Classic chiffon cake is light and fluffy, with a sweet vanilla flavor. The cake is finished with a simple dusting of powdered sugar and can be garnished with fresh berries, if desired.
What Is Chiffon Cake?
Chiffon cake is very similar to both sponge cake and angel food cake. It’s a light cake that’s made with oil, a full tablespoon of baking powder, and egg whites to produce its signature airiness.
The difference between chiffon cake vs sponge cake is that a sponge cake typically doesn’t use oil and has little to no leavening agents (such as baking powder).
When comparing chiffon vs angel food cake, the differences are less subtle. Angel food cake is made with just egg whites (chiffon cakes utilize the entire egg) and no leavening agents.
You can also serve this vanilla chiffon cake any time of year. It’s delicious with a simple dusting of powdered sugar, but a dollop of whipped cream and garnish of seasonal fruit is amazing as well!
Ingredients for the Recipe
This recipe for chiffon cake uses basic ingredients that you likely keep on hand. When prepared properly, these everyday ingredients create the most spectacular cake! Let’s quickly go over the key things you’ll need for this recipe.
- Cake flour: Contains less protein than all-purpose flour, which results in a lighter cake. If you don’t have cake flour, you can make a substitute with just all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
- Eggs: You will be using 6 large eggs, but the yolks and whites need to be separated. I suggest separating them before you start mixing the batter together to make it easier.
- Baking powder: This recipe contains one tablespoon of baking powder to help the cake rise. (It’s not a typo, I promise!)
- Oil: Use a neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil.
- Cream of tartar: Helps stabilize the egg whites and retain their texture.
- Almond Extract: I highly recommend adding some almond extract because it adds a lovely flavor to this cake! If you don’t have any on hand, you may replace it with vanilla extract.
How to Make Chiffon Cake
This is a simple yet elegant cake recipe that anyone can master. Be sure to read through the instructions before beginning the recipe, as some steps don’t follow the usual cake-making guidelines (the baking pan remains ungreased, for example).
- Sift together the dry ingredients: Sift the cake flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the wet ingredients: Use another bowl to whisk together the egg yolks, milk, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet: Mix until just combined. I like to use a rubber spatula to do this.
- Beat the egg whites: In a clean bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on medium-low speed until foamy, then increase the speed and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the egg whites into the batter: Fold in 1/4 of the egg whites first, this will lighten the batter. Then, gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Be very careful not to overwork the egg whites or else you’ll knock the air out of them.
- Bake the cake: Pour the cake batter into an ungreased tube pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Invert the cake to cool: You need to invert the cake pan onto a wire cooling rack as soon as it comes out of the oven. Only once the cake has cooled completely is it safe to run a knife around the edges to remove it from the pan.
- Garnish and serve: I prefer dusting my chiffon cakes with powdered sugar and serving individual slices with fresh berries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Once the cake has cooled completely you can wrap the whole cake or slices with plastic wrap and freeze them in a large freezer bag for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy the cake, place it on the counter and let it thaw to room temperature.
Similar to angel food cake, chiffon cake batter rises very high in the oven. As it rises, the batter clings to the ungreased tube pan.
If you grease the tube pan, the batter won’t have anything to stick to and will fall after being taken out of the oven.
If your chiffon cake collapsed or deflated after being taken out of the oven, it could be for a few reasons:
– The egg whites weren’t beaten to stiff peaks. Under beating the egg whites can lead to an unstable cake.
– You used a non-stick pan or greased the tube pan. The cake needs to cling to the sides of the ungreased tube pan in order to rise properly without collapsing in on itself.
– You didn’t flip the cake pan over soon enough. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, you must invert it onto a wire rack. This prevents the cake from collapsing.
– You didn’t bake the cake for long enough. Underbaked cakes will fall in the middle, even if you followed the recipe correctly. I recommend testing the cake with a skewer or toothpick to ensure that it’s fully baked through.
- To make the egg whites easier to beat, bring the eggs to room temperature before beginning the recipe. If you need to bring your eggs to room temperature quickly, simply place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Make sure to gently fold the egg whites into the batter. If you over mix the egg whites, it can cause them to deflate and the cake won’t rise properly.
- Do not grease your tube pan! This will allow the cake to stick to the sides of the pan and rise without collapsing.
- 2 cups cake flour spooned & leveled (230 grams)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 large eggs separated and at room temperature
- ¾ cup whole milk at room temperature (180 ml)
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil (120 ml)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
- In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks (set aside the egg whites for later), milk, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract by hand for 1 to 2 minutes or until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Set aside while you prepare the egg whites.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy.
- Increase the mixer to medium-high speed and continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Fold ¼ of the whipped egg whites into the batter just until combined and you see very few streaks. Then, fold in the remaining whipped whites until just combined. Be gentle with it because you don’t want to deflate the egg whites.
- Carefully, pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan (I prefer to use one with a removable bottom). Cut a knife through the batter to remove any air pockets, then smooth it out into one even layer.
- Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top of the cake begins to brown too much before it’s done, tent loosely with foil.
- Immediately, invert the cake pan over a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the pan.
- Once the cake has fully cooled (about 2 to 3 hours), carefully run an offset spatula or knife around the edges and the center of the pan to detach the cake from the pan. Turn the cake pan onto a serving plate and hit the bottom of the pan to release the cake from the pan. If you have a pan with a removable bottom, use a butter knife or angled spatula to help remove the bottom piece.
- Serve with whipped cream and strawberries or garnish with confectioners sugar.