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Recipe

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

Mark Davidson

Yield: Yields two 8-inch round cakes

Light, fluffy, and moist, chiffon cake is classically made with separated eggs and uses oil as the fat. The secret to this cake is to divide the eggs, whip the whites, and fold them into the batter to lighten it. A true chiffon cake is made with only oil, but the flavor of butter just can’t be beat, so this version combines the two. This recipe scales well to produce multi-tiered cakes: to make a 6-inch tier, halve the recipe and bake it in two 6-inch pans. To make a 10-inch tier, scale the recipe up to 1-1/2 times the batter, and bake it in two 10-inch pans.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour; more for the pans
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 large egg whites

Preparation

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 8-inch round pans with cooking spray and flour them.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, melted butter, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Once combined, whisk in the buttermilk. (The buttermilk goes in last so that it doesn’t cause the melted butter to coagulate and create lumps.)
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer or a hand-held whisk), whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and fold them together with a rubber spatula until combined.
  • Using the spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter in three batches. Take care not to deflate the egg whites or overmix the batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the cakes to a rack to cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. To invert, run a knife or thin metal spatula around the edge of one cake to help loosen it. Invert the cake onto a plate. Remove the cake pan. Place a cake plate on top of the cake, and invert it again so the cake plate is on the bottom. Repeat for the other cake. Let the cakes cool completely before filling, frosting, or storing.

Make Ahead Tips

Once cool, the unfrosted cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Blueberry-Lemon Chiffon Cake
Before folding in the egg whites, stir in 1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon zest (from about 1 large lemon) and 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries. (The small wild Maine blueberries are ideal, frozen or fresh when available.)

Ginger Chiffon Cake
Before folding in the egg whites, stir in 1 Tbs. ground ginger and 1/4 cup ginger preserves. (Ginger preserves are available in the jam aisle of most grocery stores.)

Orange-Clove Chiffon Cake
Before folding in the egg whites, stir in 2 Tbs. orange zest (from about 1 orange) and 1/2 tsp. ground cloves.

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