Friday, January 3, 2014

Sassy Sweets: Vanilla-Espresso Chiffon Layer Cake

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I had a lot of ideas for what my "first" blog post should be in 2014.  As we all know, I'm pretty "authentic" on the blog.  Perhaps sometimes, too much as my mom likes to point out when I talk about her.  Sorry Mom.  I tell her it's part of being a blogger's family.  Get used to it.  John is really used to it - and he's smart, too.  He just does not read my blog that often and in that way, our relationship achieves perfect harmony.

2014 is going to be a sweet year, which means, my first post should be something sweet.  And, John being a central figure in my life deserved to have a cake for the world to see.  In fact, John is a lot like this cake.  The cake looks easy but is complex - it is easy to mess up so you have to work hard and pay attention to it.  Like a plant, or a relationship.  The vanilla and espresso combination are two of his favorite flavors and when he wanted me to make "something easy" for his big birthday, I just couldn't.  I knew if I could find the perfect recipe, he wouldn't be able to say no.

I was right.  Of course I forgot that a few years ago I made a chiffon cake that turned out, well, like a dense puck and swore I'd never make one again.  How funny the mind forgets with time.  As soon as I saw the instructions, knee deep in ingredients, I started cursing myself for my own stupidity.  Being right is hardly exciting when you're messing up a very important birthday cake.  But, it was worth a second try - it came out great!  Moist with a crumb that holds together perfectly, the cake is springy and delicious!  So if you want to start the new year off with a clean slate, a fresh start, or a burst of energy, this is for you.
Vanilla-Espresso Layer Cake (adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen)
Serves:  10-12
Chiffon Layers:
6 egg whites, room temperature
3 cups and 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
2 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature

Vanilla-Espresso Frosting:
2 tablespoons espresso powder
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Vanilla-Espresso Chiffon Layers:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray only the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.  Do NOT spray the sides.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, separate the eggs, keeping the whites and setting aside the yolks for another use.  In a separate larger bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.  In yet a third bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and espresso powder until fluffy and well-combined, about 3-5 minutes.  Add all the egg whites at once and continue to beat on a medium to high speed for an additional 3 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low.  Slowly add half the flour mixture.  When it is fully combined, pour in the buttermilk.  Then, slowly add the rest of the flour mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with few crumbs (one of my cakes had no crumb, the other had a few that held its shape very well - both were done).  Run a sharp knife around the edges of the cake pans and turn out onto racks.  Cool completely. 

Vanilla-Espresso Frosting: 
In a large bowl, combine espresso powder and milk until the espresso powder dissolves.  Beat in the butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Beat until fully well-combined and fluffy.  Frost the top of one cake generously with frosting.  Carefully top it with the second cake.  Frost the top and sides of the layer cake.  Serve immediately or store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

This is one cake that does not stand up well to time.  After 3-5 days, the cake starts to become stale and dry so it is best to make it the night before or the day you want to serve it.

Until the next time my oven is on...


  1. oh, boy--I'd be happy with a shot of the frosting!

    1. Great idea Lisa!!! John definitely wouldn't complain ;)

  2. What a beautiful cake. John is a lucky man to have someone that loves to cook love him.

  3. This looks like exactly my type of cake! Many thanks for the share, I would love to give it a try!

    1. I hope if you give it a try, you enjoy it as much as we did!

  4. Oh, this looks so good! Especially that FROSTING! Holy yum.

    Smitten with Sunday

    1. Thanks Danielle - it's one of my favorite cakes I've EVER made!


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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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