My favorite kind of cake is the one that needs no baking soda or baking powder to rise and become fluffy. In the case of this lemon chiffon cake, the beaten egg white does all the heavy lifting. It’s also this natural leavening agent that creates the fluffy texture in this cake. How tasty and wonderful right?
Lemon chiffon cake has a citrusy flavor that makes it taste so light and refreshing. The inclusion of poppy seeds adds a crunchy texture to this fluffy sponge cake. And of course, lemon poppy seed is a classic flavor combination that I crave every now and then. Having said that, the addition of poppy seed is not a must here, in case it is not available in your country.
The step for scoring this cake halfway through the baking is also optional. But keep in mind that chiffon cake is bound to crack on top. The taste will be as delicious so I only do this step when I care about the appearance.
Points to consider when making chiffon
- Meringue (beaten egg white) plays an important role in chiffon. So make sure the bowl and the whisk for whipping egg white are perfectly clean with no residue or oil. The separated egg white should have no trace of broken egg yolk either. Otherwise, it will not whip properly to a stiff peak.
- Try not to overmix the meringue with the cake batter as it will deflate and result in a dense cake. I find it easier and faster to use a wire whisk to fold the mixture. If the option is to use silicone spatula, find a larger one as it will mix faster than the small one.
- Do not grease the pan because chiffon cake needs to cling onto the pan to rise up tall when baking.
Another citrus cake that you might enjoy: orange upside-down cake
Lemon Chiffon Cake
- 35 g vegetable oil
- 56 g cake flour / low protein flour
- 40 g milk
- 60 g egg yolks (from +- 3 eggs)
- 1 small lemon zested
- ½ tbsp poppy seed (optional)
- 105 g egg white (from +- 3 eggs)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 50 g granulated sugar
- Heat vegetable oil to about 158°F (70°C) then transfer it into a large bowl. Sieve in the flour and mix well with a silicone spatula or wire whisk.
- Mix in the cold milk to bring the temperature down. Then add egg yolks and mix thoroughly.
- Add lemon zest and poppy seed. Do a final mixing then set aside.
- Using a hand mixer, beat egg white and lemon juice until foamy with tiny bubbles. With the mixer running, gradually add sugar in batches. Then continue beating until it becomes stiff peak.
- At this point, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
- Add 1/3 of beaten egg white (meringue) into the yolk batter. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk or silicone spatula.
- Add another 1/3 of meringue. From here on, we want to gently fold the mixture just until no white streaks are visible. Try not to deflate the air inside the meringue.
- Gently fold the final part of meringue until it is 90% mixed. Check the sides and bottom of bowl for any unmixed batter with a silicone spatula. Fold just until combined. Do not overmix as the batter loses its air every time we mix.
- Pour batter into a 6 x 3-inch round pan with loose-bottom. Shake the pan to spread it evenly. Tap the pan onto the counter twice to release any big unwanted bubbles.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- [Optional] Remove the cake from the oven after 20 minutes into the baking time or when the top crust has started to form. Using a knife, score the top to make 6 equal wedges and try to do this within a minute. Immediately return into the oven to continue baking.
- Once the cake is out of the oven, place it upside down to cool completely. I do this by letting the edges of cake pan sit on the edges of 3 cups without touching the cake.
- Before unmolding the cake, run a spatula along the outside edges of cake. Serve and enjoy!