The fluffiest chiffon cake you'll ever make, light and cloud-like vanilla sponge cake baked in a tube tin, perfect on its own or with a dollop of whipped cream
What is a chiffon cake?
A chiffon cake is a super light and fluffy cake made with a meringue base. The texture is airy and cloud-like with a subtle sweetness and flavour. Chiffon cakes are similar to angel food cakes, however are a little richer in flavour and darker in colour as they use whole eggs rather than just egg whites.
They are similar to the texture of a genoise. However, the addition of oil helps to create a moister and silkier texture that doesn't need simple syrups or cream to enhance it.
Chiffon cakes can be flavoured with so many different flavours, whether that be classic vanilla and chocolate or fruity flavours like strawberry and orange.
My personal favourite chiffon cake is a pandan chiffon cake, also known as the national cake of Singapore. The texture is light, and when paired with the fragrance of pandan leaves and coconut milk creates a cake from my dreams.
How to change the flavour of this cake
This is the chiffon cake base of your dreams. Once you nail the basics of this cake you can change it up and create any flavour you like. Here are a couple of ways you can personalise this cake with your favourite flavours.
- Matcha: replace 2 tablespoon of flour with matcha powder
- Chocolate: replace ¼ cup of flour with cocoa powder
- Orange: replace the milk with orange juice
- Strawberry: replace the milk with strawberry juice, or add a few tablespoon of freeze-dried strawberry powder
There are so many other variations, so feel free to play around with it and find your favourite!
Tips on creating the perfect cake
Chiffon cakes are fairly simple, however they are very prone to failure due to their light texture. Things like sunken cakes, dense bases, or eggy flavours are not uncommon so follow these tips for the perfect cake.
Use a aluminum tube tin
This is one of the most important things when making chiffon cakes. In order to create a tall and light cake we need a cake tin that will give the batter surface area to crawl up and rise. The tube structure of the pan gives the batter an extra surface to cling to, helping it rise to its full potential.
If you use a non-stick pan the batter will have a hard time grabbing onto a surface and rising. As a result the cake will be a lot flatter and denser. Non-stick pans also tend to be a lot darker in colour, and this will absorb heat as the cake bakes, giving it a darker crust and drier texture.
Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing an aluminium chiffon cake tin is to choose a tin with a removable base. This will make it a lot easier to remove your cake after it has been baked.
Create a stable meringue
Another important tip when making chiffon cakes is creating a stable meringue. Chiffon cakes rely on egg whites for their unique texture and tall structure, so having a meringue that can support the rest of the ingredients is crucial. Here are a couple of tips to create a stable meringue.
Use clean utensils
Grease is the enemy of all meringues. Oils and fats on your utensils will inhibit the potential of your meringue, preventing it from whipping to its full potential, or at all. I would recommend wiping down your bowl and beaters with lemon juice or vinegar to ensure that everything is squeaky clean before beginning.
Add a pinch of cream of tartar (optional)
An optional step that can strengthen your meringue is adding a pinch of cream of tartar once your egg whites are foamy. A simple ingredient that can be found in most grocery stores, this powder helps to strengthen your egg whites so that the meringue stays stable.
Beat the egg whites on medium speed
Beating the egg whites too fast will create lots of air large air bubbles. A stable meringue needs a small, tight network of air bubbles. So in order to create that network beat your meringue on medium speed for a longer period of time, rather than a high speed.
Beat the egg whites to a stiff peaks
As the cake relies on the egg whites to rise, make sure your egg whites reach stiff peaks before folding them into your other ingredients.
Beating egg whites to stiff peaks causes the cake to rise rapidly, which in many other sponges may not be the best option. However, a chiffon cake is baked in a tube tin. The tin allows the sponge cake to grab onto the extra surfaces and rise even higher. This means that the tin is able to hold the cake when it rises to its peak, creating a tall and fluffy cake!
Fold the batter gently
As with all sponge cakes made with a meringue base it is essential to maintain all the air you've created when folding the meringue. The easiest way to do this is folding the batter with a rubber spatula. Don't mix the batter, but go around the bowl and bring the heavy batter over the top and fold it in.
Folding the meringue in can be difficult if the cake batter is too thick. This is why we lighten the cake batter with one-third of the meringue before folding in the rest. You can mix the first third of meringue in quite vigorously, but afterwards everything must be mixed in with care.
Remove large air bubbles
If you followed all the tips, your cake batter should be light and fluffy with small air bubbles created with your stable meringue. However despite following all the tips there will still be large air bubbles throughout the batter. These air bubbles will cause pockets in your cake, and has the potential to create an uneven cake surface or cavities in your sponge.
We want to create an even cake crumb without large holes, so we want to get rid of as many large air bubbles as possible without deflating the batter. There are a couple of steps to achieve this.
Pour the batter into your cake tin slowly and from a higher distance
If you pour your cake batter into your tin slowly and from high up, the large air bubbles will pop as the batter falls into the tin.
