The chaja cake: A dessert with an exquisite appearance and a weird name that traces its origins to the city of Paysandú, Uruguay. A cake whose recipe remains secret since the 1920s and is well-known for its harmonious blend of sweetness and subtlety.
Perfect for birthdays and any other celebration, the chaja cake is simply as light as mouth-watering. Would you like to explore its history, composition, ways to replicate it at home, and the sheer joy it brings in each mouthful? Keep reading!
Discovering the Chajá Cake and Its Origins
The chaja cake, also referred to as chajá dessert, is made with sponge cake, meringue, cream, and peaches. There are some variations of this cake that include dulce de leche and even chocolate.
The origin of chaja cake can be found in the heart of Uruguay’s cuisine. This is a traditional Uruguayan dessert created in 1927 by the owner of the pastry shop “Las Familias” in the city of Paysandú. The recipe for this cake remains secret since then, as it’s not known how it is made exactly.
Named after the “Chajá”, a bird native to South America, the chaja cake is exported to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and the United States.
Exploring the Layers of Deliciousness in Chajá Cake
Sponge Cake: It’s the base of the cake, made with eggs, sugar, butter, and flour. Its light and airy texture provides a balance between softness and structure.
Meringue: It’s a layer of sweetened egg whites baked until they’re crisp on the outside and chewy within. It is often crumbled and used as a topping for the cake.
Peaches: A layer of fresh or canned peaches on top of the meringue. They infuse the chaja cake with natural juiciness, enhancing its flavor profile and adding color at the same time.
Cream frosting: A whipped cream frosting crowns the cake adding its airy lightness.
Dulce de leche: A dulce de leche filling is often included to add more sweetness. It consists of a layer of sweetened condensed milk that is caramelized and spread on top of the peaches.
The Perfect Balance of Flavors: Sweetness and Lightness in Every Bite
To achieve the ideal balance of flavors in a dessert is essential because it can make or break the dish. The chaja cake does this by successfully combinating sweetness and lightness.
The flavorful sponge cake with its tender crumb nicely matches the delicate meringue sweetness. The latter’s feather-light texture, in turn, harmoniously combines with the caramelized peaches that introduce a burst of fruity succulence.
Chaja cake versions that include dulce de leche also highlight the contrast of the creamy dulce de leche filling to the cake’s lighter elements.
Every dessert needs to have its flavors and textures perfectly balanced to show its characteristics properly, and clearly the chaja cake is a great example of this.
Chaja Cake Variations: Putting a Unique Twist on a Classic Dessert
While the classic chajá cake is perfect as it is, there are also some intriguing variations that are definitely worthwhile to try:
Chocolate Chaja Cake
In this variation, we have chocolate sponge cake instead of the traditional vanilla. The only difference between the classic chaja cake recipe and the chocolate version is the addition of cocoa powder to the batter (the other ingredients and steps are the same).
The addition of cocoa powder gives the cake a richer flavor and may make it more visually appealing.
Fruit-Infused Chaja Cake
Fruit-infused chaja cake is a variation that uses different fruits in the filling. The most common fruits used are strawberries and pineapple, but any other fruit can be added.
The preparation is the same as in the traditional chaja cake recipe, but, instead of using peaches in the filling, other fruit/fruits are included.
Nutty Chaja Cake
The nutty chaja cake variations are wonderful if you want a crunchier dessert. This version adds nuts to the filling. The most used nuts are almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans. They can also be spread on the top of the cake.
Where to Find the Best Chaja Cake and How to Make It at Home?
bakeries that offer chaja cake, homemade chajá recipe tips and tricks, sabores del plata, atlanta
If you want to truly experience the magic of the chaja cake, you have to find specialized places that know how to properly make it. The bakeries that offer chaja cake usually are the ones that specialize in delicacies from around the world.
If you are in Atlanta, Sabores del Plata offers typical dishes from Argentina and Uruguay, including an absolutely delicious chaja cake.
And if you’d like to prepare the cake in your own kitchen, try this recipe:
- For the sponge cake:
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For the filling:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup meringue cookies, crushed
- 1 (15-ounce) can peaches, drained and sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a cake pan.
- In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the butter and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the batter, mixing until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- To prepare the filling, beat together the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the crushed meringue cookies.
- Once the sponge cake is cooled, slice it horizontally in half. Place one half in the bottom of a serving dish. Spread with half of the filling, then top with the sliced peaches. Spread the remaining filling over the peaches, and top with the other half of the cake.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- You can decorate with caramelized almonds, peach slices, or a drizzle of dulce de leche.
Also, we’ll give you a few homemade chaja recipe tips and tricks to ensure your cake is superb:
- Try to use fresh peaches for the best flavor.
- Be careful not to overbeat the batter, or the cake will be tough.
- On the other hand, make sure to beat the cream enough to prevent it from running down the sides of the cake.
- Let the cake cool completely before assembling it, or the filling will melt.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
A Slice of Heaven on Your Plate: Indulge in the Delightful Chaja Cake Experience!
Picture this: a morsel that melts in your mouth, the airy sponge cake encountering the subtle crunch of meringue, the light cream, and the juicy peaches. Definitely, everyone should enjoy a moment of pure bliss with an exquisite chaja cake.
If you are in Atlanta, we invite you to visit Sabores del Plata and relish our lovingly made chajá cake. And if you happen to be in Uruguay, you can visit “Las Familias” and enjoy the chaja cake in its birthplace!