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Lemon Chiffon Cake

Published on February 27, 2014 . Blog, Charlotte Taylor, Issue 62
lemon-chiffon-cake
Photography by Lauren LaBoyteaux

Dreaming of warmer and brighter days, or wish you could exchange the brown and gray scenery for some color? I don’t know about you, but my heart sings when barren flower beds return to their former glory and those tiny lime green buds show up on the trees again. It’s such a breath of fresh air when spring returns, I am always ready for it. If you need a little boost getting into the spring mode, a lemony dessert might be the ticket to speed that process along. Lemony desserts are great spring comfort foods. Especially a lemon chiffon cake. They are so light and fluffy, and easier to whip up than you might think. It will bring that warm yellowy sunshine right into the depths of your soul.

A combination of an angel food cake and a regular batter cake, a chiffon cake uses vegetable oil instead of butter (the traditional fat used in cake making). Since it is difficult to beat air into oil, chiffon cakes, like angel food cakes, get their fluffy texture by folding in a lot of beaten egg whites. Chiffon cakes can also be baked into any shape. A Bundt pan, tube pan, muffin pan, or in rounds as a layered cake – just don’t use non-stick pans. Chiffon cakes need to ‘climb’ the sides, so DO NOT grease any pans you use for this type of cake. If the sides are slick, the cake can’t climb and you’ll be left with a not so pretty cake.

You can be just as creative when serving this sweet bit of sunshine. Dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with a lemony glaze, ice with buttercream, or top with a dollop of whipped cream. Whether you’re planning a menu for an upcoming spring gathering, need a cake for a bridal shower or ladies tea, a lemon chiffon cake just might hit the spot.

What you need:

  • 8 eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice – freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¾ cup cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • lemon curd or icing – homemade or store bought, optional

Yield – this recipe fills 3 round 8 inch baking pans

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Place racks on lower part of the oven. Prepare baking pans by covering the bottoms with parchment paper. Do not use any non-stick spray or butter. Just line with parchment. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine 8 egg yolks, oil, lemon juice, zest and water and whisk well. In a separate medium bowl, sift 1 cup of granulated sugar, the cake flour, soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in egg/lemon mixture. Combine, using a whisk, until smooth.
  3. Using the bowl of an electric mixer, add 8 egg whites, ½ cup sugar and cream of tartar. Mix on medium speed using the whisk attachment until “medium” stiff peaks form. When you remove the whisk and the peaks fall over on themselves the peaks are “soft”. When you remove the whisk and the peaks stay upright they are “stiff”. You want something between these two stages. Keeping the mixer on the same speed the entire time, will insure uniform air bubbles, which are key to a chiffon cake.
  4. Now, add one fourth of the egg whites into the other mixture and fold in. Folding egg whites into a mixture is still one of my least favorite things to do, however it’s not rocket science. Once that first small batch of egg whites is well incorporated, fold in remaining whites. (If you need a tutorial, hop over to charlottetaylorcreates.com and click on ‘helpful hints’).
  5. Divide mixture evenly between prepared pans and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. The cake should be a light golden brown. Over bake and cake may rise too high, crack, and possibly fall. Bake too little and the insides will be under cooked and the cake will fall after removing from oven. Exciting, isn’t it?!
  6. When cakes are done, remove from the oven and invert the pans onto a wire rack to cool – keeping the cakes right in the pans. As they cool on a wire rack, this provides airflow underneath them and keeps condensation from forming. All chiffon cakes should cool this way so they stretch down instead of collapsing. Once the cakes are cool, flip them over, and using a sharp knife or offset spatula, separate the cake from the pan in one fluid movement, pressing the knife as close to the pan as possible. Flip cake(s) onto platter, remove parchment paper and decorate as you wish. ENJOY!

Bonus Recipes!

 

Frosting

You can ice the chiffon cake with this frosting, your favorite buttercream, or just a dollop of plain whipped cream.

What you need:

  • 1 ½  cups heaving whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoon of lemon curd

What to do:

Whip the heavy cream and sugar in a large chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the lemon curd and combine well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to frost the cake.

Lemon Curd

This is SO much cheaper than store bought and you will even have some leftover.  It is so yummy you could just eat it with a spoon.

What you need:

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 stick real butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Makes about 3 or more cups

What to do:

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
  2. Add in the stick of butter and cream it with the sugar and lemon peel.  Stop machine to scrape down the sides from time to time.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken just below a simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

Raspberry Sauce (or any berry)

This is better than jam and is even great on ice cream, toast or oatmeal.

What you need:

  • 1 bag frozen raspberries (appx. 14 oz.)
  • ¼ -½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Makes about 2 cups

What to do:

  1. Place ingredients and ½ cup of the water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a nice simmer on medium heat.  Stir mixture and continue simmering until juice has been extracted from the berries, appx. 15 minutes.
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine cornstarch and the other ½ cup of water, stir to combine.  Remove berries from heat and quickly stir in cornstarch mixture.  Return to heat and simmer until they have reached desired thickness, adding more water as necessary.  Simmer until you are pleased with the thickness, remove from heat and stir in butter.  Strain through cheesecloth to remove seeds if desired. Cool and refrigerate.