Lemon Chiffon Cake

lemon chiffon cake with raspberries

Lemon Chiffon Cake is a famously fluffy lemon sponge cake that’s delicious on its own or topped with whipped cream and berries. The ultra light texture makes this cake a summer favorite.

lemon chiffon cake is a game changer

It may not be such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but in the little universe that is our kitchen, a great new cake recipe can be a game changer. This one is different from anything I’ve shared before, in fact I had to get a brand new tube pan for it, and now we’re obsessed.

the history of chiffon cakes

“The recipe is credited to Harry Baker (1883–1974), a Californian insurance salesman turned caterer. Baker kept the recipe secret for 20 years until he sold it to General Mills, which spread the recipe through marketing materials in the 1940s and 1950s under the name “chiffon cake”, and a set of 14 recipes and variations was released to the public in a Betty Crocker pamphlet published in 1948.”

Wikipedia

let’s talk texture (it’s dreamy)

You can’t have a discussion about lemon chiffon cake without talking texture. Woa. Light, spongey, feathery, airy, diaphanous…and it slices like a dream. It’s really unlike any other type of cake, and so worth making. You can eat a piece and hardly even know it!

The secret to the fluffy texture of a chiffon cake is that it’s made with oil, not butter, and the egg whites are beaten before being folded into the batter. This results in an airy sponge-like cake that stays moist and tender longer than regular cakes.

everything you need to know about chiffon cakes

What’s the difference between a chiffon cake and an angel food cake?

Both cakes are tall and light and baked in a tube pan, and both are made with beaten egg whites, but chiffon cakes contain oil and egg yolks, while angel food cakes do not. A chiffon cake has a slightly more open, spongy texture than an angel food cake. A chiffon cake is a little richer, with better flavor, and a more appealing texture, in my opinion.

How do I get my egg whites to whip up nice and fluffy?

Make sure your bowl and beaters are clean and free from oil. Even a tiny bit of oil can deflate your whites. Use a glass or metal bowl, not plastic, and room temperature egg whites beat up easier than cold.

Can you over whip egg whites?

Yes, you can. You want to whip them until they just hold their peaks when you lift up your beaters. If you beat them too much they’ll get coarse and grainy.

Do I have to use a tube pan for chiffon cake?

Chiffon and angel food cakes are super delicate, and the structure of a tube pan helps them rise tall. You can theoretically bake this batter in other pans but you’d have to adjust the amount of batter for the pan (the cake rises high and can overflow.) It would still need to be cooled upside down.

Why do you cool a chiffon cake upside down?

Chiffon cakes are very airy and light, so cooling the cake upside down takes pressure off the just baked cake and ensures that it won’t collapse. If your pan has ‘legs’ like mine, below, that makes it easy.

Cooling a lemon chiffon cake in an inverted tube pan.

Can I make a gluten free chiffon cake?

You can use a good gluten free baking mix in place of the all purpose flour in this cake.

Can I make this cake without the lemon?

Yes, leave out the lemon juice, zest, and extract. Add more water to compensate for the lemon juice, and extra vanilla extract in place of the lemon extract.

lemon chiffon cake dusted with powdered sugar

lemon chiffon cake has a subtle lemon flavor

This isn’t one of those super tangy lemon cakes like my lemon velvet sheet cake or lemon drizzle cake. This one speaks in soft citrusy tones, but is no less delicious. Sponge cakes need flavoring to make them interesting, whether it’s vanilla, almond, rum, chocolate, or some sort of citrus. I think a lime or orange version of this cake would be delicious.

You can double down on the lemon flavor in this cake depending on how you serve it. If you like you can make a simple glaze with powdered sugar and lemon juice to spoon over the top (see instructions in the recipe notes.)

how to serve lemon chiffon cake

This cake is a blank slate for so many different serving variations (the flat top makes it easy to decorate.) It can totally work on its own with just a dusting of powdered sugar, but if you want to take it to the next level, you have options.

  • the most traditional way to serve this cake is with whipped cream and fresh berries. It’s simple and classy. You can pile them on top of the cake, or just serve them on the side.
  • macerate strawberries for a juicy topping: toss sliced berries with sugar and let sit for at least 30 minutes to coax out the juices.
  • it lends itself to all sorts of glazes, from chocolate or vanilla bean to lemon. Spread it over the top and let it drip over the sides. Delicious.
  • a full on fruit sauce like strawberry, raspberry or cherry would be really nice. Blueberries go especially well with lemon.
  • serve with lemon curd on the side.
  • drizzle with chocolate or caramel sauce.
  • frost the entire cake with a sweetened whipped cream or a simple buttercream frosting.
  • it’s excellent as a base for any flavor ice cream you like. Serve a slice topped with a scoop and the spongy cake will absorb the melting ice cream…it’s wonderful.

