How one Korean cafe is reviving a classic-but-forgotten American dessert
In 1927, Harry Baker, an insurance agent in Los Angeles, invented the chiffon cake — a fluffy and airy dessert. It was quickly heralded as the "first new cake in 100 years," the Los Angeles Times reported. The chiffon cake became a "national sensation" after General Mills bought the recipe from Baker in 1948.
But as the years passed, the chiffon cake faded from popularity in the United States. However, today the dessert is beginning its comeback — in the form of a very Instagrammable donut, thanks to a New York City Korean bakery called Besfren.
The chiffon donut is essentially a small chiffon cake baked with a hole in the center to resemble a donut. Besfrens offers up four flavors, including salted caramel, raspberry chamomile and dark chocolate espresso, but Paul Park, the co-founder of the bakery, says that the jasmine green tea is the most popular version. Each donut is filled with a flavored pastry cream and then topped with a layer of hard icing made from either colored white chocolate or caramel.
As a kid growing up in Korea, chiffon cakes were one Park's favorite treats. While the dessert originated in America, they're now incredibly popular in Asian countries, including Japan, China and Korea, Park said. Park saw donuts as his way in to bring the sweet back to its origin country.
This instinct to feature donuts on the menu was definitely spot on. The #donuts hashtag has well over 3 million tags on Instagram and online search has skyrocketed since January 2015, according to Google Trends.
And if the photos don't prove it, the chiffon cake-turned-donut has some serious visual appeal: Hoards of customers coming in just to take photos of the dessert.
While the chiffon donuts are currently only available at Besfrens in New York City, Park and his co-founder, and best friend, Min Ree plan to open more locations. So perhaps soon, the chiffon donut will come to a city near you. Until then, you could always make a batch of these galaxy donuts if you're craving Instagram-friendly fare.