Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Taro / Yam Chiffon: A Series of Unfortunate Events

I haven't had a kitchen disaster in a long while, not since the time I made three swiss rolls in one afternoon, and still they didn't turn out the way I wanted them to. This time, I attempted to make a purple yam chiffon cake, after my quite successful attempt at durian chiffon, I figured this shouldn't be too difficult. I'm always amazed at how TV chefs manage to whip up 3-4 dishes within half an hour (or actually, 20 minutes). They make it look sooooo easy. I wanted to do the same and get my chiffon done in record time. After all, I only need to combine a few ingredients in a bowl for the egg yolk batter, and let the mixer do the work in whisking the egg whites. Minimal effort, or so it seemed. However, such ideal conditions are non-existent within the confined space of my little kitchen.

Here's an account of what happened:

1 minute: Print recipe.
2 minutes: Get the mixer out of the box.
2 minutes: Read the recipe carefully and get the chiffon tin out.
15 minutes: Take the frozen yam out of the freezer and attempt to thaw and separate the ice-cold and hard pieces to get the required quantity. Microwave repeatedly until yam is soft and mashable with a fork.
8 minutes: Leave yam to cool in a bowl of water while separating the egg yolks from the whites.
7 minutes: Look for plain flour. Realised I didn't have enough! Supplemented with a few tablespoons of cornflour so that it becomes cake flour instead. Sifted the flour twice.
2 minutes: Look for canned coconut milk and a can opener. Shake and open the can.
3 minutes: Weigh 2 batches of caster sugar. Look for bowl to place it in.
1 minute: Heat up the oven and remove redundant baking trays.
3 minutes: Add all ingredients including yam into the egg yolk batter.
9 minutes: Realised that the yam which had cooled down seemed a bit lumpy in the batter. So I pushed it through a sieve a few times, and squished a few lumps between my fingerse. Looks better now.
9 minutes: Wanted to add purple colouring. Mixed some blue and red food colouring but after many attempts, I just couldn't achieve that pastel lavender hue I was after. Added more blue and it started looking gray instead. In the end, I added a drop of pink food colouring. Do I really care at this point?
5 minutes: Start the mixer and whisk the egg whites. A breeze.
5 minutes: Combine egg yolk batter with egg white mixture. Pour into chiffon tin and place in oven.
30 minutes: Chiffon is baking in the oven. Top seems to have cracked but is lightly brown. I hope the middle is cooked.
5 minutes: Crack is getting bigger by the minute. Seems like a good idea to remove it from the oven. Anyway recipe says bake for 30-40 minutes.
2 minutes: Overturned the cake tin onto the table to cool.
5 minutes: The cracked top of the cake got totally dislodged and fell onto the table. That's 1/3 of the cake gone. Tasted it and the cake did not seem to be totally cooked. Felt squishy between my fingers.
1 minute: Tossed the dislodged cake-top over the rest of the cake in the tin and baked it again for another 5 minutes. 5 minutes, later, decided to throw away the top and bake whatever's left in the tin.
10 minutes: Continued baking the cake. Removed and inverted the tin onto a large plate to cool.
2 minutes: The whole cake slipped off the tin and landed flat on the plate.
30 minutes: Cake is still cooling on the plate and looks like it has shrunk to half the height I was hoping it to be.
5 minutes: Cut a slice of cake to try. Wasn't too bad, although the outer part of the cake was a little dry, but still edible.
2 hours: Tried eating more of the cake to convince myself that it's not that bad.
1 day: Still trying to convince myself that it's not that bad. And actually, it tasted pretty good. It just didn't look so pretty.