Run a skewer or thin knife through your cake batter
Once the batter is in your tin use a skewer, chopstick or thin knife and draw a few circles through the batter. This will get rid of any air pockets or large air bubbles that remain
Give the cake a tap on your counter
The last step is giving your cake tin a tap on your counter before placing it in the oven. This should bring any large air bubbles to the surface of your cake and pop them.
Cool the cake upside down
Once your cake has baked to a tall and fluffy chiffon you want to keep it that way. Make sure you cool your cake upside down in order to maintain the tall structure.
As the cake cools warm air will escape from the cake, and if the cake is cooling upright the sponge will begin to sink. If the cake is cooling upside down gravity will help keep the cake at the same structure created during baking.
If you used a non-stick pan at this stage the cake will have fallen out of your cake tin as the sides aren't able to stick to the surface of the tin. That's why the cake tin choice is so important!
If you can find an aluminum tin with feet these are the best! The 'feet' on the top of the tin are there to help during the cooling process. This way you can cool your cake without crushing the surface. Otherwise turn your cake upside down and rest it on a wire cooling rack or even balance the centre of the tube on a bottle!
Frequently asked questions
Why did my cake deflate?
There are a couple of reasons why your cake deflated:
- You didn't use the right cake tin (see 'use an aluminum cake tin' in the tips above)
- The meringue created wasn't stable (see 'create a stable meringue' in the tips above)
- The cake wasn't cooled upside down (see 'cool the cake upside down' in the tips above)
- The cake was underbaked
Why is my cake dense?
There are a couple of reasons why your cake might be dense:
- The meringue wasn't whipped to stiff peaks (see 'beat your meringue to stiff peaks' in the tips above)
- The cake was underbaked: If the cake is underbaked the batter won't have the time to stabilise and will sink to create a dense texture
My cake is stuck to my tin! How do I get it off?
The cake should be stuck to the tin to create the perfect chiffon! There are two ways to remove the cake from the tin.
The first method is running a thin knife around the edge of the cake tin. The cake should then slip out. This method is the safest and most foolproof way to remove the cake from the tin, however it does leave the caramelised crust on the cake, increasing the possibility of an uneven surface. To fix this just use a thin knife and scrape off any areas of caramelised crust on the cake.
The second method is to pull the cake off the surface of the tin. If your cake has been baked correctly, it should be very spongy and elastic. Simply pull the edge of the cake away from the side of the tin and torwards the centre, this should release the cake from the surface. As the cake is so elastic it should spring back to its original form once released.
My cake tastes very eggy, how do I fix that?
As the cake is predominantely made from eggs it will have an eggier flavour than other sponge cakes. There are a couple of ways to reduce this!
- Use vanilla extract: the vanilla flavour and alcohol in the extract should help neutralise the eggy flavour
- Use orange juice: Orange juice has the ability to mask eggy flavours. By replacing a quarter of the milk with orange juice the eggy flavour is masked, without it becoming an orange flavoured cake.
How long does this cake last?
This cake will last up to 3 days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container, or up to a week in the fridge.
Let's Get Baking
If you're looking for a foolproof chiffon cake recipe with all the essential tips you've found it. I hope this guide can help you create the perfect chiffon cake!
If you make this recipe make sure to leave me a comment and rating down below, I would love to hear how it went.
Also don't forget to tag me on instagram @catherine.justdessertsau and hashtag #cattycakes so I can see and share your desserts!Print
The fluffiest cake you'll ever make, light and cloud-like vanilla sponge cake baked in a tube tin, perfect on its own or with a dollop of whipped cream
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 x 8-inch cake 1x
- Category: Cake
- Method: Easy
- Cuisine: Asian
- 120ml Whole milk (½ cup)
- 6 Large egg yolks
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 38g Caster sugar (I) (3 tbsp)
- 80ml Vegetable oil (⅓ cup)
- 150g Cake flour (1 ½ cup)
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 6 Large egg whites
- 90g Caster sugar (II) (⅓ cup 2 tbsp)
- Preheat the oven to 170C/340F and prepare an ungreased 8-inch aluminum chiffon cake tin with a removable base
- In a medium-sized bowl combine the milk, egg yolks, vanilla extract, caster sugar (I) and vegetable oil, whisk to combine
- Sift in the flour and baking powder and whisk until just combined
- Add the egg whites to a large bowl, or the bowl of a standmixer, and whisk until foamy
- Add the caster sugar (II) and whisk on medium speed until stiff peaks
- Add ⅓ of the meringue to the egg yolks and whisk until just combined
- Transfer the lightened egg yolk mixture to the remaining egg whites and gently fold until just combined
- Gently transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin and give the tin a few taps to remove any large air bubbles
- Bake for 45 minutes, or an inserted skewer emerges clean
- Remove from the oven and invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely
- Once completely cooled run a thin knife around the sides and base of the cake to unmould
- Slice and serve alone or with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh fruit
Keywords: chiffon, vanilla, sponge cake