Happy Sunday! It snowed about a million inches here on Friday, and after shoveling the driveway and taking the kids to the sledding “hill” down the street, I was ready for a slice of this chiffon cake. We all came in from the cold and ate it while looking out our back windows as the snow just kept on falling. It was magical.
If you’ve never had chiffon cake before, go remedy that situation right now. It’s light as a feather, has an unbelievably airy crumb, and bakes up about a mile high. The secret ingredients are whipped egg whites and vegetable oil, which help this cake rise to gravity-defying heights and melt in your mouth. This version has a hint of lemon to brighten it up, and makes a slice of this cake perfect alone or with any combination of fruit/whipped cream/glaze that you can imagine.
This recipe, like most of my Sunday posts, is from my grandmother’s The Anniversary Slovak-American Cookbook. There’s a small section devoted to chiffon cakes, and I was excited to try my hand at this classic 1950’s American recipe. I made one small change to the recipe, which called for the batter to be placed in an ungreased tube pan. I did try this once, but found that the cake stuck pretty hopelessly to the pan. On the second try I generously buttered the pan, and after using a knife to gently cut around the sides of the pan, it came out relatively cleanly. As you can see from this picture, it isn’t perfect, but I think with the height and lovely golden color, it’s still a pretty impressive looking cake.
Once the cake was cool and out of the pan, I decided to make a simple lemon glaze to drizzle over it. I thought it would give a little boost to the lemon flavor of the cake itself, and that it would look pretty (and hide any uneven spots on the exterior). The cake itself is good enough to eat unadorned, but it would also pair well with any sliced fruit you have on hand or even whipped cream. This is one of those classic recipes that I’m going to be adapting into all kinds of other cakes in the near future.
A note on the recipe: when it’s time to cool the cake, you need to flip the pan over but make sure that the cake is elevated. Many tube pans come with little handles that do this for you, but if yours doesn’t (mine is a really old one), you can use my hack and place the middle of the tube pan on a soda can.
- 2¼ cups cake flour
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup salad oil
- ¾ cup water
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and butter a 10" tube pan.
- Stir together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, egg yolks, water, lemon extract, and vanilla extract. Mix with a fork until smooth.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until the whites form very stiff peaks.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture gradually over the whipped egg whites, folding with a rubber spatula just until no white streaks remain.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tube pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 1 hour.
- When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately flip it upside down. Balance the inner tube of the tube pan on a soda can (or another heat-proof bottle or funnel) and allow the cake to cool completely while upside down.
- Once the cake is cool, flip the pan over and run a sharp knife around the sides and insides of the pan, then gently flip the cake out of the pan.