Japan.
If you haven’t tried making a chiffon cake before, trust me when I tell you it’s one of the easiest cake recipe. I thought it would be intimidating making it at home myself as well before trying, but that was 2 years ago and now it’s one of my favorite cake recipe to bake.
Chiffon Cake Batter – Meringue and Folding In
After baking my very first chiffon cake, I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t as challenging as I thought. The most crucial part to make a successful chiffon cake is to make perfect meringue and fold it into batter correctly.
In Japan, majority of recipes call for cold egg whites to make meringue (and we don’t use cream of tartar). If you already know how to make meringue with room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar, please use your own method. Otherwise you can follow my detailed instructions in the recipe.
When you finish making meringue, make sure to fold in egg whites gently so the tiny bubbles don’t deflate. If you deflate the egg whites too much, the cake will not be fluffy.
Chiffon Cake – Family’s Favorite
Chiffon cakes are my daughter’s favorite cake because she can help me make them and we enjoy making different types together. What I like the best about chiffon cakes is they are so fluffy and bouncy, and not too sweet. The sponge like texture is very light and airy (that I feel like I can eat half of the cake by myself!), and oh so heavenly!
Not to mention, it’s actually slightly healthier than other types of baked goods that use plenty of butter. This chiffon cake recipe uses just 3 Tbsp. of oil.
- 2 tsp. (3 g) Earl Grey loose tea leaves
- 1 Tbsp. (5 g) Earl Grey loose tea leaves
- 6 Tbsp. (90 ml) hot water
- 3 large eggs
- 85 g (3 oz, or ½ cup and take away 1 Tbsp.) sugar, separated
- 3 Tbsp. (40 ml) vegetable oil
- 75 g (2.6 oz., or ⅔ cup) cake flour (See Note for homemade cake flour recipe)
- 1 tsp. (3 g) baking powder
- 1 17-cm (about 7”) chiffon cake pan (Do not grease the pan. Chiffon cakes cling to the sides to rise. If you grease the pan, they will not rise as high.)
- Preheat the oven to 340F (170C).
- Put 2 tsp. Earl Grey loose tea leaves in a food processor (I used a Nutribullet here) and grind them to fine powder. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle to grind tea leaves, or put tea leaves in a bag and crush them.
- Put 1 Tbsp. Earl Grey loose tea leaves in a fine sieve over a bowl and pour 4 Tbsp. of hot water to seep a strong tea. After cooling down, drain and make sure you have 4 Tbsp. (60 ml) Earl Grey tea and set aside.
- Separate 3 eggs to whites and yolks.
- In a large bowl, whisk 3 egg yolks and roughly ⅓ of 85 g (3 oz) sugar.
- Add 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 4 Tbsp. tea, and whisk all together until combined.
- Add the powdered Earl Grey tea in the egg mixture and mix well.
- Sift 75 g (2.6 oz) cake flour and 1 tsp. baking powder into the egg mixture in 3 increments. Whisk until totally incorporated and make sure there are no lumps.
- Using a stand mixer (make sure there is no trace of water or oil), whip the egg whites on medium low sped (speed 4) till opaque, foamy and bubbly. Add ⅓ of the remaining sugar and continue whipping. After 30 seconds or so, increase the stand mixer speed to high (speed 10) and add the remaining sugar slowly in small increments. It takes about 2-3 minutes until stiff peaks form (from the moment you switched to speed 10, but this is just a rough guidance and it will vary based on stand mixers.). To check on stiff peaks, pull up your whisk and see if you can make strong “peak” that stays still without bending down.
- Using a spatula, fold in ⅓ of the egg whites in the batter until the mixture is homogeneous.
- Fold in the rest of egg whites in 2-3 increments and mix gently until the mixture is homogeneous.
- Pour the batter into the ungreased 17 cm (7”) chiffon cake pan in same location to prevent from foaming more bubbles. To remove or prevent air pockets before baking, run a skewer (chopstick, knife or spatula) through the batter and then drop gently a few times.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed. If the top gets burn too quickly, cover the top loosely with aluminum foil.
- The cake must be cooled upside down in its pan so that it stretch down instead of collapsing. Stick the cake pan on a tall heavy bottle or invert the cake pan onto a cooling rack (if you use angel food cake pan). Let it cool completely. To extract the cake, run a thin sharp knife or thin offset spatula around both the outer and inner edge of the cake and then tap the cake out onto a serving plate.
- Dust powder sugar on top, if you like.
Make sure you use the correct chiffon cake pan. The best types are the aluminum ones with a removable base (Do not use non-stick bakeware for chiffon cake – it will not work). Do not grease the mold because the cake needs to cling on the sides and center of the pan for support as it rises or it will collapse.
For a 17 cm aluminum chiffon cake pan, you can buy from Nihon Ichiban or Amazon.
For a 7 inch round angel cake pan with removable base, you can buy from Amazon.
All-Purpose Flour vs. Cake Flour:
All-purpose flour and cake flour do not perform the same. Cake flour is more delicate, and if you use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, the texture will be dense and tough. If you can't find cake flour, use this substitution:
Take one level cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 Tbsp, and then add 2 Tbsp of corn starch back in. (1 cup AP flour - 2 Tbsp AP flour + 2 Tbsp corn starch = 1 cup cake flour). Be sure to sift the flour 3-4 times to distribute the corn starch well.
Tips for beating egg whites:
-- Make sure your beaters and mixing bowl are clean and dry. A speck of oil or egg yolk on either one can minimize the volume of the beaten egg whites.
-- Avoid plastic bowls -- even clean ones may hold oily residue that can affect the beating quality of the egg whites.
-- Use a bowl that's wide enough to keep the beaters from being buried in the egg whites.
-- Do not overbeat or underbeat egg whites -- your cake may fall. Egg whites should be stiff but not dry.
Recipe adapted from Chiffon Cake Book by Junko Fukuda.