Orange Chiffon Cake

We consider chiffon cake to be the crème de la crème of the cake world, and our Orange Chiffon Cake is as lovely as they get.

orange chiffon cake on a cake stand with coffee around
Photo: Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs
Servings:
12

This delicate chiffon cake gains subtle citrus notes from the orange juice and zest incorporated into the batter. Light, fluffy, and full of air, this foam cake climbs high in the pan, resulting in a lovely thick, tall sponge. Chiffon cake differs from other foam cakes, such as angel food cake, in that it contains fat (in this case, egg yolks and canola oil). The fat imparts a richness to the cake, while the whipped egg whites keep the sponge as light as air.

If you've never baked a chiffon cake before, we have a few notes to help you succeed. Avoid greasing the sides of the pan, which will prevent your cake from climbing up the sides and rising. Be sure not to overbeat the egg whites and be very gentle when folding the beaten egg whites into the batter—overmixing will deflate the cake batter, resulting in a flat cake. Stiff peaks and gentle folding make for a light, tender crumb.

We consider this Orange Chiffon Cake to be the perfect spring and summer dessert. This stunning cake requires no icing at all—a simple dusting of powdered sugar allows this centerpiece-worthy dessert to shine in all its orange-perfumed glory. Next, give the chocolate version a whirl.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable shortening

  • 2 ½ cups (about 9¼ ounces) sifted bleached cake flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon table salt

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided

  • ½ cup canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest plus ½ cup fresh juice (from 2 oranges)

  • ¼ cup water

  • 5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar           

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

  • Thin orange slices, cut into wedges

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only (avoid greasing sides) of a 16-cup metal tube pan or angel food cake pan with shortening; set aside. Stir together cake flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup of the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add oil, orange zest and juice, ¼ cup water, egg yolks, and vanilla. Fit stand mixer with a paddle attachment, and beat on medium speed until completely smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.

  2. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high, and gradually add remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 1 more minute. Fold one-third of egg white mixture into batter; gently fold remaining egg white mixture into batter until completely combined. Spoon batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a small offset spatula.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until top springs back when lightly pressed and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. (Do not over-bake. Cake will be a very pale golden color.) Invert pan onto a bottle or wire rack to cool completely, about 2 hours. Invert cake again onto countertop, and run a sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen sides, and remove cake from pan.

  4. Place cake on serving platter, and sift powdered sugar evenly over top. Shingle or arrange orange slices on 1 side of cake, and serve.

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