Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Vanilla Chiffon Roll

To be honest, this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe filled me with trepidation.  Vanilla Chiffon Roll.  Yikes.  Chiffon means beaten egg whites which means lots of folding.  And folding is just something that I am not very confident about.  I need a hands-on class on folding.  Origami?  Yeah, I can probably figure that out from a book.  Folding ingredients?  Not so much.  HOWEVER, I think I did a good job this time.  (Though I am not 100% sure...)  We'll just go with the idea that I did a good job, ok?

Anyway, the first thing to know about this cake is that it is filled with a chocolate-walnut mousse.  YUM.  I mean, YUM.   Toasted walnuts, walnut oil, melted bittersweet chocolate, egg yolks, sugar, water and heavy cream come together to make this marvelous, delicious mousse.  I will admit that I got distracted when whipping the cream so it got a bit OVER-whipped, but not so bad and I was still able to make a mousse (and not butter) so that was a relief!  Baking, among many many other things, can be problematic on sleep deprivation. The clever baby is already 9 months old, and he is getting teeth like gangbusters which leads to lots of waking, thus very little sleep for me.  I do find that sleep deprivation is a very good sort of torture - it does crazy things to the brain.  But that is not the topic for today, the Vanilla Chiffon Roll is, isn't it?  I am side-tracked already....

I made the mousse with relatively good success and set about making the scary vanilla chiffon cake.  And to be honest, I think the method was quite good and I ended up with very puffy batter.  HOWEVER (you knew there would be a however, didn't you?), the baking time on this recipe is just ridiculous.  Crazy.  Not at all accurate.  When the timer went off, that internal baking voice of mine said, "this is NOT done", so I let it cook a bit longer.  Then the timer went off again and again my internal voice said NO, but alas, I did not listen.  I was so scared of ruining my thus far successful chiffon by OVER-baking, that I decided that surely the time couldn't be THAT off and I removed the pan from the oven.  Mistake.  I let it cool and ended up with a VERY moist (moist is a nice word - instead of soggy and almost gummy) cake.  GRRRR!  I should have listened to that internal voice!  Ugh.  The next day, I zipped to the grocery store by our house to get MORE eggs (chiffon cakes take bunches) and began again.  This time I did an even better job with the folding and had a quite puffy, voluminous batter.  I baked this baby for TWICE the amount of time the recipe suggested.  For reference, the recipe said 10-12 minutes (CRAZY TALK) and I baked the second one for 22 minutes.  And honestly, it probably could have gone longer!  However it was browned on top and if I really loosely define the term "pulling away from the edges of the pan", I could accept it was done.  Again, I was getting scared about ruining the cake.  I let it cool and it remained a bit moist on the bottom... maybe a chiffon cake is supposed to be this moist?  Humph.

Did I mention that the cake is baked in a half-sheet pan?  Well, it is.  So it turns into this giant thin rectangular cake which I then flipped about in an elaborate way to get the cake right side up on the BOTTOM side of the sheet pan, instead of on the INSIDE of the sheet pan.  Then I spread that heavenly mousse all over the cake.  Roll it up and put it in the refrigerator overnight and the next day I have this amazing, beautiful cake!

Another weird thing about this recipe - it says it makes only 6 servings.  6!  Let me remind you that a sheet pan is approximately 12 x 17-inches.  And you roll this cake up long-wise, so you end up with a cake roll that is 17 inches long.  And I am supposed to cut that into only 6 slices?  That would make for some really large pieces, in my opinion.  I think you could easily get 10-12 servings from this cake.  Reasonable, appropriate servings that look a lot more like the photo in the book.

Would I make this cake again?  I am not sure.  It was delicious, yes, but I am not 100% sold on the cake part.  I wish I knew what texture the cake was supposed to be, because I think it would have been better if it were less moist.  That would give more contrast between the cake and the mouse, thus highlight each separate part as you chew.  The jury is out I suppose.

I learned something though...  When my inner baking voice is screaming at me, I need to listen.

Two questions for my fellow bakers:  What other fabulous uses do you suggest for my new large can of walnut oil?  And what is the texture of this cake supposed to be??   

To see what my fellow TWD bloggers thought of this cake, go to the TWD blog and click on "LYL:  Vanilla Chiffon Roll".  You'll find links to everyone's posts! 


  1. My nut hating hubby loved this! And it took a LOT of extra time in the oven...glad it wasn't just me who had this problem :)

  2. I totally thought the same thing about the serving sizes!! And yes, I baked mine longer as well. :)

  3. Your roll looks perfect!!
    I bake mine (as often) until it became golden and slightly firm, it's my "baking feeling", I did it for all my cooking... but it certain, it took longer time than recommended... my cake was moist but not too much, enough for my taste...
    Walnut oil is used most frequently in cold dishes such as salad dressings and with some vegetables.

  4. I also baked mine longer…20 min., and I thought the same thing about the serving sizes. I think the texture of this cake should be spongy. That’s what is usually used for cake rolls. All and all we loved it, but it had a lot of steps, and used a lot of equipment!! If I were to do it again, I would break it into a 2 day project. Yours is quite pretty!

  5. Yeah... I am not a hundred percent sure about the cake part either and the cake was a bit too moist for me. But yours definitely looks like the perfect slice.

  6. Great post! Very funny. (And impressive for sleep deprived!!!) And your cake looks wonderful. :) My cake was moist....it took 20 minutes to bake. (12 minutes....crazy talk)
    My testers and I loved this cake. I would like to try pistachios instead of walnuts next time. I didn't use walnut oil, just used my coconut oil (for both cake and mousse).

  7. a chiffon cake is supposed to be a bit spongy, not rubbery but definitely has spring. it should be light and a bit on the moist side from the added water. you did a great job on the cake!

  8. Your cake looks amazing. This was a moist cake, but it did need more baking than the recipe called for.
    Oh - love walnut oil for finishing. I use it for drizzling in soups (a small swirl in many thicker cream style soups is wonderful), in salad dressings. It's also nice to drizzle over cooked fish or roasted vegetables and it's so good with roasted garlic (bagna cauda - yum).

  9. First things first....your cake looks great.
    I never knew I was signing up for sleep deprivation when I had my son. After 9 months going without a single nights proper sleep, I was bawling like a baby :-).
    Totally agree about the baking time being off. If a novice baker (like me) follows the recipe she will be left with a very under baked cake.
    My cake was very moist too and yes would like to know if that is the norm. So the other comments are helpful.

  10. I am signing up with you for the Origami class :) I always question if my spatula and mixing bowl are big enough when I read "do not deflate the batter too much". The roll looks great! I have used hazelnut oil in the past mostly for salad dressings.

  11. And mine was done in 13 minutes. Perfect. And I got 8 servings from 1/2 of the cake since I immediately froze 1/2 of the cake. But it was good, wasn't it. Glad the second one worked out for you.

  12. walnut oil is awesome in salad dressings (usually I cut it with half grapeseed oil b/c it can be intense and is also expensive). or as a finishing oil...drizzle on mushroom risotto or pasta before serving. nice roll-job! your mousse makes a perfect "c"

  13. Your cake looks beautiful!! You did a wonderful job. My cake took only 16 minutes to cook, slightly moist in a good way, and spongy. I use walnut and hazelnut oils to make my vinaigrettes and sub it for other oils, where I think the nut flavor would compliment the dish.

  14. I loved your post and your slice looks beautiful. What is it about some of the recipes in this book? Some are perfect, and some are... what the heck?


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