Last Saturday I needed to come up with a lemon, lactose-free birthday cake and I remembered that chiffon cakes were made using oil – so I called Mom. This recipe is one that she’s used countless times – usually for an orange version – and it’s directly from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook (1961) – so great! Mom either topped them with a simple glaze (orange juice or lemonade from concentrate and icing sugar), or used whipped cream (icing the cake at the last minute) and dressing it with zest or something pretty.
So Saturday we were out (with a Lemon Chiffon Cake), Sunday we had friends over for lasagna and Caesar Salad, Monday was Steak and Guinness Pie from the freezer which I added a puff pastry crust to, and served with peas, and then Tuesday was leftovers. Today everyone had a huge lunch so we’re dining on beans and toast and cut up raw vegetables and I think tomorrow will be a BLT (and cheese) after swimming. But try the cake, chiffons are beautiful and not nearly as difficult as they look.
Lemon (or Orange) Chiffon Cake
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 c. canola oil
7 egg yolks – unbeaten
3/4 c. cold water
2 t. vanilla
2 T. lemon zest (I used the zest from 2 large lemons)
1 c. egg whites (I needed 8 whites)
1/2 t. cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 325 and DO NOT grease your 10 inch tube pan, just have it ready. A good tip from Betty was to separate the eggs while they’re cold and then let the whites come to room temperature, this will give the best volume.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and then make a well in the middle. Add, in order, the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and zest and then use a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to beat it all together by hand. Separately, in your electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form very stiff peaks – do NOT under beat. A spatula should leave a clean line.
When the egg whites are ready, carefully and slowly pour the egg yolk mixture over the entire surface of the egg whites, cutting and gently folding the batter together with a spatula. Continue to fold gently, making sure to rotate the bowl, until it’s completely blended and then pour the batter into your ungreased pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 55 minutes at 325 and then turn the heat up to 350 and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. The surface will be cracked, the cake should be busting out of the pan and the top should bounce right back when lightly touched. Don’t let anyone run or jump around your house when this is baking!
Immediately invert the cake so that the center bit is balanced on a funnel and the whole cake is hanging upside down but not touching anything but the funnel – it needs to stay this way until it cools completely.
To be fair, I had no idea how to get the cake out of pan in one piece and Betty’s directions baffled me – but Brock had done this before – who knew? Using a bread knife, carefully trim the puffed out cake bits until they are flush with the pan, then carefully loosen any visible bit of cake from any visible bit of pan that it’s touching, using your thinnest spatula – the cake should then basically fall out of the pan with the bottom tray still attached. Use the same method to loosen it from the bottom tray and you should have a pretty good-looking cake.
If you need to operate because a couple of chunks were left behind, this is where the whipped cream as icing or something thicker than a glaze can be used to tidy things up – think butter frosting.
I actually made this the day before (in case I needed to come up with a new dessert if it didn’t work!) and wrapped it well and froze it. The day of, I loosened the wrap slightly and let it sit on the counter for a few hours and then glazed it right before we left the house. The ease of this made me consider just randomly baking chiffon cakes to have one ready in the freezer.
We thought it worked out great, I will definitely make one again and a chocolate version may have to be next.
- Category: Cakes, Chiffon, Orange, Lemon