Beautiful Orange Chiffon Cake: Fresh & Zesty Citrus Flavour!

13 comments All Recipes, Cake Recipes, Light Bites
Tender, fluffy and rich with citrus flavours, orange chiffon cake is a delightful treat that is sure to please! This cake is loaded with freshly squeezed juices and grated zest of oranges, as well as lemons, making this treat tangy and not too sweet.
Orange chiffon cake whole, on a serving plate

This is the fourth update in my series on chiffon cakes, and I’m pleased to have this beautiful orange chiffon cake post refreshed with an improved recipe, new photos and a step-by-step visual guide.

Do you love cakes with light and tart flavours? I really have a thing for tart, citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes. So, no small surprise that orange flavoured cakes are one of my all-time favourite kinds of cake to eat.

The orange chiffon cake was also the first cake I ever learnt to bake in culinary school so it brings me many wonderful memories. I always feel good and happy when I start putting the ingredients for this cake together.

I’ve been seeing loads of fresh Navel oranges everywhere I turn these past few weeks, so it didn’t take long before I was carting a bag home from the grocer’s. Just in time for this post update!

About this orange chiffon cake recipe

Orange chiffon cake slice, on a serving plate

With this orange chiffon cake recipe, you are guaranteed a super light and delicious treat! You’re probably here because like me, you love the ultra fluffy and airy texture of a chiffon cake.

Chiffon cakes are really second to none in the family of sponge cakes, and you’ll often find it very hard to stop at just a slice.

Here’s why I love this orange chiffon cake:

  • Intense orange flavour. I did not hold anything back when it came to the flavour! There’s loads of fresh orange juice, with an added splash of lemon juice to punctuate the citrus notes.
  • Super fragrant and zesty. There’s generous amounts of orange and lemon zest, which really intensifies the citrus notes and elevates this cake to a higher level of tangy, zesty deliciousness. All that zest also makes this cake smell heavenly!
  • Light, airy, and super fluffy! This orange chiffon cake is so light, a slice or two is not going to feel enough.
  • Ultra moist and tender crumb. The ratio of ingredients in this recipe are just right, promising a moist and soft-as-cotton texture in every bite. You will feel like the cake crumb is literally melting in your mouth.

A new and improved orange chiffon cake recipe

Tried and tested recipe to help you bake with confidence!

You may not realise this, but whenever I commit to writing a recipe, there’s a lot of testing and re-testing that goes on in my kitchen.

I don’t ever post a recipe on the fly, just to be sure that it wasn’t a success by happenstance. But most of all, because I really want the recipe to work for all of you!

So, just updating this recipe took three test bakes before I was satisfied that it turns out consistent baking results. However, having aimed for this, bakes still can go wrong for any number of reasons.

How we whip up the egg whites, fold the meringue, including how our ovens behave and the humidity of our environment, can affect our bakes.

Orange chiffon cake

In the section below, I’ll try to cover the most common issues with baking chiffon cakes and how best to avoid them.

However, if you tried my previous orange chiffon recipe and loved that too, do get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to send that recipe over to you.

Ingredients for orange chiffon cake

Orange chiffon cake ingredients

For the batter:

  • Cake flour (here’s how you can make cake flour from scratch)
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Egg yolks
  • Caster sugar
  • Orange juice (I use fresh-squeezed, strained to remove the pulp)
  • Lemon juice (also fresh-squeezed and strained)
  • Grated Orange zest
  • Grated Lemon zest
  • Neutral-flavoured oil

For the meringue:

  • Egg whites
  • Cream of tartar (I substituted with lemon juice, though I do find cream of tartar creates a much more stable meringue)
  • Caster sugar
Orange chiffon cake whole, on a serving plate

Step-by-step: How to make orange chiffon cake

Chiffon cakes have two parts to making the batter. The first is the meringue, which is a stiffly beaten mixture of egg whites and sugar. Sometimes, it’s stabilised with cream of tartar or lemon juice.

The second is the batter, which is made with eggs yolks, liquids such as water, milk, or fruit juices, as well as sugars, oil, flour and leavening agents.

This is where the main flavouring ingredients are concentrated. So, to create specific flavours, you would add them here.

Like powdered spices and herbs, flavoured liquors, extracts, jams, preserves, yogurts, as well as nuts and pastes.

Part 1: Making the batter

  • In a small bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix well, and sift. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar.
  • Whisk until the yolks turns pale and light and the sugars have dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the oil, orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest, and lemon zest.
  • Add the sifted flour mixture in two lots. Mix with the whisk until well incorporated. The batter should be smooth and free of lumps.

Part 2: Whipping up the meringue

  • In a clean and dry mixer bowl, tip in the egg whites and sprinkle over with cream of tartar (I substituted with lemon juice, however, cream of tartar creates a more stable meringue).
  • With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed (I use speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid) until the egg whites become frothy.
  • Without stopping the mixer, add the sugar in small portions. Whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks. The meringue should look fine, smooth and glossy.

How to test for stiff peaks
When you lift up the whisk, check to see if the meringue stands straight and firm, with the tip drooped over like a hook. Just to be sure, gently tip your bowl over to invert it. Should the meringue shift or slide a bit, it’s not stiff enough yet. If it stays fixed to the bowl in an inverted position, it’s stiff.

Part 3: Folding the meringue into the batter

The most important aspect of folding the meringue into the batter is to mix with a light and quick, but gentle hand.

Even a perfectly whipped meringue can’t compensate for an over worked batter, as it will lose its volume and start to deflate. Get this right, and you’re almost guaranteed an airy and fluffy chiffon cake!

  • Start by stirring in of the meringue. This is what it means to ‘lighten the batter“. To incorporate well, fold with a whisk until the meringue is no longer visible and the batter looks homogeneous.
  • Fold in the next ⅓ of the meringue. This time, you need to use a light but quick and gentle hand so as not to break the air bubbles.
  • Finally, add the remaining ⅓ of the meringue. Again, keep it light and quick so that you don’t lose those air bubbles! Make sure to fold until no streaks of meringue can be seen.
  • The cake batter should feel light and foamy and have a homogeneous appearance throughout.

Part 4: Filling the pan and baking

Gently pour the batter into the tube pan from one position, letting the batter spread to fill the pan. Level the batter and smooth the surface with a spatula.

Then run a bamboo skewer or chopstick through the batter and give the pan a few taps on the counter to minimise air pockets in the batter.

Bake on the lowest rack in the preheated oven at 160°C (320°F) for anywhere between 50 to 55 minutes, or until completely baked through.

I do not recommend opening the oven door, even if it’s just to take a quick peek. Unlike commercial ovens, home ovens are sensitive to sudden drafts which can affect the baking temperature.

If you need to, only do so about 5 minutes before the end of baking, to check if the cake is done. When a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, the cake can be removed from the oven.

And don’t worry if you see a bit of cracking on the surface of the cake as it bakes. It’s perfectly fine! That cracked top is going to be on the bottom when you serve it, anyway because chiffon cakes are served ‘upside-down’.

Inverting a chiffon cake pan once out  of the oven

Part 5: Inverting and cooling

Immediately invert the pan over cups of equal height once it is removed from the oven. Let it ‘hang’ until completely cooled.

To remove, run an offset spatula gently around the sides of the pan. Invert the cake to free it from the sides of the pan. Then run the spatula around the base to release the funnel.

Chiffon cake is usually served ‘upside-down’. Dust with confectioner’s sugar sifted over the cake, and serve with sliced oranges and dollops of Chantilly cream for a delicious tea treat.

Common baking issues and how to avoid them

This section covers the most frequently asked questions I get from my readers over the years. I realise that I couldn’t possibly cover everything here, nor can I anticipate all the issues that might come your way. But I do hope the information, plus the additional tips in the recipe card below, can be a useful reference.

1. Cake rises quickly, but subsequently collapses before the end of baking.

  • Possible causes: Oven temperature was too hot; cake pan was not placed on the lowest rack in the oven; meringue was whipped till too stiff; too much or incorrect leavening used (baking powder, baking soda, or both); inappropriate size of baking pan or wrong type of pan used.
  • How to avoid: Reduce the oven temperature within limits (e.g. by 5-10°C) ; use an oven thermometer to give a more accurate reading of your oven’s internal temperature; whip up meringue to ideal stiff peaks; follow the recipe exactly for how much and which type of leavening to use; use the recommended pan type and size.

2. Cake caved in on itself after removing from the oven.

  • Possible causes: Meringue was not well incorporated causing the cake to lose some stability; baking time was not long enough so the cake was under-baked; cake was not immediately inverted once removed from the oven; cake was released from pan too soon after inverting.
  • How to avoid: Make sure you get a well-mixed, homogeneous batter with an even consistency throughout; baking times are guidelines and can vary from oven to oven, so know your oven and give enough time for the cake to bake through; let the cake cool inverted for at least 30 minutes, or until pan is cool enough to handle with your hands.
Orange chiffon cake whole, on a serving plate

3. Cake did not rise much/ cake has a dense (not fluffy) texture

  • Possible causes: Meringue was under-whipped meaning less than optimal trapped air bubbles; interestingly, meringue whipped too stiff can also result in over-folding or over-working the batter, thereby causing meringue to lose trapped air bubbles; leavening agents have lost efficacy.
  • How to avoid: Whip up meringue to ideal stiff peaks; fold in the meringue with a light and quick hand without breaking air bubbles; test if leavening agents are still active.

4. Cake fell out of the pan when inverted/ cake shrank from the sides of the pan

  • Possible causes: Wrong type of baking pan or non-stick pan was used; cake was under-baked; incorrect ratio of ingredients
  • How to avoid: Use chiffon tube pan for best results; avoid baking in pans with non-stick coating; extend baking time if necessary, and test for doneness; follow the recipe amounts and measure exactly, be sure to differentiate weight measurements from volume, and vice versa.

5. Large holes in the cake crumb

  • Main causes: Meringue was not well incorporated; batter was poured into the pan haphazardly; air pockets were not eliminated.
  • How to avoid: Aim to get a homogeneous batter with an even consistency throughout; pour batter in a continuous flow into the pan from one position; eliminate large air pockets by running a bamboo skewer or chopstick through the batter in the pan, and give the pan a couple of firm taps on the counter top.

Additional useful tips

I’ve included several more useful tips in the recipe card below, which I hope will help you along on your next chiffon cake bake.

Here are more delicious chiffon cakes to inspire your next bake:

Tried this recipe? I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

SAVE THIS RECIPE!

Orange chiffon cake whole, on a serving plate

Orange Chiffon Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Tender, fluffy and rich with citrus flavours, orange chiffon cake is a delightful treat that is sure to please! This cake is loaded with freshly squeezed juices and grated zest of oranges, as well as lemons, making this treat tangy and not too sweet.

Ingredients

For the batter:

  • 7 egg yolks
  • 45 g caster sugar
  • 70 g vegetable oil
  • 120 ml orange juice, fresh-squeezed and strained
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 160 g cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ⅛ tsp salt

For the meringue:

  • 7 egg whites
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar (substitute with 2 tsp lemon juice, if desired)
  • 130 g caster sugar

Instructions

Make the batter:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Position the oven rack on the lowest in the oven.
  2. Have a 24-cm (10-inch) chiffon tube pan ready. DO NOT GREASE.
  3. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest, lemon zest, and oil, with a whisk until until well combined.
  5. Add the sifted flour mixture in 2 additions. Stir with a whisk until all the flour is incorporated and no streaks of flour are visible. The mixture should be thick, smooth and free of lumps.

Make the meringue:

  1. Fit an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. In a dry, grease-free mixer bowl, pour in egg whites and sprinkle cream of tartar (or tip in 2 tsp lemon juice).
  2. Whisk on medium speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid). When the egg whites become frothy, add sugar bit by bit in a steady stream. Whip until stiff peaks form. This may take 5 to 7 minutes, depending on your mixer and speed.


Fold the meringue into the batter:

  1. Add ⅓ of meringue (whipped egg whites with sugar) to the batter. Fold in gently with a whisk until well incorporated.
  2. Add another ⅓ of the meringue and again, fold in gently.
  3. Add the remaining meringue and fold in gently. The final batter should feel light, and have no visible streaks of meringue.
  4. Pour into the chiffon tube pan from one place, and let the batter spread to fill the pan. Smooth and level the surface.
  5. Gently run a bamboo skewer or spatula in an 'S' motion throughout the batter to reduce large air pockets. Give the pan a few taps on the counter top to minimise air pockets.

    Baking and cooling:

    1. Bake on the lowest rack in the oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until done. DO NOT open the oven door. Only do so about 5 minutes before the end of baking, to test if done. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Note: A bit of cracking on the surface of the cake as it bakes is perfectly alright!
    2. Immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Allow it to 'hang' until completely cooled.
    3. To release the cake, run an offset spatula gently around the sides of the pan, pressing against the pan as much as possible.
    4. Then invert the pan again so that the bottom is now facing up. Gently tap or push the pan's base to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then run the spatula around the base to release the funnel.
    5. Chiffon cake is served 'upside-down'.

    Notes

    1. Use the right pan

    Chiffon cakes are best baked in a chiffon tube pan without non-stick coating. DO NOT GREASE THE PAN.

    2. Use the appropriate pan size

    In order for the cake to rise straight and tall, use the appropriate sized pan. When the pan is filled with batter, it should not be more than 3/4 full.

    3. Have ingredients at room temperature, including eggs

    Cold egg whites do not whip up as well, so it won’t trap as much air as egg whites at room temperature.

    4. Whip meringue to the ideal stiffness

    How to test: When you lift the whisk, the meringue should stand straight and firm, with the tip just bent over like a hook. