Secret to a Light & Fluffy Chiffon Cake

Once you know the secret of the science behind this light-as-air sponge cake, it’s easy to make your own chiffon cake.

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What’s the difference between chiffon and other sponge cakes?

Sponge cake is one of 4 different styles of baking a cake which also includes butter or oil, flourless, and unbaked flourless cakes.

There are 4 different types of sponge cakes:

  1. Biscuit (BEES-kee): eggs are separated, the whites are whipped and then they are mixed back together.
  2. Génoise (ZEN-waz): eggs are not separated, they mixed with sugar, heated over a Bain Marie (simmering water) and then whipped.
  3. Angel Food: egg whites only, whipped and then continue whipping as adding sugar.
  4. Chiffon (SHE-fawn): this is a “cheating” sponge cake because it contains oil. A batter is made and whipped egg whites are added to the batter to make it light and fluffy.

What kind of cake pan do I need for a Chiffon cake?

A Chiffon cake should be baked in a tall aluminum pan of at least 4″ to accommodate its height.

Do not use a non-stick pan. The batter needs to stick to the sides to support it as it rises.

The pan should have a removable base. The cake must be cooled upside down in its pan so it won’t collapse.

Amazon has the perfect cake pan* that can bake round or bundt style cakes.

Do NOT grease the pan. This prevents the batter from sticking to the side the way it needs to in order to rise properly.

How do I make the best meringue for the cake?

A perfect meringue (beaten egg whites) is key to a light, fluffy, bouncy chiffon cake.

separating the egg whites

Make sure there isn’t any yolk in your egg whites. Yolk is a fat, and it will keep your whites from foaming properly.

Chilling the egg whites makes the meringue smooth with stronger air bubbles that help the cake rise higher.

beating the egg whites with a mixer

With a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

beating sugar into egg whites with mixer

Turn mixer to high speed. Slowly beat in sugar little by little, and continue beating until stiff peaks form and it is glossy.

whip until glossy and peaks

If you want to make a Chocolate Chiffon cake, just add 1/2 cup baking cocoa.

Chiffon Cake

LIght, airy, bouncy chiffon cake recipe.

  • 7 eggs, separated (chill egg whites)
  • ½ c water
  • ½ c canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 c cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ c sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

  2. Put flour, ¾ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of mixer and combine.

  3. In a medium bowl whisk egg yolks, water, oil and vanilla until combined.

  4. Pour wet ingredients into bowl of mixer with dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

  5. In another bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium low until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. With mixer on high, slowly add remaining ¾ c of sugar and continue to beat until stiff but not dry – the egg whites are glossy. *Under-beating will make the cake collapse due to lack of bubbles, while over-beating will produce a heavy, shallow cake.

  6. When mixing the batter and the meringue (egg whites), it is important to keep the foam/air bubbles from deflating. Add ⅓ meringue to batter. Use a balloon whisk and fold slowly and gently. Add another ⅓ and fold again. Then take the batter mixture and fold it into the remaining ⅓ of meringue. *If the meringue isn’t mixed in properly large air pockets will form in the cake, or there will be white streaks of egg white in the cake. If it is mixed too much, the foam bubbles will deflate creating a dense, shallow cake.

  7. Slowly and gently pour the mixture into an ungreased cake pan. The goal is to make sure there are no air bubbles in the batter when pouring. Cut through the batter with a knife to release air pockets.

  8. Bake for about 55 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean, and the top springs back when lightly touched.

  9. Remove from oven and immediately turn cake upside down on a greased cooling rack. This helps the cake stay tall without collapsing. Cool completely, at least 1 hour.

  10. To remove the cake from the pan, run a metal offset spatula around the edge of the pan and put cake on a serving plate.

  11. Unfrosted cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. Can also be frozen for up to 2 months.

  12. Serve as is with icing sugar sprinkled on top. Or, slice in half horizontally and spread one half with buttercream icing, place second half on top and then frost.

Flavor your chiffon cake with lemon or orange zest, or matcha green tea.


Want more? See all our cake recipes.

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