Chiffon cakes are light and spongy cakes which are made using eggs, oil, flour and sugar. In texture they are very similar to angel food cake however chiffon cakes have both the egg yolks and whites in them unlike angel food cake which only has the egg whites. I have always enjoyed eating these cakes because they are very light to eat and since spring is knocking on the door, what could be better than lemon chiffon cake. This lemon chiffon cake is little tangy, little sweet and tastes great with some fresh whipped cream. In short, it’s a perfect cake for spring!
Few facts about chiffon cakes:
– Chiffon cakes are different from the usual cakes in having less fat and they are also not very sweet.
– The cake is traditionally baked using an ungreased tube pan , the ungreased part is important as that helps the batter to cling to the sides of the pan.
– They cake needs very little baking powder because it rises mainly from the air whipped into egg whites.
And now to what all you should keep in mind about while baking chiffon cakes, a lot of it has to do with egg whites!
1. Egg whites should be whipped at room temperature. Separate the eggs when they are cold and then let the egg whites sit at room temperature for around 30-40 minutes before you whip them.
2. When whisking the egg whites, make sure the bowl is clean and free of any grease. Wash the bowl with warm soap and water before whipping the egg whites.
3. Whip the egg whites till they form “medium” peaks. When the peaks stay upright, that’s “stiff peak” but you don’t want that, you want them to hold on their own when you take out the whisk but not stay upright rather form a curl or a crooked finger.
4. Fold the egg whites carefully in the batter, if you over-fold you will deflate the egg whites resulting in a dense cake.
5. Do not add a lot of baking powder in chiffon cakes as the egg whites are more or less sufficient to raise the batter.
6. Do not grease the tube pan, the ungreased pan helps the cake to cling to the sides as it bakes.
7. Use cake flour to get the right the texture for chiffon cakes.
8. Bake the chiffon cake in tube pans as it allows the cake to bake evenly and also rise higher. Can you bake them in regular round pans? You can but the pans should be deep enough to let the batter rise.
9. Do not over-bake or under-bake the cake. The cake is done if it springs back when pressed in the center. Under-baked chiffon cake will collapse when taken out of the oven, over-baked cake will be dense and not fluffy.
10. Chiffon cakes need to be cooled up-side down in the tube pan. So, invert the pan as soon as you take the cake out of oven and leave it as it is for 1-2 hours or till it has cooled completely. Inverting the cake prevents it from collapsing.
Sounds complicated? Well it’s not, you only need to keep few things [mentioned above] in mind while baking chiffon cakes and I promise they would come out perfect. I know how annoying and confusing are these phrases – “do not over bake”, “medium peaks”, “do not over-fold”! They are confusing because there’s no fixed definition and in all honesty experience is the only way out here.
When I started baking, I would never understand these terms. I have under-baked my egg-white only cakes which then sank after coming out of the oven, I have beaten the batter too much resulting in a hard and tough cake. I have done all these mistakes but now I know where to stop, how much to beat etc. This does come with practice, so once you get your feet wet in this baking business, these terms would appear simpler and easier to understand!
This recipes makes a 10 inch cake, however I have a 7 inch tube pan at home and that’s what I have used here. I had to pour the extra batter in other pans but this batter is sufficient for a 10 inch pan.
For the cake
Cake flour: 2 cups [spooned & leveled]
Eggs: 5, separated
Baking powder: 3/4 tsp
Sugar: 1.25 cups
Lemon juice: 2/3 cup [from fresh lemons]
Lemon zest: 1.5 tbsp
Oil: 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp [I used vegetable oil]
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
1. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Separate the eggs and in a bowl beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar together.
3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar till it’s pale and creamy, around 2-3 minutes. The mixture will form a ribbon like thing when dropped in the bowl from a height.
4. Add vanilla, oil, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix.
5. Start adding the flour mixture in parts to the egg-sugar mixture.
6. Mix till the flour is well incorporated into the batter but do not over-mix.
7. Beat the egg whites till they form medium peaks. Don’t beat them too much, we are not looking for “stiff peaks” here rather “medium peaks”, which curl a bit in stead of being upright. See the picture for reference.
8. Fold the egg whites into the flour-sugar-egg mixture.
9. Fold the egg whites gently in 3 parts. Do not over-fold. The batter for the cake is now ready.
10. Pour the batter in a 10 inch ungreased tube pan and bake for 55-60 minutes at 325 degrees F. Place the pan at the lowest rack in the oven. You can tap the pan once or twice on the counter-top to get rid of any air bubbles.
11. Once baked, invert the cake immediately. Let it cool upside-down for 1-2 hours. I took a glass bowl and inverted the pan over that. [see pic for reference]
12. To remove the cake from the pan, run a spatula along with sides of the pan and also along the center core tube. The cake will have cracks on top, that’s fine.
13. To serve, turn the cake upside down so that the flat surface is on top.
14. Apply whipped cream on top and serve with some fresh fruits.
I decorated the cake with cut lemon slices and some crushed pineapple.
* Use fresh lemon juice only and not the bottled one.
* If you aren’t very fond of the tangy lemon flavor, you can probably cut down on the lemon juice a bit. Like in stead of 2/3 cup, you can use 1/2 cup and mix it with some water.
* Chiffon cakes are best made with superfine sugar, which can be made by processing granulated sugar in food processor for few seconds. I used granulated sugar but you can very well use superfine sugar, it’s just one extra step.
* The cake can be kept covered in the refrigerator for around 5 days.
* Lemon chiffon cake tastes best with fresh whipped cream, so I would strongly recommend not eating the cake without it!
Lemon Chiffon Cake
For the cake
- whipped cream
- lemon slices
- crushed pineapple [optional]
- Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
- In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs and in a bowl beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar together.
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar till it's pale and creamy, around 2-3 minutes. The mixture will form a ribbon like thing when dropped in the bowl from a height.
- Add vanilla, oil, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix.
- Start adding the flour mixture in parts to the egg-sugar mixture.
- Mix till the flour is well incorporated into the batter but do not over-mix.
- Beat the egg whites till they form medium peaks.
- Fold the egg whites into the flour-sugar-egg mixture.
- Fold the egg whites gently in 3 parts. Do not over-fold.
- Tap the pan once or twice on the counter-top to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Pour the batter in a 10 inch ungreased tube pan and bake for 55-60 minutes at 325 degrees F. Place the pan at the lowest rack in the oven.
- Once baked, invert the cake immediately. Let it cool upside-down for 1-2 hours.
- To remove the cake from the pan, run a spatula along with sides of the pan and also along the center core tube.
- To serve, turn the cake upside down so that the flat surface is on top.
- Apply whipped cream on top & serve with some fresh fruits.
Lemon Chiffon Cake