Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Combining egg whites and sugar all at once yields a dense but stable meringue, with an explosive rise.
  • Whipping the meringue in stages creates a fine network of air cells for a more delicate crumb.
  • Carbonated water lightens the dense paste of egg yolks, oil, and flour to minimize deflation of the meringue.
  • Cooling upside down harnesses gravity to enhance, rather than limit, the cake's structure as it cools.

Chiffon is a quintessentially American cake, similar toangel food but delicately rich thanks to the addition of both egg yolks and oil. Chiffon was all the rage in the 1940s and 50s, but its popularity waned as American bakers embraced the increasingly rich and fluffyall-butter layer cakesof the modern era.

Now it's seen as something of a retro throwback, but I think it's a shame chiffon ever went out of style. I'm all about obscenely rich and buttery cakes, but I also believe that desserts should always work in service of the meal. And when summer barbecues mean loading up on hamburgers, potato chips, and mac and cheese, there's something to be said for the lightness of chiffon. It's soft and tender, with airiness reminiscent of angel food cake, but a sweetness that's far more mellow.

Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (1)

The Best Pan for Chiffon Cake

Like angel food cake, chiffon cake needs to be baked in a pan that gives the batter plenty of room to rise and is designed to allow the cake to cool upside down. For these reasons, it's often baked in a two-piece aluminum tube pan. But as long as those two needs are met, it can actually be baked in classic round layers, as well—another reason I love baking with eight- by three-inch anodized aluminum cake pans, which are tall enough to support even the most delicate chiffon cake as it bakes and cools (a feat that could never be accomplished in the shallow, tapered, non-stick pans that tragically dominate American kitchens. For more info, check out ourcake pan review).

Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (2)

Mixing Chiffon Cake

Chiffon is traditionally made much like an angel food cake, with sugar added to the egg whites in careful additions to make an extra-foamy meringue, while the egg yolks are whisked into a thick batter with water, oil, and flour. The two batters are then combined and baked. It's hard to improve on such a modern technique, but a few subtle tweaks make the process a little easier.

To start, I make the meringue with the same left-of-center technique I call for in my recipe for angel food. I start by combining plain ortoasted sugarwith the egg whites and vanilla extract up front. Then I whip the meringue in stages, adding salt and lemon juice along the way.

Instead of whipping the meringue to stiff peaks, I stop when the mixture is relatively soft and loose, but still thick enough to run off the whisk and mound up on itself like soft serve in the bowl. It's a fast and foolproof method that streamlines the process and creates a foam that's more about stability than fluff. This eliminates the risk of over-whipping, a state of affairs that can cause the cake to collapse, and gives the meringue the elasticity that fluffier foams lack, helping it to rise in the oven like a hot air balloon.

Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (3)

While the meringue is whipping, I prepare the second batter by whisking the egg yolks with water, oil, and flour. But instead of plain water, I use club soda to further lighten and aerate the batter. If you're feeling fancy, sparkling liquids like champagne, ginger ale, and beer can be used to add a subtle layer of flavor to the cake. Just be forewarned: that nuanced flavor can sometimes turn a little tangy or weird in the oven, so it's best to start with club soda and save experimental options for a low-stakes occasion.

Because of the batter's high moisture content, it's essential to use a low-protein all-purpose flour. My favorite all-purpose flour is Gold Medal, a blend of soft white wheat and hard red wheat that strikes the perfect balance of protein and starch for a light and tender cake. That said, any brand with a similar formula will work well, too. Just steer clear of those made from 100% hard red wheat, a protein-heavy style that will readily form gluten in a high-moisture batter, making the cake dense and tough (this is why mostno-knead breads call for lots of water and a hard red wheat flour; those conditions are so beneficial to gluten development, a baker barely needs to stir).

Once the batter is smooth, add a third of the soft meringue and use a balloon whisk to gently combine—otherwhisk stylesmay deflate the batter, so use the right tool for the job! Starting with a little meringue will loosen the comparatively stiff yolk-batter, and make it easier to fold in the remaining meringue. For that, you'll want to use a flexible spatula to scrape and fold the batter. Use a gentle hand and keep at it until the batter has a uniform color, but don't keep folding more than needed to meet that goal.

Pour the batter into one 10-inch aluminum tube pan, or divide it between two eight- by three-inch anodized aluminum cake pans. Do not grease or line the pans in any way! The cake needs traction to both rise and cool, so we don't want to do anything that would help it slip free, which would cause it to lose volume as it bakes and when it cools.

Cooking, Cooling, and Removing Cake From Its Pan

Bake at 350°F (180°C) until the cakes are puffed, golden brown, and firm to the touch, but with an outer crust that's still a little soft and puffy rather than dry; about 55 minutes for the tube pan, or 40 minutes for the eight-inch layers.

In either case, flip the pan(s) upside down to cool. That's why it's essential the layer cake pans are at least three inches deep—shallower pans will allow the batter to dome above the rim and prevent this essential cooling technique. Tube pans should have little stilts to support this cooling procedure, or else an extra-long tube that can be fit over a bottle to loft it up instead.