more lemony desserts

lemon chiffon cake with raspberries
Print
5 from 15 votes

Lemon Chiffon Cake

Lemon Chiffon Cake is a famously light and fluffy lemon sponge cake that's delicious on its own or served with whipped cream and berries.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield 18 servings
Calories 197kcal
Author Sue Moran

Equipment

  • 10" angel food cake tube pan

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • zest of two large lemons (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325F. Have a 10 inch angel food tube pan ready, but don't grease.
  • Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar just until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
    Whisking dry ingredients for lemon chiffon cake.
  • Add the egg yolks, oil, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, and extracts to the flour mixture, and whisk well, until very smooth.
    Whisking wet ingredients for lemon chiffon cake.
  • Add a small amount of the beaten egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and fold together gently until well combined.
    Folding egg whites into batter for lemon chiffon cake.
  • Add the egg yolk mixture slowly back into the rest of the egg whites, in a few batches, folding everything together gently between each addition until everything is combined. Don't over mix, and be gentle so you don't lose all that air you whipped into the egg whites.
    Folding egg whites into the batter for lemon chiffon cake.
  • Pour the batter into an ungreased 10 inch angel food cake pan.
    lemon chiffon cake batter in pan
  • Bake for 55 minutes, then turn the oven temperature up to 350F and bake for about 10 more minutes, until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely with the pan turned upside down. You can invert your pan over a bottle to let it cool, or if your pan has little legs like mine does, you can rest it on those. When it's cool, gently run a thin knife between the cake and the edge of the pan, and remove the cake from the pan.
    Cooling a lemon chiffon cake in an inverted tube pan.
  • Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries, if desired.
    Lemon chiffon cake on a white plate with a bowl of raspberries and a jar of whipped cream.

Cook’s notes

  • For this cake you do not grease the pan, this way the batter can cling to the walls of the pan to help it rise high. It does help to have a pan in good condition. If your pan is old or scratched, the cake may be more difficult to remove.
  • To make a simple citrus glaze for your cake, whisk together 2 cups confectioner’s sugar with about 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice to form a glaze. Spread over the top of the cooled cake and let drip down the sides.
*recipe lightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

Nutrition

Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 159mg | Potassium: 127mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 106IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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15 Comments

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    Please rate this recipe!




  • Reply
    Jolene
    August 7, 2021 at 4:37 am

    5 stars
    This cake is absolutely amazing!! Served with fresh lemon curd and whipped cream. Curious if I need to store this cake in the fridge. I am the only one who cares for lemon so it going to last me a little while.

  • Reply
    Laura LindseyGreat
    July 18, 2021 at 7:12 am

    Great recipe, sure to give it a try

  • Reply
    Rosanna
    July 16, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    Please send me your book. Thank you

  • Reply
    Mrs Christine Waters
    July 14, 2021 at 10:02 am

    Can I ask do you use large eggs or medium. Thank you

  • Reply
    Judy
    July 14, 2021 at 9:50 am

    I can’t cream of tartar. What should I use instead?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 14, 2021 at 10:17 am

      Hi Judy, you can use an equal amount of lemon juice, that will work well.

  • Reply
    Jenny
    July 13, 2021 at 11:31 pm

    5 stars
    I love this cake, I am ready to give it a try! Lemons or oranges are one of my favorite cakes, specially to enhanced with frosting or fillings.

  • Reply
    Liz
    July 10, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    Chiffon cake is my favorite. I love to use it in layer cakes too, especially when I want to use frostings and fillings that need to be refrigerated. Just use (2) 10 inch cake pans and bake for 40 minutes, and yes, cool upside down.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 10, 2021 at 6:14 pm

      Another interesting fact is that because they’re made with oil, not butter, they don’t get stiff or hard in the fridge.

  • Reply
    LUCY
    July 10, 2021 at 10:56 am

    I get frustrated because I cannot copy a picture of the chiffon cake to put on my printed recipe. I always like to have an illustrated picture of the recipe I am making. Is there something I can do to prevent the blocking of the picture on your website for this recipe as well as other recipes of yours???????

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 10, 2021 at 1:38 pm

      There should be a button at the top of the recipe print page which allows you to print the photos or not, so just be sure to check the “recipe image” and “instruction images” buttons and you’ll get them.

    • Reply
      Sharon
      July 10, 2021 at 6:20 pm

      I use the Snipping Tool in Microsoft Windows (access through the Start menu) to capture any image, and then paste it to a Word doc before printing and saving to my computer. I’m still using Windows 7 so it may be a little different in newer versions.

  • Reply
    Blanche
    July 10, 2021 at 8:06 am

    5 stars
    Hi Sue,
    I greatly appreciate you sharing these wonderful recipes and great gift of talent. This recipe looks so good! I will definitely make this chiffon cake. Is it possible to give me the brand of tube pan that you use?
    Thank you very much.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 10, 2021 at 8:28 am

      Thanks Blanche, and I link to the exact pan in the post, just click on the green link in the recipe… it’s Chicago Metallic, and it works really good. I like the little ‘legs’!

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