Thursday, December 11, 2008

Umbria Day and Orange Chiffon Cake

Dec 10 from now on will be known to us as Umbria Day. That was the day my other half and I brought home Umbria, a black Labrador pup from the Guide Dog School of Switzerland at Allschwil, about 1.3 hours' drive from here. She will stay with us for 12 to 15 months and I will be her 'dogmum' or Puppy Walker.

As she has been only two days in our flat, she doesn't like being alone in the living-room. If she's snoozing (often against my foot) and I tiptoe away into the kitchen to make tea, soon enough she would pad quietly into the kitchen looking up 'smiling' at me with a few wags of her funny tapered tail. Taking her outside is no mean feat - putting on her collar and leash, making her stay seated while I put on my coat and shoes, pressing the lift buttons while carrying her in my arms (that prevents accidental peeing) and opening the heavy front door of the apartment building.

Juggling taking care of the pup's needs and my usual baking and cooking is dicey. Imagine my having to take her out to wee (she's sniffing around for a spot - red alert!) when a chiffon cake is about to be ready in the oven. Dicey doesn't even begin to describe the narrow juggling of time, activity and their coordination.

Baking and cooking will have to take a backseat for at least a couple of weeks.

Nevertheless, as Umbria is the runt of her litter, here's a mini-chiffon cake recipe which I've adjusted to suit my tastes. You can use a Gugglhupf pan or a detachable chiffon pan.

Orange Chiffon Cake

3 eggs, whites separated from yolks
1/3 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup mixture of vegetable oil and half-melted butter (more butter means more flavour while veg oil makes a lighter cake but has less flavour)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence or 1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, preferably sifted
1 tbs cornflour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
small pat of softened butter, for painting cake pan with

grated rind (avoiding white pith) of 2 oranges
3 tbs half-fat yoghurt
80ml orange juice
bits of sugared orange rind (optional; storebought)

1. Heat oven to 175 degrees C. Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar till almost stiff.
2. Whisk oil/butter with sugar for 2 minutes at medium-high speed. Add yolks and vanilla and whisk for 1 minute.
3. Mix flours with baking soda, baking powder and salt.
4. Alternate adding the flour mix, the orange juice and yoghurt. Fold grated orange rind gently in till just combined.
5. Fold whisked egg whites into the mixture carefully. Pour batter into buttered cake form. Strew orange rind bits on top (if using).
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Insert a skewer or thin knife in the middle of dough to see if it comes out clean. Invert cake pan on a wire rack so cake retains maximum height. Carefully remove cake from pan only when cool.
(This cake gives 4 servings. Double the recipe if you're making a big cake and increase time in the oven to 40-50 minutes.)


Life for Beginners said...

Lil Umbria is SOOOOO kewt! She is certainly lucky to have such a caring and attentive dogmum. :)

Will you train her to be a guide dog too, or just to help care for her till she's old enough to be trained?

Argus Lou said...

Umbria thanks you, Uncle Kenny! Basic training and socialisation starts from day one, so I'll be taking her to her weekly pup kindy soon (to play with different breeds, sizes, colours! among other lessons). Have to build up a lot of confidence and trust. And pee/poo where guide dogs do it - in the gutter between sidewalk n street! Poor thing; can u imagine a big truck zooming past your toilet?

Kak Teh said...

Umbria can be friends with our Gizmo, Kissinger, Tabby, Moaner and Snowbell. They are so used to being around dogs , like alsations belonging to our neighbour.

Your orange chiffon cake looks yummy.

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Kak Teh. There's a cat in the dog school who's supposed to socialise the dogs to cats but she only snoozes in the office, ha ha.
Five cats! Methinks Umbria might be a bit intimidated by their claws and whiskers. :)
Wow, Alsatians! Your cats are the regal kind, sounds like.

Kak Teh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Kak Teh, for the info! ^_^

Naz said...

Your blog needs a calorie counter! I'm salivating and wanting to try everything.
On my way out now to buy the ingredients for the chiffon cake :)
You are responsible!!!!!!!

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Naz. Hope your chiffon cake turns out bouncy, soft and moist. I increased the flour by 1/4 cup and just made a coffee one (80ml hot water with 2.5 tsp of instant coffee + 4 tbs yoghurt in the yolk mixture) accompanied by five cupcakes.
Increase by 1-2 tbs of sugar if you have a rather sweet tooth. :)

Salt N Turmeric said...

I love chiffon cakes but I have yet to recover from my disaster pandan chiffon cake episode! lol.

Argus Lou said...

There seems to be different kinds of chiffon cake. Do folk call them sponge cake too (sounds less glamorous, huh?)? I've a friend who is a Swiss cuisine chef and her chiffon cake is consistently fine, soft and 'stretchy' in texture. I'm so lazy I don't even sift the flour. Yikes.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

hmmm its a tough choice when you got that handsome puppy to take care of..

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Joe. Thanks. I can now bake around her nap times -- just like a new mum to a human baby, ha ha.

WokandSpoon said...

Only 12 to 15 months?? It's going to be hard to part with her!!

Argus Lou said...

Yes, Wokandspoon. We have gone in with our eyes and hearts open. We know from the outset she is likely to be destined for a responsible job. :)

gRaCe said...

Umbria is sooooooo cute!! Gosh, how i wish i can hug and play with her. but i agree with WokandSpoon... when the time comes to give her back.. it'll be hard. is there any possibility for u to meet up with Umbria again after the duration?

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Grace. Yes, it'll be hard to see her go, but if she 'graduates' as a guide dog, we'd be so proud of having brought up a great dog. When she retires after about 8 years of service, she can come back to us and spend the rest of her more-than-well-earned retirement in the lap of love and 'luxury'. :)

anw4ever99 said...

i try out ur Spanish Omelette, not bad very nice.

Argus Lou said...

Anw, thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoyed your Spanish omelette.

My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)