Lemon Chiffon Cake

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
chiffon cake, birthday cake

Lemon Chiffon cake is now on the Important Cakes in My Personal History list.  

Two cakes are an important part of my personal history. I’ve been making the same sour cream pound cake recipe since working in a bakery while a college student at Virginia Tech in the early 1980s. We even made the same recipe during my days with the Martha White test kitchen. There’s nothing special about the recipe and I see it in pretty much every basic cookbook and even on the sugar bag once in awhile. I make so many of them for gifts during the holidays that my Kitchen Aid mixer is permanently crusted with batter. I have to give the mixer a good once over every January. It’s a wonderful cake with a dense velvety texture that never fails to make my friends’ eyes glaze over.  This cake is s one of the few things I make that my kids actually like.  You’ve got to try it buttered and toasted for breakfast.

My other signature cake is the polar opposite, light-as-air angel food cake. About 20 years ago, I married a guy who loves angel food’s cottony texture and that billowy white cloud icing.  His grandmother made him one every year for his birthday.  Then I took over. I even have Nana’s little handwritten index card with her special boiled icing recipe on it.  Talk about a sugar rush. We’re no longer married, but I still make angel food cakes with our daughter for him.  Someday I’ll give her great-grandmother’s index card to her.

So what’s next?  A cake that’s a little of both?  That would be a chiffon cake. It’s a foam cake like the angel food made with a mountain of whipped egg whites. But, like the pound cake, it also uses lots of egg yolks and contains some fat.  But, instead of butter, the fat is oil. And unlike a sponge cake, it calls for leavening.  Pretty much foolproof, I’d say.  I put the chiffon cake in the category “it’s so out it’s in.” Look out, I think we’ll be seeing more of them.


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