Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cake combines the cloudlike texture of angel food cake with a tender richness provided by egg yolks and oil. It can be flavored with citrus, chocolate, vanilla, or any flavoring you chose. It's usually served with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar or whipped cream; heavier buttercream frostings tend to weigh it down. 

Chiffon cakes may be baked either in tube (angel food) pans, or in 9" round cake pans. Like an angel food cake, they must be cooled upside down to maintain their full height. This recipe makes a large cake, enough for 16 to 20 slices. It also freezes well, and is a good base for any filled cake that's served cold, because the use of oil lets it retain its soft texture in the fridge.

Prep
20 mins
Bake
50 mins to 1 hr
Total
1 hr 20 mins
Yield
one 10" tube cake or two 9" round cakes
Chiffon Cake

Instructions

  1. To make the cake: Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Have on hand an ungreased 10" tube or angel food cake pan. If you're using two 9" round ungreased cake pans, place the oven's rack in the center.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup (99g) of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup (198g) sugar with the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  4. In a large mixing bowl using a whisk attachment, beat the oil, reserved egg yolks, and extracts until pale yellow. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk, beating at medium speed for 2 to 4 minutes.

  5. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites with a whisk just until the batter is uniform. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is evenly mixed.

  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 10 minutes more, until a gentle touch on the center of the cake leaves no indent; if you listen carefully, the cake should make a crackling sound. For round pans, bake for 40 minutes at 325°F, then 10 minutes more at 350°F. 

  7. Remove from the oven and invert the tube pan over the neck of a wine bottle for 30 minutes. For round pans, place them upside down on a rack to cool. After 30 minutes, use a thin-bladed flexible spatula to free the cake from the sides and tube of the pan. Turn the cake out onto a serving plate to finish cooling completely.

  8. To make the Chantilly cream: Place all the ingredients in a large, chilled mixing bowl. Beat until the mixture holds soft peaks. Spread over the cooled cake.

  9. Cake layers, well-wrapped, will keep for two days at room temperature, and frozen for up to three months. Decorated cakes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days, or frozen for up to three months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Separate the eggs carefully; even a small amount of yolk in the whites will prevent them from beating up properly. The eggs separate easiest when cold, but allow them to come to room temperature before mixing, for best volume in the egg whites.
  • Don't open the oven during the first 45 minutes of baking; the cake will rise high above the pan, then settle back almost even as it continues to bake.

  • When cutting the cake, you'll need to dip a serrated knife in hot water between each slice if you want smooth, even pieces.
  • To make lemon chiffon cake: Use lemon extract instead of vanilla extract and almond flavoring, and add 2 tablespoons grated lemon rind. Or substitute 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil for the extract and rind.

  • To make chiffon cake with Chocolate Cream Filling: Use a tube pan, not round cake pans. Cut a 1" slice off the top of the baked cake, and reserve it. Slice a 3" deep tunnel out of the middle of the cake, leaving 1" walls on each side. Fill the tunnel with chocolate filling, then place the top back on the cake and refrigerate it until ready to frost.

  • To make chocolate chiffon cake: Decrease the flour in the recipe to 1 3/4 cups (210g), and mix in 1/3 cup (28g) Dutch-process cocoa. Also, use buttermilk for the liquid if you have it; it'll give you the most intense chocolate flavor.