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How to Make Any Chiffon Cake Recipe the Right Way.

Updated on April 6, 2020
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Ryan has been an online writer for over a decade and loves to share and educate.


Chiffon cake is a sponge cake to itself. Among the contenders, it's not the sweetest one served on a menu but it makes up for this by being the moistest. That's because it's also an oil cake. Yes, it uses vegetable oil in its batter though not too much to the imagination.

Additionally, this sponge cake relies on most if not all types of leavening whereas it uses not only whipped egg whites but also chemicals like baking powder or baking soda, and even a considerable amount of steam depending on the variant. For example, a lemon chiffon cake uses a mixture of lemon juice and water in the batter. N.B.: This recipe will be included in the guide for reference.

Now, these details tend to make chiffon cake seem like it's quite tedious but it's far from the truth. Like any cake, all one needs to do is learn about the formula complete with the typical ingredient ratio (more on that later) and they can't go wrong.

The Formula

A typical cake formula consists of flour, eggs, sugar, and fat (butter/oil) arranged in a specific ratio depending on the cake type. For a basic sponge cake or pound cake, it's a 1:1:1:1 ratio in that order. A sponge cake starts with whipping the eggs with sugar, followed by adding the butter that's usually melted (or omitted from the recipe) and ending with the flour.

Other more complex variations of sponge cakes are made with larger quantities of eggs compared to the other ingredients. That's because these cakes rely on the leavening power that eggs bring to the formula. When whipped, the eggs take in air to form a foam that then releases it to rise through the batter when the heat is introduced during baking. However, not all spongecakes share the same quantities of eggs needed for their batter.

A basic chiffon cake calls for a 1:2:1:1/2 ratio of flour to eggs to sugar to oil. However, it can be adjusted for certain results. The eggs can be increased for better leavening and the sugar can be increased to make the texture sweeter and lighter.

Another thing to note is that not all sponge cakes call for the eggs to be whipped as a whole like a chiffon cake for example. This cake's recipe calls for the separation of the yolks from the whites before being whipped. The whites will often times be whipped with some of the sugar at a ratio of 2:1 or 2:1/2 to form a meringue; a stiff, white foam substance that's perfect for leavening cakes. The yolks will be whipped with the other ingredients during mixing.

It is important to note that all of the equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and dried before whipping the whites or any gunk could easily destabilize them. It's also imperative to add a stabilizer--an acidic ingredient such as cream of tartar, citric juice or white vinegar--to the whites before beating.

The whites and stabilizer are whipped to the point where they become frothy, then the sugar is gradually added by the spoonful to carefully incorporate it. Once they turn white and form stiff peaks, the whipping can finish. Do not overwork the whites or they will become to dry for leavening.

The Steps

So to make a chiffon cake, the steps are as follows:

  1. Ingredients and equipment are gathered. Dry ingredients and wet ingredients are separated. equipment is thoroughly cleaned.
  2. Sugar is divided in two; one portion is combined with the other dry ingredients while the other portion is saved for combining with the whites. Dry ingredients including sugar halve are combined in a cleaned bowl with a clean whisk.
  3. Eggs are opened and the whites are separated from the yolks. The yolks are combined with other wet ingredients (oil, flavorings, etc) except for the whites in another cleaned bowl with a clean whisk.
  4. The dry mixture is then combined with the wet mixture.
  5. The egg whites and stabilizer are beaten together in a clean bowl with clean beaters of an electric mixer on medium speed. The remaining sugar is then added to the whites while still beating by the spoonful. The whites are beaten until they form a meringue; its consistency is that of white, glossy peaks that are stiff but not dry. This consistency is crucial as anything more or less could deflate the batter of the chiffon cake.
  6. The beaten whites are then folded into the mixture gently in small additions over time to prevent deflation.
  7. The batter is transferred to an ungreased tube pan ( too much oil could prevent it from rising) and baked for an hour until the cake is springy to the touch. The cake is then removed and inverted over a rack or a wine bottle for another hour.
  8. The cake is then removed over a plate and glazed before serving.

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: 12

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 2 cups confectionary sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon butter, melted


  1. For the cake, preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C). Set aside a 10-inch (25cm), ungreased tube pan for the cake.
  2. Pour the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest into a bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer over a normal bowl) and beat them together until fully combined. Form a well in the middle of the dry mixture using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add the vegetable oil, yolks, fresh lemon juice, and water to a bowl and beat everything together on medium speed until combined. Make sure to stop in the middle of the beating to scrape down the bowl.
  3. Transfer the mixture to another bowl and thoroughly clean the one used with the electric mixer or replace it with a spare one. Also, replace the paddle attachment with a clean whisk attachment. Make sure the bowl and attachment are completely clean before starting on the egg whites.
  4. Add the egg whites and the lemon juice to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed until frothy. Switch to medium-high speed and start adding the sugar by the spoonful. Continue beating the whites until all sugar is added and the whites turn stiff but not dry. It's important that they don't turn dry or you will have to start over.
  5. Gradually fold the whites into the mixture in quarter additions, making sure that each addition is fully incorporated. Use a spoon or spatula to gently transfer the batter to the tube pan and smooth down the surface. Bake in the oven on the lowest rack for 50 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched. Remove the tube pan from the oven and invert it over a cake rack or glass bottle to cool down for an hour.
  6. Reinvert the tube pan and run a sharp knife around both the inner and outer edges. Place and hold a plate on top of the tube pan and carefully invert it again on top of a surface. Tap the bottom of the tube pan and carefully lift it vertically to release the cake.
  7. For the glaze, combine the confectionary sugar, lemon juice, zest and butter in a bowl. Whisk together until smooth. Spread the glaze over the surface of the cake.

© 2020 Ryan Fanus


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