Pipe Dream #234: To Keep It PG-13 – Pumpkin Chiffon Torte with French Buttercream and Caramel

pumpkin chiffon 5

There are so many pipe dreams in this recipe, I don’t even know where to begin. I didn’t want to share this cake. Not with tha blog, not with the party-goers. And not because I’m selfish/addicted to sweets, and it was too good to share, either.

The filling of this cake (which I won’t take the trouble of sharing with you, avoid the pain) took it to over-the-top sweet, and I think it really damaged the finished product. I was, like, almost embarrassed to serve it.

And then I still ate it. Just to be sure of my real thoughts about it. Ok, whine sesh over. And also, JUST LOOK AT IT. And also, the buttercream frosting is the best best best frosting to come out of my kitchen since I tried a Swiss meringue buttercream. But I’ll come to that in  a moment.

First, let’s talk chiffon cake.

pumpkin chiffon 1

Chiffon cake is kind of like angel food cake, except instead of using egg whites, you use whole eggs. You whip the eggs whites separately and fold them into the batter, which creates a super fluffy cake. It is kind of squishy like I imagine a real live sea cucumber would be, if I poked it. It doesn’t quite give when you bite it. Idk, just go try one, you’ll see.

Traditional chiffon cakes are baked in a tube pan, kind of like a bundt pan, then flipped over onto a bottle to cool so the cake keeps its height. The sides of the pan also help the cake to rise. I saw a number of recipes for chiffon cakes in regular pans too, which is what I did with this recipe. This recipe also called for the pans to be greased (a big chiffon cake no no, as the cake will fall out of the pan once tipped). I decided to give it a shot, even if it wasn’t totally traditional.

pumpkin chiffon 4

Even though the recipe didn’t say I should flip the pans, I decided to give it a go anyway. Contrary to any story the above picture may be telling you, my cake did indeed fall out of its pan about 10 minutes after being flipped onto my MacGyvered glasses.

Luckily the layers remained intact, and I just let them cool on a wire rack. Next time I do a chiffon cake, I want to try this lemon one, which was the first recipe to turn me on to chiffon cakes and also calls for the cake to remain in the pan. Unless someone buys me a chiffon cake pan, in which case, I’ll go all traditional on yo tummies.

pumpkin chiffon 3

The buttercream variation I tried is a “French” buttercream, which uses egg yolks and a sugar syrup to create the most silky smooth buttercream. The Kitchn even goes so far to call it “sexy,” but I will refrain here, because this blog is only PG-13 on Random Tuesdays, and plus, I can’t call the buttercream that ends up in my hair/face after three solid hours in the kitchen sexy. So.

This is the first buttercream I really felt I had a handle on “fixing” after it split. If yours splits after you add the butter, try increasing your mixer speed to high for 1-3 minutes and just see if it doesn’t come back together. Worked for me.

pumpkin chiffon 2

pumpkin chiffon 6

I topped it off with a good old-fashioned jar of Smucker’s caramel topping, but you could use and caramel recipe you like for this. Or maybe melt down some Brach’s caramels with a bit of heavy cream. I would try using salted caramel if I did this again, though. The caramel really was too flippin’ much.

pumpkin chiffon 7

Keeping it real,

L

P.S. I made this before this post from SprinkleBakes came out. A Chocolate Turtle Pumpkin Torte. I was basically celebrating, because she is an amazing baker (like, actually so fabulous), and she is practically copying me. I mean, not really, but we are like-minded.

Pumpkin Chiffon Torte with French Buttercream and Caramel

Cake adapted from Wilton, Buttercream from the Kitchn

For the cake:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
4 whole eggs + 4 egg whites, divided (reserve 4 egg yolks for caramel buttercream)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8 in. round cake pans with vegetable pan spray.

In large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk pumpkin with whole eggs until well combined. Add to flour mixture and whisk until well combined.

In large bowl, whip egg whites on high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks. With mixer running, gradually add granulated sugar. Continue beating until glossy and stiff.

Fold 1/3 egg whites into pumpkin mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in remaining egg whites completely. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 28-32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Invert pans onto a cooling rack* and cool completely. When cooled, run a knife along sides of cake to release from pan.

*I tried to do the classic chiffon cake and invert the pans onto those cups like you see in the pictures. In a classic chiffon bundt, you don’t grease the pan, and you invert it onto a bottle to cool so that they keep their height. My cakes fell out of the pans eventually because I greased them. Don’t do it.

For the buttercream:

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but still slightly firm
1 1/3 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons water
10 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons bourbon or other flavoring, such as vanilla

Unwrap the butter and cut it into large pieces, about 8 per stick. Combine the sugar and water in the small saucepan and place on the stove over a medium flame. While the syrup is coming up to temperature, add the yolks and a pinch of salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until pale and thick.

When the syrup reaches 238°F, remove from heat.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl to avoid splattering the syrup on the beaters.  Stop pouring every 10 seconds or so and increase the speed to high, then switch it to low and drizzle in more syrup.  Do this until all the syrup is incorporated. After all the syrup has been incorporated, beat on high speed until the mixture has cooled to room temperature.  This can take about 10 minutes.

When the mixture and the bowl no longer feel warm, switch to the paddle attachment and start adding the butter one cube at a time, mixing well in-between each addition. At this point, the buttercream may look curdled and awful. Try increasing your mixer speed and just keep beating until it comes together (maybe 1-3 minutes). Add the bourbon and continue to beat until the buttercream is smooth and spreadable.

To assemble the cake:

Slice the two layers in half horizontally, making four layers. Use half the buttercream to fill the layers, then spread a thin crumb coat around the outside of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, then use the rest of the frosting to frost the cake fully. Refrigerate until firm. I used about 3/4 of a jar of warmed Smuckers caramel topping to decorate the cake. Warm up the jar in the microwave, but make sure your caramel isn’t too hot or it will melt the frosting. Pour the caramel on the center of the cake, spreading to the edges so it runs over the sides. Decorate with sprinkles and a pecan, if desired.

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29 Responses to “Pipe Dream #234: To Keep It PG-13 – Pumpkin Chiffon Torte with French Buttercream and Caramel”


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  1. 1 Pipe Dream #265: To Cake-cess – French-Toasted Angel Food Cake | piping dreams Trackback on April 28, 2014 at 9:02 am
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