I just love this cake; made 6 in 10 days, ordered new and vintage tins from the US, OMG am obsessing, love this cake! Ignoring the quibbles over frosting versus "naked" this is the only cake my entire family like. It was an almost accidental discovery.
I was happily tasked with making a cake for Mr B's wonderful grandfather's 95th birthday lunch, yes that's 95 years! We invited Pa over for lunch, he politely ate the most awful pasta dish I have ever produced while I quizzed him on cake preferences; turns out he's not really into cake. Hmmm. His favourite dessert is lemon tart which naturally morphed into a dessert smorgasbord, any excuse to bake right? Jaffarons (choc orange macarons), marshmallows and lemon tarts, but I still needed a cake.
Mr B has a large family, and thinking back over the many family get togethers I remembered his grandmother making angel food and chiffon cakes. A quick facebook post sourced a tin, a loan from a friend that came with a warning "it was left to me from my grandmother's estate so maybe don't lose it :)"
I started researching. I experimented with flavours and recipes, had 2 cakes seemingly inexplicably fall out of the tin during the cooling phase, transforming into completely unsalvageable, eggy mounds; those bizarre instructions about not greasing or lining the tin really are important! It's definitely worth sourcing a specific angel food cake tin; a tall, not non stick tube pan with 3 feet for the cake to stand on, inverted, while it cools. This orange version is slightly adapted from the Joy of Baking and topped with a simple orange glaze. Chiffon cakes have the prettiest batter and the most amazing texture; light, moist, not too sweet and a little bit addictive...
I love that this cake it not a "fad", that it has history, was invented by an insurance salesman in the twenties, kept a closely guarded secret for 20 years then released to the public in the forties, in a Betty Crocker pamphlet; how much would l like an original copy of that! I love that people will tell you their grandmother made them and they still have her tin, and perversely I like those first few minutes when the cake is inverted and I wonder if it's going to hit the bench and deflate in a heap...
Orange Chiffon Cake
6 eggs, separated
1 extra egg white
225g plain cake flour*
250g caster sugar
50g extra caster sugar
1tbsp baking powder
zest of one orange, grated super finely
180ml freshly juiced orange juice
120ml canola oil, or similar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
* in Australia look out for the Lighthouse brand in the blue and white box "biscuit, pastry and cake low protein plain flour" take care not to buy the pizza flour by mistake...
• preheat your oven to 170ºC
• combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt, sift into a large bowl (use a stand mixer, if you have one, with the paddle attachment) add the 250g caster sugar and orange zest, mix to combine
• make a well in the centre of your flour combo, add the orange juice, egg yolks, oil and vanilla extract, mix until smooth
• in another, really large bowl (!) whisk the 7 egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar then mix until you have soft peaks (the cream of tartar is not essential, not an issue if you can't find it, but it does stabilise the egg whites) gradually add the additional 50g caster sugar, whisking until you have firm peaks and the sugar has dissolved
• fold the egg whites into the batter in three stages, you might need to carefully tip the batter into the egg whites after the first addition if your mixer bowl is not big enough
• pour the batter into an ungreased, unlined angel food cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes
• remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert to cool, if your tin doesn't have "feet" you'll need to rig something up to elevate your upside down cake while it cools, good luck with that...
• when completely cool, run a sharp knife around the inside and the centre section of the cake tin, invert the cake onto your serving plate
• pour the frosting over the cake, allowing it to run down the sides
• slice giant slabs of cake with a serrated knife and enjoy!
• the cake will keep in an airtight container for 3 days at room temperature or up to a week in the fridge, tends to only last a couple of days in my house :)
250g icing sugar
40ml freshly juiced orange juice, you may need a little more
• melt the butter in a small pan, remove from heat, sift in the icing sugar and enough juice to make a pouring consistency, beat until smooth and lump free
if you have any chiffon stories please share them below...