Ode To Air And It’s Entrapment In Protein Structures

Where would we be without pockets of air?
Why, we wouldn’t be anywhere.

Life as we know it, would not be the same:
Alveoli for respiration, awfully important for moments of strife.

Spaces between chloroplasts, if you want to make sugars.
The mastoid antrum, for resonance and vocal graces.

Wee little chicks need air in their shell.
Most important is leavening, I proclaim to thee

Faking I am not, for without it you see,
No fun would I have, no texture in my baking.

If you couldn’t tell by my sick rhyme this recipe is celebrating air pockets and their importance in life. You may be wondering wtf I am talking about, well that’s kinda the point hopefully I have tickled your curiosity enough that you will enquire as to what a mastoid antrum is or how air pockets between chloropasts play a part in photosynthesis.

2 ¼ cup pastry flour, sifted
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
7 large eggs, separated
¾ cup water
1.5 tsp coconut extract
3 egg whites
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
500ml Heavy Cream
500g Dark Chocolate
Mango Saffron Compote
4 cups frozen chopped mango
4tbs honey
1tsp Saffron
1tsp salt
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup riesling
1/2 cup water
2.5 sheets of gelatin
1 tsp rose water
2tbs honey
2tsp finely chopped rose pedals
1.5 sheets gelatin
60ml riesling
180ml water
3tbs honey
1tbs rose water
1tsp salt
250ml unsweetened coconut milk
Any who……on with the show.
This recipe shows the importance of air cells in baking, they are necessary to have a spongy fine texture in chiffon cake or a light coconut foam that will melt on your palate.
We will begin with the chiffon cake. Preheat oven to 325° F. In a large bowl, combine flour, all but 2 tbsp of sugar, coconut, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre and add oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and coconut extract. Beat until smooth with hand mixer. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the ten egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Beat in 2 Tbsp remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Using hands gently fold a third egg whites into batter “Bring hands down the sides of the bowl, scraping the bottom bring your hands up through the center of the batter, open your fingers to allow batter to fall between”, then fold in remaining two thirds. Pour batter into an ungreased flat 18″ x 13″ sheet pan with parchment in the bottom of the pan “can use a 10″ round pan instead”. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched “do not open oven door until at least 20 minutes have passed”. Invert pan and cool for 1 1/2 hours. Loosen sides with a long metal spatula and remove core of pan.
For the filling take the frozen mangoes place them in a sauce pot with the water, honey, salt, and saffron bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the compote until the mangoes have broken down a little and the mixture has thickened to a thick almost jam like consistency. Cool in the fridge uncovered until assembly.
For the ganache heat up your cream in a pan and poor over your chopped dark chocolate. Allow to sit and let the chocolate melt, once most of the chocolate is melted begin gently stirring it, working around the outside of the bowl and making your way towards the center until you have a smooth ganache. Let the ganache sit and cool at room temp until you’re ready to assemble the cake. For best results it should be as viscous as a good smoothy “that is to say not as viscous as heavy cream or yoghurt but somewhere between the two”.
For the rose gelee, soften the sheet gelatin in cold water and heat up the water, rose water, rose pedals, and honey in a pot until simmering. Poor the riesling wine into flat ceramic or glass bake ware “the size matters not you are going to take a fork to it shortly”. Remove the pot from the heat, squeeze the water out of the gelatin sheets and dissolve them in the rose mixture. As soon as they are dissolved slowly poor the mixture into the wine while stirring, give the mixture a good stir to make sure the gelatin is incorporated. Kiss… “yes kiss it, gently and timidly; yet passionately, with the force of a thousand alien sun’s, like you would a lover for the first time” the gelee mixture with a torch to pop the air bubbles and place in the fridge to set up.
The final component will be the coconut foam, fallow the same procedure as you did for the gelee; soften the gelatin, heat the coconut milk, salt, honey, and rose water, dissolve the gelatin, and slowly add it to the wine and water. Poor the mixture into your co2 whip cream dispenser, screw on the lid and charge it with a co2 cannister, give it a few shakes and remove the now empty cannister, place another co2 cannister in and refrigerate until needed. If you do not have a whip cream dispenser you can make a whipped coconut cream topping by refrigerating the can of coconut milk, your mixing bowl, and whip overnight. Add a little rose water and honey and whip on high speed until fluffy.
Now to assemble everything. Cut a thin layer off of the top of the cake so that it is as flat as possible, cut the cake into three equal sized rectangles. Place the cake on a cutting board or something you can cut on and begin layering cake with the mango compote. Once you have three layers of cake cut it into whatever size portions you would like, place them onto a cooling rack with a pan underneath. Poor the ganache over the cakes so that it drips down the sides but does not cover them. Use a fork to break up the rose gelee, carefully lift the cakes using a spatula onto a plate. Garnish with the rose gelee and coconut foam; and there you have it the beauty of air encompassed by protein structures, exemplified by baking.

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