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A Simple Lemon Chiffon Cake Recipe You’ll Love

Chiffon cakes are some of the most beautiful cakes you'll find in a bakery case. They are tall, with an airy, even crumb that promises every bite will be light and fluffy. They may not have multiple layers or fancy frosting, but they are classic cakes that are always crowd-pleasers. That makes this delightful lemon chiffon cake recipe the perfect addition to your cake-baking repertoire. 

Light, Fluffy Lemon Chiffon Cake

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What is a chiffon cake?

Chiffon cakes were invented in Los Angeles in the 1920s by a baker who was looking to create a cake that was both lighter than a buttery pound cake and more moist than a sponge cake. The cake was an overnight success, but the recipe was kept secret for 20 years until it was sold to General Mills and released to the public as one of Betty Crocker's signature desserts.

Try This Tart, Sweet Lemon Chiffon Cake

About the ingredients

The light texture of the lemon chiffon cake comes primarily from beaten egg whites, which are folded into the batter and give it a high rise similar to that of an angel food cake. To ensure that the finished cake rises up to the required height, most recipes (this one included) add some baking powder to the cake batter in addition to all those beaten eggs. 

Another important component of the chiffon cake is cake flour. Cake flour is a low-protein flour that is milled to an almost powdery texture. It generates less gluten in a cake batter than other types of flours, leading to a cake with a finer crumb than all-purpose or bread flour can produce. Its light texture works well with the beaten egg whites to keep the cake fluffy.

Sifting Cake Flour

Since cake flour has such small particles, it tends to clump as it is stored. The easiest way to measure it is to spoon it out into a measuring cup, then level it as you would with other flours. Once you have measured it, be sure to sift it before using for best results. 

Eggs and flour aren't unusual in a cake batter, so what was that secret ingredient that make chiffon cake so unique?

It turns out to be vegetable oil. In a chiffon cake, the vegetable oil is added to a batter that contains a lot of beaten egg whites, which gives it its high rise and ultra-light texture. The vegetable oil ensures that the cake remains soft and moist after it comes out of the oven. It has such a lasting moisturizing power that the cake will remain fresh for quite a few days. 

Recipe notes

Like an angel food cake, which is very similar in appearance, this lemon chiffon cake is baked in a round tube pan. The pan should be ungreased, allowing the cake to "climb" the sides of the pan as it rises.

Also like an angel food cake, the cake should be cooled upside down. If your pan has "feet" on it, you can simply invert your pan onto the counter. If it does not, you will need to invert it onto a bottle so that the cake is held away from the countertop. 

Cooling Chiffon Cake on the Counter

A basic chiffon cake is easy to make and very impressive to look at. It is also like a blank slate for other flavors. The recipe below is for a lemon chiffon cake, but you can easily switch out the lemon for orange or another citrus fruit. If you prefer a vanilla cake, replace the citrus juice with more milk and double the vanilla extract.

Fresh Lemon Zest

The cake needs no frosting, but it can be finished with a light glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar if you want to dress it up.

Lemon chiffon cake recipe

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • 1½ cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1:

Ungreased Tube Pan

Preheat oven to 325 F. Take out a 10-inch tube pan and set aside. Do not grease the pan. 

Step 2:

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ¾ cup sugar, baking powder and salt.

In another medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vegetable oil, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract until smooth. Combine the flour mixture and the egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Step 3:

Beating Egg Whites to Make A Meringue

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until very foamy. With the mixer on high speed, gradually stream in the remaining ¾ cup sugar. Continue to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, 3-5 minutes. 

Step 4:

Adding Egg Whites to Lemon Chiffon Cake Batter

Add one-third of the egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture and whisk to combine. This will lighten the batter.

Adding Egg Whites to Chiffon Cake Batter

Add in another third of the egg white mixture and fold in, using a spatula, until the egg whites are well-combined.

Folding Egg Whites to Chiffon Cake Batter

Add in the remaining egg white mixture and fold it in until no streaks of egg whites remain. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Chiffon Cake Batter in Pan

Step 5:

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and appears to be set.

Lemon Chiffon Cake in a Tube Pan

Step 6:

Take the cake out of the oven and immediately flip the pan upside down, standing it up on its "feet" or carefully placing the pan over a bottle. Cool the cake completely before up-righting the cake. 

Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then transfer it to a cake stand to serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container. 

Light, Fluffy Lemon Chiffon Cake Recipe

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12 Comments

Jules

it would be so helpful if the ingredients could be given in weight measurements as well as cup sizes for your European members.

Reply
Denise

I agree with Jules, weights are more precise and grams are more precise than ounces and pounds. I convert most of my recipes or deliberately use European or Canadian recipes so that I don’t have to convert them. I learned this from my cake books by Nicholas Lodge.

Reply
kristine

Hi, just wondering what type of oven u use? Is it fan forced or convention oven?
Thanks

Reply
Nicole Weston

Kristine – This recipe is made using a traditional oven. Convection oven will always be specified in a recipe because it requires a different temperature for baking and the same is generally true with a fan-assist recipe.

Reply
Diane

I used to buy the cake mix in a box, but they no longer make a chiffon cake mix. Am anxious to try this recipe. Thanks

Reply
Krissy

I’m wanting to try this cake, but wondering if it has to be done in a tube pan? can this be done as a sheet or a normal round? and what time differences there would be baking it

Reply
Avi

I made this cake recently, but I tripled the amount of lemon zest. It came out lemony but not overly so, and I suspect the amount given in the recipe would result in a pretty tame lemon flavor. It was delicious, tender, and moist – one of the best chiffon cakes I’ve made. I used a conversion of 1 cup = 4 oz cake flour, so I used 9 oz (255 g) of cake flour. Most chiffon cake recipes use water instead of milk, and I wonder if the milk in this recipe makes the cake more tender.

Reply
Rose

If I tried this recipe,what is the temperature needed on my convection oven.

Thanks

Reply
gary christie

i made it exactly as specified, cooked for 55 min, cooling but looks beautiful, i started making cakes recently and would never use a mix, can not understand, it would remove the enjoyment and reward
thank you

Reply
Nitasha

Why dont we grease the pan?

Reply
Nitasha

Why dont we grease the pan?
Sorry just saw why? Will this work in a non stick silicone bunt pan?

Reply

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