How-To: Making Chiffon Cake

Have you ever tried Chiffon cake?

It’s a very light, airy foam cake akin to Angel Food Cake that is made with flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs. (Angel Food Cake is made without oil or egg yolks.)

Chiffon cake is very versatile–you can fill it, frost it, freeze it, forget about it for a few days, and it tastes great.

I made this Chiffon cake months and months ago and realized I never posted it. I’m pretty sure it’s because I never took pictures of it plated with juicy black raspberries and whipped cream. (It’s called an addiction. That’s the only way I seem to like to eat cake…)

(picture via, Mixed-Berry Chiffon Cake with Almond Cream Cheese Frosting)

I figured this would be a good post for summer and the week of The 4th of July because this cake would be an awesome dessert to take to a party or BBQ, or to enjoy as a sweet little snack. (You could also use this cake to make trifle.)

If I were you, I’d check out the Vanilla Bean Chiffon Cake over at Fresh From The Oven. The picture alone…oh, my!


So, let’s get down to business.

The recipe I like is from The Joy of Cooking (my favorite cookbook–you should buy it!) From the basic recipe, you can add flavorings as you like to alter the cake.

Before you get started, keep these helpful hints in mind:

*All the ingredients should be at room temperature
*Use a tube pan with a removable bottom (I love my Wilton pan.)

Basic Chiffon Cake
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Makes 12-14 servings

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder (make sure it hasn’t expired)
1 tsp. salt
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Sift the dry ingredients together two times into a large bowl.

(I whisked them well because my sifter broke! You could use a sieve, too. Really, you should sift because you don’t want a lumpy batter.)

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, water, vegetable oil, lemon zest and vanilla extract on high speed until smooth.

Stir into the flour mixture until smooth. (I whisked it in.)

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Gradually add 1/4 cup granulated suger while beating on high speed.

Beat until the peaks are stiff but not dry. Use a rubber spatula to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.

My tips:

You want to use a large spatula for folding the egg whites. And this is not a “stirring” motion that you will use. The goal here is to lighten the batter with a bit of the egg whites so you don’t deflate all the air you incorporated into the beaten egg whites when you add them all to the batter.

Chiffon and Angel Food cakes rely heavily on that incorporated air to give them their light, airy texture. Simply stirring or being too hasty with the folding will ruin your lovely batter and the texture of the final cake.

To properly fold egg whites into the rest of the batter, you cut down through the middle,

turn your wrist and scrape the bottom of the bowl and come gently back to the top.

Turn the bowl a bit and repeat the process.

When all the egg whites have been added, all you should see are a few streaks of egg whites.

Fold in the remaining whites.

The batter will look sort of foamy (for lack of a better word) and light.

It’s quite a lovely batter.

Scrape the batter into the ungreased pan. (Very important: don’t grease the pan!)

Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes.

Let cool upside down for at least 1 1/2 hours, setting the tube pan over a bottle neck or resting the pan on four overturned glasses. (I used five glasses.)

To remove the cake from the pan:

Remember that you don’t grease the tube pan. This helps the cake adhere to the sides and rise up nice and tall as it bakes. Consequently, the cake will stick to the sides and bottom of the pan.

I use a long, thin icing spatula to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Because the pan has removable sides, this is pretty easy. The bottom is a bit trickier–especially if you leave the cake to cool overnight. (Don’t do that if you can help it.)

To remove the pan bottom from the cake is tricky, like I said, because you have the middle post to worry about, too. I use the same thin spatula to carefully go around the middle, being careful not to scrape the pan. For the bottom, I will sometimes switch to a serrated bread knife and saw back and forth, again careful not to scrape the pan, until I’ve gone all the way around the bottom.

The cake should slip right out. Be careful! The cake seems sturdier than it is. Treat it gingerly.

I like to place the finished cake on cake plate that has a tight-fitting cover. If you live in a humid climate, like I do, then you want to be careful to keep the air out. The cake will get sticky. And if you live in a dry climate, you want to cover the cake to keep it from drying out. See how that works?

Slicing the cake:

I find that for slicing chiffon and angel food cakes, my best friend is a long, serrated bread knife.

Some prefer this funky angel food cake cutter–

Want more recipes to try? Here are some that I think sound delicious–

Fresh Lime Chiffon Cake
Mixed-Berry Chiffon Cake with Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
Passion Fruit Chiffon Cake with Passion Fruit Mousse
Guava Chiffon Cake (very high on the list…)


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  1. We are going to try this. It looks like it takes some skill but also seems well worth it! It looks so special it should be great for celebrations – we give you a Cheers To Extraordinary Entertaining!

  2. This is a gorgeous blog! So happy to have just discovered it :D. Your tutorials are so handy and useful. I’ll definitely be back soon :). Nice meeting you!

    Flour Arrangements

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