Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lemon Chiffon Cake with Zesty Peach Icing for Food 'n' Flix - Stranger than Fiction

 We are here to fight, to think, to love, to rebel, to bake.
Signage on Ana's Bakery in Stranger than Fiction

Food 'n' Flix is a blogging event that is new to me.  I found it by accident when randomly surfing the Net a few days ago, but it grabbed my attention immediately.  Food and movies are two of my favourite things, so this event is a perfect match for me.
This month's host of Food 'n' Flix is Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, who has chosen Stranger than Fiction, starring Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, for this month's movie.  I had never heard of this movie before, but boy, am I glad that Deb chose it.  It is a pearler of a film, and features Will Ferrell in a role that I like him in.  The movie is set in Chicago, which excites me because I am going to visit there for the first time in April. 
The plot goes something like this:  Harold Crick (Ferrell) is an IRS agent who is sent to audit a bakery owned by Ana Pascal (Gyllenhaal) for unpaid taxes.  Harold begins to hear an unknown woman's voice in his head narrating his every move as if reading a novel aloud, which is disturbing enough, but Harold panics when the narrator foreshadows his imminent death.  Desperate to avoid that conclusion, Harold seeks help, first from a psychiatrist (Linda Hunt), who thinks he is schizophrenic, and then from a literary professor, Jules Hilbert (Hoffman).  Hilbert agrees to help Harold after deciding that he isn't crazy.  Together, they identify that the voice in Harold's head is the elusive author, Karen Eiffel (Thompson), who only writes novels in which the hero dies, and that Harold is the hero in her latest novel, Death and Taxes.  Harold then races against time to find Eiffel and persuade her to change the plot of her latest novel before she writes his death. 
The subplot revolves around Harold's unexpected crush on Ana, the rather hostile baker whom he is auditing.  She has deliberately not paid all of her taxes because she doesn't agree with how all of them are used.  Ana eventually warms to Harold, too, and we learn that she is a Harvard law dropout who turned to baking to change the world.
My recipe for Food 'n' Flix was inspired by the following monologue by Ana, in which she explains to Harold how she became a baker:
And anyway, we would have to participate in these study sessions, my classmates and I, sometimes all night long. And so I baked so no one would go hungry while we worked. Sometimes I'd bake all afternoon in the kitchen, in the dorm, and then I'd bring my little treats to the study groups and people loved them...  I was always looking for better and better recipes until soon it was ricotta cheese and apricot croissants and mocha bars with an almond glaze and lemon chiffon cake with zesty peach icing...
(From the script for Stranger than Fiction by Zach Helm)
"Lemon Chiffon Cake with Zesty Peach Icing" stuck in my head.  How wonderful does that sound!  Accordingly, I hit the books to look for recipes for lemon chiffon cake and zesty peach icing.
I selected the recipe for Lemon Chiffon Cake from Tartine by Elisabeth M Pruiett.  I have had this book for years and have rarely used it, so it was great to be able to put it to good use.  The zesty peach icing was harder, because I did not in fact find any recipes for it in my books or on the Net.  Instead, I took inspiration from a recipe for Peach Buttercream by Cathlin Cooks, and combined it with my favourite buttercream recipe by the Primrose Bakery.  I used peach puree in place of milk to make the buttercream, and tinted it a subtle shade of peach using red and yellow food colouring.  For the zesty part, I added the zest of about half an orange to the buttercream.  I halved the buttercream recipe because I didn't want stacks of icing left over, but on reflection, given the size of the cake, I should have used the whole recipe.  This is why my icing is a bit scant.
The resulting cake is like an enormous sponge, which tastes only faintly lemony.  For me, the highlight was the frosting, which lifted the flavour of the cake and had a distinct yet subtle peach flavour. 
To make this cake, you will need:
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup water
1/4 lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
10 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Peach Buttercream (full recipe)
110g butter
60ml peach puree (made by processing then straining about 16 slices of canned peaches)
500g icing sugar
finely grated zest of half an orange
Red and yellow gel food colouring combined to desired peach colour

To make the cake:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line the bottom and sides of a 10" round springform pan with baking paper. (Don't grease it.)

Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. Mix in 1 1/4 cups of sugar (reserving the other 1/4 cup) and the salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, pour in the oil mixture, then whisk the ingredients together until smooth.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites together until soft peaks form.  Add the cream of tartar and slowly add the reserved 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to whisk the whites until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold a third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold through the remaining egg whites.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform tin and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until cooked through. (I needed an extra ten minutes - this cake is huge!)
Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack in the tin. Run a knife around the inside edge of the cake tin to loosen the cake from the sides, then leave the cake to cool in the tin.  Don't skip the loosening step - I did, and my cake contracted from the sides of the tin as it cooled and became rather wrinkly in appearance.  Apparently leaving the cake in the tin while it cools helps it to hold its shape.

To make the icing:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, peach puree and half the icing sugar together until smooth. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. Mix in the orange zest and food colouring.
Halve the cake using a serrated knife (I did a terrible job because I was trying to rush it), and put about a third of the icing in the middle of the bottom half of the cake, and spread evenly over the surface.  Place the other half of the cake on top, then spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake.
Slice, eat and enjoy! 

I am looking to see everyone else's Food 'n' Flix creations inspired by Stranger than Fiction, which is a terrific film.

Postscript - The delicious roundup is posted here on Deb's blog.  Treat yourself and take a look!


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I'm loving the sound of that peach buttercream! I might use it on another cake! :D

Deb in Hawaii said...

What a great post and a wonderful-looking cake. That icing does sound amazing and lemon cakes are my favorite--I like the combination.

I am relly glad that you enjoyed the movie. I think that people who haven't seen it are pleasantly surprised by Will Farrell's performance in it. ;-)

Thanks so much for joining in Food 'N Flix this month. (and for being the first entry in!) ;-) I am happy you found us!



Johanna GGG said...

sounds like a great film and an intriguing cake - peach buttercream sounds just my sort of thing! never heard of the event before but I love it

Kari said...

This cake looks as wonderful as it sounded! I hadn't heard of Food N Flix either but with inspiration like this coming out of it - I'm in favour :)

2paw said...

You always find such interesting blogs! I like my lemon things to be quite lemony, but I shall be remembering your fruit puree in icing tip!! I have issues with the amount of icing to make too.

Tina said...

This looks so light and perfect for the Spring weather here. Nice for a patio coffee time event!

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Welcome to the group and I almost chose to make that cake too. Looks fantastic.

Camilla Mann said...

Welcome to Food'N'Flix! I thought about that cake as well, but went with an easier dark chocolate macadamia wedge. I'll give this a try as soon as I can get some fresh peaches.

Debra Eliotseats said...

Welcome to the group! I didn't even consider this cake because it sounded too daunting. I am so glad you posted the recipe. It looks and sounds delicious!

Cakelaw said...

I'm happy too - thanks for hosting Deb.

Cakelaw said...

Thank you!

Cakelaw said...