I’m back! I was planning to get the “Mini Apple Cake Bake-off” post up before Thanksgiving, but who knew my little bakeshop actually SOLD OUT for Thanksgiving and also went full capacity on Christmas?!!! Oh well, now the holiday rush was over so I finally got time to write down what I’ve learned so far from opening an online bakery. I’m also gonna share the recipe for this London Fog Chiffon Cake, which both Mr.186 and I think it might be the best cake I’ve ever made!
Back in October, several weeks after I opened Good Day Baking Co., I made a London Fog Angel Food Cake and posted it on Instagram story. I made it mainly because Mr.186 was craving his favorite London Fog Cake from Deep Sea Sugar and Salt, one of the best Seattle cake shops, and DSS&S wouldn’t open until 4 days later. But another secret reason was I had almost 0 business at that time and I needed to bake something to distract myself.
Of course, I didn’t expect my little bakeshop would be a hit and had business from day 1, but I didn’t expect getting the news out would be so difficult either. Good Day Baking Co. is a cottage food business, and I’m only doing pickups only for now, so I thought most of my customers would be local neighbors. I post about the opening on Nextdoor, which I have never used before but was recommended by a neighbor (she told me it’s the best place to spread the word locally). I remembered I was so nervous but excited to hit the post button, to finally let the world see my carefully designed website, to welcome my first customer.
I received some warm welcomes and my first order. I was over the top happy. 30 minutes later from posting, my post got deleted by Nextdoor community lead. She said it violated the community rule that you can’t promote your business. So my post got removed and left several confusing neighbors messaged me they couldn’t find my post/link to my bakeshop. After many other attempts (including paid promotions) on Nextdoor, now I can assure you it’s not small business-friendly and not the place to promote your new business to your neighbors.
Eventually, I figured out other ways to spread the words. It would be easier if there’s no Covid and I can just attend a farmer’s market. I saw other new online bakeshops were still doing pop-ups, but for everyone’s safety, I didn’t go to that route. So I tried every marketing strategy I could think of online. For me, the breaking point was local Facebook groups. I know. I wouldn’t imagine that either. For many reasons, I’m not a FB user for years and I do not know there are so many groups existed. I was lucky that I found some good local ones and received support from neighbors in the community.
After that, it’s pretty much all about word of mouth (and of course you gotta have amazing products!). However, even I had a fully booked holiday season and worked my butt off, I have to tell you bakery by its nature is not a very profitable business. The amount of work, time, and energy you put in will almost never be worth it (money wise). Good Day Baking Co. is still far from making a profit (permit & license fees! Packaging! Insurance! Good ingredients! Etc, etc etc…), but I’ve made several donations to Food Lifeline and No Hungry Kids, which is the reason why I open Good Day Baking Co. in the first place and makes me so happy and fulfilled.
With that all being said, small businesses, especially your local restaurants and bakeries need your support right now. I really admire Charlie, the owner of Deep Sea Sugar and Salt, for deciding to close her cake shop for the entire January (and for making so many fantastic cake flavors of course). I’m happy for her that her shop is popular and must have a strong enough financial status, but it’s still mind-blowing to me at first (and definitely against everything I learned from business school lol). I hope one day I can be as confident and strong as Charlie, and lead my future baking team and business to success.
Enough about business! Sorry it’s getting too long. Let’s talk about this London Fog Chiffon Cake! Like I said, it’s inspired by Deep Sea Sugar and Salt’s popular The London Fog, which consists of “Earl Grey Cake – Honey and Earl Grey Syrup – Bergamot Mascarpone Cream – Cream Cheese Frosting”. In my first attempt making it, I used earl grey angel food cake as the base (this recipe and simply add a bag of earl grey tea to the batter), cut into 3 equal slices, filled with two layers of earl grey infused Mascarpone cream and topping with cream cheese frosting.
Mr.186 thought the flavor was very close but he still preferred DSS&S’s original one. He’s like any average guy who likes desserts – he knows what he likes and doesn’t but cannot distinguish the details. So I had to ask him another 38270985 questions to finally get to the bottom – he thought there’s too much earl grey Mascarpone cream, which tasted great but could easily be too heavy after several bites, too little cream cheese, and the cake’s texture is a bit too light.
So I changed to this Earl Grey Chiffon Cake as my base. It still has the airy and soft texture I preferred to most butter based American cakes, but taller and has a greater crumb than angel food cake. Also because of how moist and soft the chiffon cake is, I skipped the soak. I still cut it into 3 slices but filled it with only 1 layer of Earl Grey Infused Mascarpone Cream, and 1 layer of cream cheese frosting. Finally, I topped it with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting. Ta-da. Meet my finest cake I’ve baked so far.
If you’re a fan of chiffon cakes, I highly highly recommend buying this 17cm/7inch chiffon cake pan. This is my most used cake pan in 2020. I’ve made so many angel food cakes, chiffon cakes, tube cakes, and Bundt cakes (half the recipe for a 10 cup Bundt cake) in this pan. Because of its shape and it’s not non-stick, meringue-based cakes like angel food cakes or chiffon cakes can climb higher and have a much better texture. You still can use a regular cake pan to make chiffon cakes, but a not non-stick and tall cake pan is preferred.
