Wow! I sure did have a tough time gathering some of the ingredients for this recipe. First off, no stores offered whole vanilla beans. I enlisted my friend to purchase some for me at Whole Foods. She lives by the one in Pasadena, but it is an hour from my house. Luckily, I met up with her last weekend, to go and see the Reagan Library, so I was able to pick them up from her. I got two jars... for $20! That is ridiculous! That is only 4 beans! Outrageous!
The next items on my list that I needed to find, were matzo cake meal and potato starch. Stater Brothers generally offers a great selection of 'Bob's Red Mill' products and I thought for sure, that I would be able to find potato starch there. I was wrong! Also, they did not have matzo cake meal. Regular matzo meal, sure, but not cake meal.
I travelled to a health food store a town over, called Clark's. My mom used to take me and my brother there, when we were kids and she was on a tofu kick. Thank goodness it didn't last more than a year! I will never eat tofu again. Tofu roll-ups, tofu ice cream, tofu this, tofu that. I digress.
Clark's had potato starch and every other Bob's Red Mill product that I could ever ask for. They also had the very same vanilla beans that I got, for $8.50! You live and you learn. They however did not have any matzo cake meal.
Due to the fact that I needed this product, I finally had a brilliant idea... beyond trying to purchase it online, from Manischewitz. I contacted Bon Appetit over Facebook and asked them about it. They were quite prompt with their response and said that regular matzo meal would do just fine. Phew! I do know that matzo cake meal is a bit finer than the regular meal, so for this recipe, I blended up the regular meal a bit, before using it.
For your sake, I hope you live near a Jewish market and a health food store!
I have come to the conclusion, that this endeavor is going to be a pretty costly one and that I will have a very well stocked bar cart, by the end of this Bon Appetit process. I have never had alcohol in my house before, and now, I have Brandy, Bailey's, Rum, Reisling... I will soon be needing Amaretto, and Gran Marnier.
Would you care for a drink?
So, here it is!
Vanilla Chiffon Cake
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup matzo cake meal
1/2 cup potato starch
1-1/2 vanilla beans, chopped
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
7 large eggs, separated, room temperature
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons brandy
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Blend 1/2 cup sugar, matzo cake meal, potato starch, vanilla beans, and coarse salt in processor until beans are finely chopped. Sift mixture into small bowl; discard beans in sieve.**
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until medium-firm peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Using same beaters, beat egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in another bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in oil, then brandy. Beat in matzo mixture. Fold in egg white mixture in additions.
Transfer to un-greased 10-inch-diameter angel food cake pan with removable bottom. Bake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 37 minutes. Immediately invert center tube of pan over neck of narrow bottle and cool cake completely.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover cake in pan.
Using sharp knife, cut around sides of pan and center tube to loosen cake. Holding center tube, lift cake from sides. Cut cake free from pan bottom. Turn cake onto plate, Using serrated knife, cut cake into wedges.
**Do not waste time blending the matzo meal, potato starch, etc. My vanilla beans did not chop up. So, I suggest that you just split your beans and scrape out all of the vanilla and then mix that in with the matzo mixture. A good old whisk will do the trick. Do sift afterward, though.**
I had to use an old school hand beater for the egg yolks and let us just say that I got quite the work out! This cake comes together in no time at all. It also has an extremely short bake time. The result? A cake that is as light as air! In fact, I am changing the name to 'Light as Air Cake'. Have fun baking!