James Beard Award-winning Cookbook Author

Orange Chiffon Cake

What is a chiffon cake?

Chiffon cakes are similar to sponge cakes, but the addition of oil gives them a tender, fine crumb and richer flavor.

How does chiffon cake compare to angel food cake?

While both angel food cake and chiffon cake fall under the foam cake category,  the addition of fat to chiffon cakes creates a richer flavor and crumbier texture.  Angel food cake is the foamiest textured cake with less depth of flavor, but remains sweet and light.

What is the origin of chiffon cakes?

Created in the 1920s, they were hailed as the first new cake in a hundred years.  I adapted this recipe from a 1948 booklet, Betty Crocker Chiffon Cake Recipes and Secrets.

Chiffon cakes, the third member of the foam cake family, are like sponge cakes with the addition of a secret ingredient. They came on the national scene in 1947. Before then, twenty years earlier, Harry Baker earned a reputation for his special cake among Hollywood luminaries. Mr. Baker, an insurance salesman by trade and a cooking hobbyist, would not divulge his recipe. Until, that is, he sold it for an undisclosed sum of money to General Mills. The following year, 1948, “Chiffon cakes became a national obsession” according to Jean Anderson (The American Century Cookbook, 1997). I have a little booklet from 1948, Betty Crocker Chiffon Cake Recipes and Secrets, containing many recipes and variations, icings, and serving suggestions. The booklet’s cover proclaims, “Never before such cakes as these. . . an amazing new cake family!”

Orange Chiffon Cake

Servings 16


  • bundt pan also called a tube pan.


  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, preferably nonaluminum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large orange zest, finely grated
  • 1 large lemon zest, finely grated
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


  • Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 325° F. Have ready a grease-free 10-x-4-inch tube pan with a removable bottom (not nonstick).
  • Place the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, salt, zests, orange juice, extracts, oil, and egg yolks in a large wide bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute, until the batter is smooth. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 4 minutes, or until thick and fluffy. Set aside.
  • In another large bowl, with clean beaters, beat the 8 egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium speed until the whites form peaks that droop and curl softly at their tips when the beaters are raised. Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating for about 15 seconds after each addition. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the whites are shiny and form upright peaks when the beaters are raised, about 1 minute; do not overbeat.
  • Spoon about one fourth of the whites onto the yolks and fold them together with a large rubber spatula until partly combined. Scoop the remaining whites onto the mixture and fold them in gently but thoroughly, only until no whites show. Carefully scrape the batter into the pan.
  • Bake for 55 minutes. Raise the heat to 350° F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the cake is well browned, has a few cracks, and springs back when gently pressed in a few places. Immediately invert the pan onto a narrow-necked bottle. Let cool completely upside down, about 2 hours.
  • Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a narrow thin-bladed knife. Run the knife between the cakes and the central tube. Lift the cake out of the pan by its tube, and release the cake from the bottom of the pan with the knife. Carefully invert the cake onto a square of waxed paper. Cover with a wire rack and invert again so that the cake is right side up. Transfer the cake to a cake plate.
  • To serve, cut with a serrated knife using a gentle sawing motion.

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