Once the chiffon has fully cooled, removing it from the pan takes a little care. For a tube cake, you'll want to run an offset spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, and then lift it out by the center tube. You can loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan in the same way, then invert it onto a serving platter and free it from the center tube with a gentle tug.

To remove layer cakes from their pans, use an offset spatula to gently pry the cake away from the bottom of the pan, working bit by bit to loosen small sections at a time. Once you've made your way around the pan, the whole thing will fall out on its own when inverted; if it's stubborn, you can gently pull it out by hand.

Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (4)

Serving Chiffon Cake

Because chiffon is so soft and delicate, it's best served plain, à la mode, or with a simple whipped cream frosting. Merely trying to apply a heavier buttercream style can crush the cake flat—chiffon is just that delicate.

Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (5)

Whatever the presentation, I like to keep things simple and serve chiffon with nothing more than a pile of fresh fruit, a handful of sprinkles, or a scattering of candied citrus or crystallized violets.

Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (6)

Chiffon cake is best served at room temperature soon after assembly, and should be cut with a serrated knife. If you use a gentle sawing motion and almost no downward pressure, it will be as if the weight of the blade itself is causing it to fall through the cake. Applying strong downward pressure can crush and compress the cake, especially if the knife is even slightly dull. But with a sharp knife and a gentle touch, you'll be cutting and serving the dreamiest pieces of airy chiffon.

Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (7)

Wrapped in plastic, leftovers can be kept a day or two in the fridge, but be sure to let the chiffon cake come to room temperature before serving, or it may seem dry and dense. Better yet, seize the day and don't let the sun set on your chiffon—devour it before bed.

April 2018

Recipe Details

Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe

Active15 mins

Total3 hrs


For the Cake:

  • About 8 ounces (225g) egg whites, plus or minus 1/2 ounce (15g), from 6 to 8 large eggs

  • 10 ounces plain ortoastedsugar (about 1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon; 285g)

  • 3/4 ounce vanilla extract(about 4 1/2 teaspoons; 20g)

  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice(about 4 1/2 teaspoons; 20g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • About 4 ounces (115g) egg yolk, plus or minus 1/2 ounce (15g) from 6 to 8 large eggs

  • 4 ounces neutral oil, such as safflower (shy 1/2 cup; 115g)

  • 6 ounces cold seltzer or club soda, not tonic water (about 3/4 cup; 170g)

  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (about 2 cups, spooned; 255g)

To Serve:

  • 5 ounces plain ortoastedsugar (shy 3/4 cup; 140g)

  • Heaping 1/8 teaspoon (0.6 g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or more to taste; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 16 ounces heavy cream (about 2 cups; 450g)

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12ml)vanilla extract

  • Fresh fruit, sprinkles, crystallized violets, or other garnishes, as desired


  1. For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Combine egg whites, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low speed to loosen, about 1 minute, then increase speed to medium-low (4 on a KitchenAid) and whip 3 minutes; the whites will be dense and dark.

    Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (8)

  2. With the mixer still running, add lemon juice and salt. Immediately increase to medium (6 on a KitchenAid) and whip 3 minutes longer; the meringue will be thin but foamy. Add baking powder and increase to medium-high (8 on a KitchenAid) and continue whipping until the meringue is glossy white and thick enough that you can see the pattern left by the wire whisk, but rather runny overall. This can take between 1 and 3 minutes, depending on the freshness of the whites and the horsepower of your mixer.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, oil, club soda, and all-purpose flour together until smooth. Pour a third of the meringue into the yolk mixture, and gently whisk until hom*ogeneous and smooth. Pour in the remaining meringue, and fold with a flexible spatula until well combined, with a uniform color. Do not continue mixing any more than strictly necessary.

    Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (9)

  4. Scrape the soft batter into a 10-inch aluminum tube pan (do not butter or grease it in any way; do not use a nonstick pan), or two 8- by 3-inch anodized aluminum cake pans (do not line with parchment or use shallow pans). Bake until the cake is puffed, golden blonde, and firm to the touch, about 55 minutes for a 10-inch tube or 40 minutes for two 8-inch layers.

    Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (10)

  5. Turn the hot pan(s) upside down and cool until absolutely no trace of warmth remains, at least 2 hours. Slide an offset spatula around the sides of cake(s) to loosen. For a tube pan, remove the insert and then slide the spatula under the bottom as well. For the 8-inch cakes, stand the cake pan on its side, and slide an offset spatula between the cake and the side of the pan, and gently pull to loosen the cake from the bottom; rotate the pan and continue all the way around the edges. Proceed immediately to the next step, as the cakes will dry with exposure to air.

    Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (11)

  6. To Serve: Combine sugar, salt, cream, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Mix on low for a minute to help dissolve the sugar, then whip on medium-high until the cream can hold stiff peaks; about 4 minutes. Use as a frosting for the chiffon, or to serve in dollops alongside each slice, along with fresh fruit, sprinkles, candied flowers, or whatever toppings you prefer. Wrapped tightly in plastic, the frosted chiffon can be refrigerated up to 24 hours; return to room temperature before serving.

    Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (12)


For a more flavorful frosting, a 1.5x batch of fruity whipped cream is perfect for filling and/or frosting the chiffon cake, whether in layer or tube cake form.

Special Equipment

Stand mixer, flexible spatula, one 10-inch two-piece anodized aluminum tube pan or two 8-inch anodized aluminum cake pans, offset spatula

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Classic Chiffon Cake With Vanilla Chantilly Recipe (2024)


What is the difference between a chiffon cake and a regular cake? ›

Chiffon cake is a type of sponge cake that is characterized by its light and soft texture. Unlike traditional sponge cakes, which are made with or without butter, chiffon cakes are always made with oil. This gives them a tender, moist crumb and makes them lighter and more delicate than other types of cake.

Should eggs be at room temperature for chiffon cake? ›

Tips from our Bakers. Separate the eggs carefully; even a small amount of yolk in the whites will prevent them from beating up properly. The eggs separate most easily when cold, but allow them to come to room temperature before mixing, for best volume in the egg whites.

Why should you not grease the cups for chiffon cake? ›

The reason we do not grease our (preferably aluminum) cake pans for chiffon is because the batter needs to adhere to the side of the pan, ensuring it rises properly. If you were to spray the cake pan with cooking spray, the chiffon would likely bake up flat, dense, and not at all airy and light as we are going for.

Can I use a regular cake pan for chiffon cake? ›

I've made many chiffon cakes and I've never actually used a tube pan as I don't own one! Turning the cake over is absolutely essential, and you can turn just about any pan over as long as it has a fixed bottom or one that locks into place like a springform pan.

What is an interesting fact about chiffon cake? ›

Five Fun Facts:
  1. The chiffon cake was invented in 1927 by Harry Baker, a California insurance salesman turned caterer. ...
  2. Chiffon cakes tend to be lower in saturated fat than butter cakes, potentially making them healthier than their butter-heavy counterparts.
Mar 29, 2012

Does chiffon cake have to be baked in a tube pan? ›

While you can bake a chiffon cake in a regular cake pan, a tube pan helps yield a chiffon cake with the lightest texture. The tube in the middle is so the cake can climb up to make for a tall and fluffy cake.

What kind of pan is best for chiffon cake? ›

A classic chiffon cake is baked in a tube pan. These are like bundt tins but have flat sides and a flat base – something I will discuss later. The pan provides several elements which are essential for a successful chiffon cake. The most important thing is to not line the tin, either with butter or parchment paper.

How do you know when a chiffon cake is done? ›

They will rise very high, then shrink down to almost the level of the pan. This is a sign your cake is done. You can double check with a skewer (no crumbs should come out) or the internal temp of the cake (around 205-210 °F/96-99 °C).

Can you bake a chiffon cake in a springform pan? ›

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9" or 10" springform pan with parchment. To make the cake: In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and salt. Whip until the yolks are light and lemon-colored, then gradually drizzle in the oil with the mixer running at high speed.

Can you use parchment paper to make chiffon cake? ›

Using parchment paper is a good idea. Chiffon and sponge cakes need to adhere to the sides of the pan since their structure is too weak to support the cake while warm.

Can you use bundt pan for chiffon cake? ›

Recipes that specifically call for a tube pan and use whipped egg whites for a light and fluffy batter should not be baked in a Bundt pan. The cake may not rise properly, and an airy angel food or chiffon cake will stick in the intricate crevices of the pan, resulting in a messy-looking cake when you remove it.

Should chiffon cake batter be placed in well grease pans? ›

You cannot use a non-stick pan to make chiffon cake as the wall is too slippery for the batter to cling to the sides and center of the chiffon cake pan in order to rise higher. Do not grease: For the same reason, you do not need to grease the cake pan.

Why does chiffon cake have a hole in the middle? ›

(Traditionally, these cakes are baked in chiffon cake pans. They look like a giant metal donut with a big hole in the middle to facilitate even heat transfer when baking.)

How is chiffon cake different from other special type of cakes? ›

Chiffon cake is a hybrid between a sponge cake and a butter cake. Unlike most sponges, chiffon cake does contain both baking powder and oil; however, like a sponge cake, chiffon cakes are built on a foundation of separated, whipped egg whites and yolks.

What does a chiffon cake taste like? ›

A chiffon cake is a super light and fluffy cake made with a meringue base. The texture is airy and cloud-like with a subtle sweetness and flavour. Chiffon cakes are similar to angel food cakes, however are a little richer in flavour and darker in colour as they use whole eggs rather than just egg whites.

Are chiffon cakes healthier? ›

Chiffon cakes are lower in calorie as compared to other cakes as it's made of very little flour and oil.

What ingredient is in chiffon cake but not angel food cake? ›

Sponge and angel food cake and, to a lesser extent, chiffon cake have high proportions of egg, sugar, and liquid to cake flour. Fat is used only in chiffon cake, which is made with salad oil (Table 26-1).


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