A chiffon cake is what angel food cake wants to be when it grows up. A little taller, a little prettier, and a lot sexier. Like angel food cake, it gets its height and airy texture from whipped egg whites.
But that’s where comparisons end!
Chiffon cakes also boast richness and an almost unbelievable tenderness. They’re not as sweet as angel food and can come in all kinds of flavors, including the classic lemon version that made its debut at Hollywood parties in the 1940s. And while pure-white angel food cake would seem inappropriate iced or lavishly garnished (think of lipstick on a child), its more worldly sister looks comfortably stylish covered in pink frosting or candied almonds.
Harry Baker, a Los Angeles insurance agent, is said to have invented the original chiffon cake in 1927. As word spread of this new and amazingly airy cake, he was continually asked for the recipe.
For two decades he carefully guarded his secret recipe, making his special cake only for the reigning royalty of the silver screen. Baker sold the cake to Hollywood stars and made it for the famous Brown Derby Restaurant.
The secret to Baker’s light and airy chiffon cake is that the egg whites are beaten separately from the yolks, and it uses vegetable oil instead of butter or conventional shortening.
In 1947, General Mills bought the recipe from Harry Baker. He agreed to sell the recipe to General Mills so “Betty Crocker could give the secret to the women of America.”General Mills released the secret recipe for chiffon cake in the May 1948 Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, and it became a nationwide sensation. The secret ingredient, vegetable oil, was then revealed. Better Homes and Garden Magazine advertised the cake as “The first really new cake in 100 years.” In the 1950s, General Mills sponsored chiffon cake contests. People came up with all flavors of this cake during that time.
LEMON CHIFFON CAKE
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbls baking powder
1 ½ cups of sugar
1 tps of salt
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of water
8 eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated fresh lemon peel
1 ½ tsp lemon extract + 1 Tbls fresh lemon juice
½ tsp of cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Have on hand an ungreased 10" round angel food cake pan.
Sift into a large mixing bowl the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add (in order) the oil, water, egg yolks, vanilla, grated lemon peel, extract.and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Mix until smooth; scrape the bowl and mix for 30 seconds more.
In a separate bowl with clean beaters, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar or 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Whip until very stiff.
Fold one-quarter of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it up, then gradually (in four additions) pour the yolk mixture back over the remaining whites, folding gently just until blended each time. Pour the batter into the pan.
Bake the cake for 55 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes (or an additional 5 to 10 minutes if using a tube pan), until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and cool it upside down, inverted over the neck of a bottle.
When completely cool, run a thin-bladed metal spatula between the cake and the pan, and turn the cake out onto a serving plate.
Pairs perfectly with slightly whipped cream and fresh berries!