If you read this far, thank you for sticking around.❤️ I wish I can serve you a piece of this seriously amazing London Fog Chiffon Cake. You know I’m a hard critic of my own baked goods, so this truly might be the best cake I’ve ever made. I hope you can give it a try! Stay safe and happy baking!
London Fog Chiffon Cake
Earl Grey Chiffon Cake:
1. 2 earl grey tea bags
2. 90ml (6 tbsp) hot water
3. 3 large eggs
4. 85g (½ cup minus 1 tbsp) granulated sugar
5. 40ml (3 tbsp) neutral-flavored oil
6. 75g (loosely packed ⅔ cup) cake flour
7. 1 tsp baking powder
Earl Grey Infused Mascarpone Cream:
1. 1 earl grey tea bag
2. 90ml (⅓ cup + 1tbsp) heavy cream
3. 57g (¼ cup) mascarpone cheese
Cream Cheese Frosting
1. 226g (1 brick) cream cheese, at room temperature
2. 112g (1 cup) confectioner’s sugar
3. 1 tsp vanilla paste
4. 4-6 tbsp heavy cream
Earl Grey Chiffon Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 340ºF. You will need a 17cm (7″) chiffon cake pan. (Do not use non-stick bakeware for chiffon cake – it will not work). Do not grease the mold because the cake needs to cling on the sides and center of the pan for support as it rises or it will collapse.
2. Pour 6 tbsp (90 ml) of hot water into a measuring cup/bowl and use one earl grey tea bag to seep strong tea. After cooling down, remove the tea bag and use ONLY 4 tbsp (60 ml) Earl Grey tea and set aside.
3. Separate 3 eggs into whites and yolks. In a large bowl, whisk 3 egg yolks and roughly ⅓ of the 85 g sugar. Add 3 tbsp vegetable oil, 4 tbsp tea, and whisk all together until combined. Tear the other earl grey tea bag and add all of the tea leaves in the egg mixture and mix well.
4. Sift 75 g cake flour and 1 tsp baking powder into the egg mixture. Whisk until totally incorporated and make sure there are no lumps.
5. Using a stand mixer (make sure there is no trace of water or oil), whip the egg whites on medium-low sped (speed 4) till opaque, foamy and bubbly. Add ⅓ of the remaining sugar and continue whipping. After 30 seconds or so, increase the stand mixer speed to high (speed 10) and add the remaining sugar slowly in small increments. It takes about 2-3 minutes until stiff peaks form. To check on stiff peaks, pull up your whisk and see if the egg whites go straight up (stiff peak) and just the tip is soft enough that it folds over, like taking a bow.
6. Using a spatula, fold in ⅓ of the egg whites to the batter until the mixture is homogeneous.
7. Fold in the rest of egg whites in 2-3 increments and mix gently until the mixture is homogeneous.
8. Pour the batter into the ungreased 17 cm (7”) chiffon cake pan. To remove air pockets before baking, run a skewer (chopstick, knife or spatula) through the batter and then drop the cake pan gently a few times.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed. In the meanwhile, make the mascarpone cream and cream cheese frosting.
10. The cake must be cooled upside down in its pan so that it stretches down instead of collapsing. Stick the cake pan on a tall wine bottle. Let it cool completely. After it’s cooled, run a thin sharp knife or offset spatula around both the outer and inner edge of the cake and then tap the cake out onto a serving plate. Cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal slices.
Earl Grey Infused Mascarpone Cream
1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream and 1 earl grey tea bag to a boil and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes, squeeze all the liquid out from the tea bag and discard it. Pour the cream into a cup and chill it in the fridge.
2. When the cream is completely cooled, use an electric mixer or a stand mixer to whip the mascarpone cheese first until smooth. Then add all the heavy cream and mix again until it reaches a soft stiff peak. Set aside.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese with a whisk until it’s light and fluffy. Add the confectioner’s sugar, 4tbsp heavy cream, and vanilla paste; mix to combine. The glaze should be thick but spreadable. If too think, add more cream 1 tbsp at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
1. Put the bottom layer of chiffon cake on a cake turntable or a serving plate, and spread 1/3 of the cream cheese frosting with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and spread all of the mascarpone cream with the same spatula. Top with the last layer of cake and frost the cake with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting first to create a crumb coat. Chill for 10 minutes and frost the cake with remaining cream cheese frosting.
OBSERVATIONS & NOTES:
1. As I said in the post, I highly highly recommend buying a 17cm/7inch chiffon cake pan. Because of its shape and it’s not non-stick, meringue-based cakes like angel food cakes or chiffon cakes can climb higher and have a much better texture. You still can use a regular cake pan to make chiffon cakes, but a not non-stick and tall cake pan is preferred.
2. I like the simple look of how this cake turned out so I didn’t do any decorations. You can certainly add any decorations you like! Or you can choose not to smooth out the frosting at all and make a rustic looking, less fussy (but super tasty) cake too!