I have a particular fondness for chiffon cake. Not only does it look impressive under a glass cake cover, it is also the perfect way to show off a jar of home-canned berries or a favorite fruit syrup in the dead of winter, when a little splash of color goes a long way.
This particular recipe became a family favorite when we first discovered it in the Cook’s Country magazine, and stumbling across it cataloged in The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook was a find worth rejoicing over! The entire book is stuffed with recipes that will blow your dinner-table audience away like leaves from a sidewalk in November. Color photographs, a particular favorite of mine for cookbooks, accompany every single recipe, unfortunately making it all the more impossible to decide which one looks the best for dinner.
The only difficulty in this particular recipe is that once you prepare it, you can never go back to store-bought angel food cake. Comparing the voluminous, delicate form of this homemade chiffon cake to the plasticky, stiff, rubber structures of a store-bought so-called cake is a no-contest feat. Don’t make this recipe once unless you are prepared to make it again!
To achieve that climbing, towering magnificence of delight, be sure to let the baked cake cool, inverted, for at least three hours as the instructions state. If you remove the cake from the pan too soon, or allow it to cool without inverting, the fragile, hot structure will deflate and your airy, billowy chiffon cake with be a stumpy, squat pancake! If your tube pan does not have “feet” protruding from the top edge, you can invert the pan over a wine bottle to allow air to flow across the top of the cake as it cools.
Serves 10 to 12
Separate the eggs when they’re cold; it’s easier. You will need a 16-cup tube pan with a removable bottom for this recipe. If your pan has “feet” that rise above the top edge of the pan, let the cake cool upside down; otherwise, invert the tube pan over a large metal kitchen funnel or the neck of a sturdy bottle.
5 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1-1/2 cups (10-1/2 ounces) sugar
1-1/2 cups (5-1/3 ounces) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until just stiff and glossy, about 1 minute; set aside.
Combine flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Whisk water, oil, egg yolks and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Whisk wet mixture into flour mixture until smooth. Whisk one-third whipped egg whites into batter, then gently fold in remaining whites, 1 scoop at a time, until well combined. Scrape mixture into 16-cup ungreased tube pan.
Bake until skewer inserted into center comes out clean and racks in cake appear, 55 minutes to 1 hour, 5 minutes. Let cool, inverted, to room temperature, about 3 hours. To unmold, turn pan right side up and run flexible knife around tube and outer edge. Use tube to pull cake out of pan and set it on inverted baking pan. Cut bottom free. Invert cake onto serving plate and gently twist tube to remove. Serve.
Orange Chiffon Cake
Reduce total sugar to 1-1/4 cups. Replace water with ¾ cup orange juice and add 1 tablespoon grated orange zest along with vanilla in step 2. For glaze, whisk 3 tablespoons orange juice, 2 tablespoons softened cream cheese, and ½ teaspoon grated orange zest in medium bowl until smooth. Add 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Pour glaze over cooled cake. Let glaze set for 15 minutes. Serve.
Tip: Like angel food cake, chiffon cake is baked in an ungreased pan. Why? The stiffly beaten egg whites need to cling to the pan to rise. If the pan were greased, they couldn’t.
READ Andrea’s review of The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook.
Andrea Huehnerhoff has been churning up messes in the kitchen since a very young age. Chasing down fine food from coast to coast with her Navy husband and their chubby new baby, she writes about her peculiar adventures in the kitchen, on the road and sometimes on the side of the road, at Dotal Anecdotes: Life as a Wife. Always on the prowl for a good read, she is the editor for a bloghosting short story and poetry submissions called In Short, Stories, and a reviewer for City Book Review.