Friday, August 03, 2012

melon chiffon cake

It must be the heat that's frying my brain cells, making me fantasise about bath tubs filled with ice, voluptuously ripe slices of cold fragrant melon, beaded with honeyed moisture, and vacations in the Arctic region. I've been wilting since April, so at this point, I'd even settle for any job that requires walking in and out of freezers all day.

Then what does mum do, but saunter in with not one, not two, but three chiffon cake pans, ill gotten goods, from a church sale.

They were tagged $4 for the lot, but mum wore the poor guy manning the stall down to $2, because "it says 2 on the side dammit!", with an extra inner tube, thrown in, just in case I somehow manage to lose one of the three. There must be a special place in heaven, for shoppers like her.

So what's a girl to do, with visions of melon in her head, and 3 tube pans in her hand? Duh! Make melon chiffon cake of course! I've made pandan chiffon countless times, but never actually used a proper chiffon  pan, happily turning my kermit-green, wondrously perfumed pandan chiffons out of ordinary tube pans. I've not made any other kind besides pandan. Time to shake things up a little, and put those pans to use. Maybe a few chiffon cakes for the church's Sunday canteen, might polish our collective karma a little.

When I halved my melon, I realised I had been duped by the glorious scent wafting up from its stump when I was squeezing and sniffing it at the supermarket; I held an olfactory dud in my hands. Oh well, it happens to the best of us. It was juicy and achingly sweet, though as stubbornly as I prodded and poked at its gorgeous coral toned flesh, not a scintilla of heady melony perfume did it give. Hence, the inclusion of melon essence. Include or omit it, as you see fit. Next time, I'll probably get an already cut melon, to avoid any surprises.

Chiffon cakes are an American creation, but we south east Asians can't get enough of them and love to flavour them in weird and wonderful ways, like with pandan and er.... melon. My usual chiffon recipe requires the yolks and whites of the eggs to be beaten separately, but today's recipe, which is part chiffon, part genoise, breaks every rule of chiffon cake making.

So, dump those yolks and whites together and give them a lusty whirr in the mixer! Grease the life out of that  ego destroying, soul sucking chiffon pan, dust it to death with flour and you can just forget about cooling the chiffon upside down. I'm feeling defiant today, I don't want to whisk two separate bowls of eggs, I don't want to pry my cake out with a knife, and I don't want to do precariously kinky balancing acts involving my upturned cake and and a narrow necked bottle, so THERE!!! Go on chiffon punk, sink, if you dare.! No? I didn't think so......

The fragrance as the chiffon baked in the oven was wonderful (thank you food scientists, you guys do have your uses) and the pretty rose tinted buttercup of the tender airy crumb made me want to repaint my apartment. My only grouse was that the cake wrinkled a little on top, from rising too quickly then deflating, but that could be the hot spots in my oven, or maybe heat loving gremlins really do live in my oven?!? Nah! It's probably just the tooth fairy, pissed off that I forgot to invite her over for tea ;)

I'll definitely do it this way again and work out the kinks until it's as pretty and perfect a peachy plateau of perfumed palatability, as any classic meringue based chiffon. And if you're reading this babe, I was only kidding about the repainting. Honest! *fingers crossed*

Melon Chiffon Cake

Preheat oven at 170 C (340 F). Grease and flour chiffon tube pan. Knock off excess flour.

Whisk together the egg, sugar, cream of tartar, melon essence and food colour if using,  and salt on high speed until mixture is very thick and foamy and forms ribbons that hold when dropped from the whisk. 

Combine the flour, baking powder and sift. Gently but thoroughly fold half the flour mixture over egg mixture. Fold the remaining flour mixture into eggs. 

Pour melon puree and oil around the sides of batter and fold gently but thoroughly into batter. As soon as well incorporated, stop folding. Tap mixing bowl sharply on counter twice to bring air bubbles at bottom of batter up to the surface.          

Transfer batter to pan and tilt gently to level if necessary. Bake for 25 minutes then lower heat to 160 C (330 F) and continue baking until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. This should take about another 20 - 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, and cool until cake shrinks back from tin. This will take about 10 minutes. To remove cake, run a thin and blunt knife around edge of cake and around the tube of the pan and invert on to cooling rack.  

When cake is completely cold, slice with a sharp serrated knife. Serve with tea. My favourite is very lightly sweetened hot jasmine green tea or black Darjeeling tea.

I'd like to end today's post with a "thank you" to my friend Biren who sent me the very pretty card below, all the way from Minnesota, filled with such warm sentiments and wonderful wishes. She had already thanked me personally for inviting her to my home when she was in Singapore in June this year, but being the person she is, I suppose she felt it wasn't enough. Blogging has been an unexpectedly enriching and rewarding experience and I am indescribably grateful that my friendship with Biren is one of those rewards.


  1. Hi Denise.. I never heard of melon chiffon cake before but I can imagine the smell of it over here.. Bookmarked for trial!

    Anyway, where did you get that chiffon mould? If you dont mind sharing it :)

  2. Hi, thanks for checking out this post. The pans in the pics above were given to me by my mum, who bought them very very cheap at a church sale. I think that you can get them though, from neighbourhood sundry shops that sell pots, pans, pails, brooms and other domestic things. Failing that, you could try Phoon Huat (the one near to Braddell MRT station is quite well stocked) or Joo Chiat Rd, where there are shops selling baking and cooking equipment.

  3. $2.00 for three tube pans...that's a bargain! I have the fancy, heavy Nordic ones. I'll have to bring you one the next time I visit if I can squeeze it into my luggage.

    I love the pretty color of your cake and I am sure it must be delicious as are all your wonderful creations. Loving the colors of your new teacups as well :) are so sweet! I have always enjoyed my visits to Singapore and I enjoy it even more so now. Thank you so much for your friendship.

    Hugs always....Biren xx

    1. My mum is a shopper extraordinaire, no one else I know has such a nose for bargains.Yes, I think the chiffon colour is just gorgeous, as re my new teacups - they are painted to look like mosaic work.

      I hope we will be friends for a long, long time :)

  4. What a great cake! We just got a huge melon in our CSA box, so I'm going to have to try this!

    1. Hi Sara, wish we had CSA schemes here, but that's another story for another post ;) Hope this turns out well if you try it!

  5. Darling Denise, what a creative idea. Melon in chiffon! Sounds really tempting. Wish I can have some right away. Btw, happy weekend. Hope you're having a lovely evening.

    1. Thanks Kristy - I'm very happy that I tried it out and the outcome was as good as I had hoped it would be, though I didn't follow the traditional chiffon method. Hope you have a fantastic weekend too, and a great new week ahead :)

  6. This is another wonderful treat! I love your pictures, as always.
    Thanks for submitting your amazing pictures to the YUMGOGGLE Gallery. We greatly appreciate your support. We will be expecting more tasty and palate-pretty pictures ;)Thanks!

    1. Hi, thanks for the kind words, and for publishing my photos. It's a pleasure to contribute as I've been a silent fan since My Fudo. Love what you guys have done and continue to do and hope Yumgoggle goes on to even greater things :)

  7. This is an amazing treat Denise and what a great way to use melons. I love your diatribe about the 'dud BTW is it necessary to use double acting baking powder?

    BTW, how in the world do you stay thin baking up these goodies?

    chow! DEVAKI @ weavethousandflavors

    1. Hi Devaki :) You don't have to use double acting baking powder, or any baking powder at all, for that matter, in a chiffon cake. Some people use self raising flour as a surety, but theoretically, the air whisked into the yolks and whites, should be enough to lift the batter for an airy, tall, soft cake. I used double acting baking powder because it has two rises, instead of one, which is the case for normal baking powder. Double acting bp has two acids instead of one and these acids cause two reactions, the first one when it comes into contact with liquid, as in when mixing the batter, the second reaction when the batter is exposed to the oven heat, so you should get a higher rise then if you just used normal baking powder. Because I didn't whisk the yolks and whites separately, I was afraid the rise would not be as high as for a traditional chiffon, so I hedged my bets with the double power powder :D Or you can just call it cheating ;)


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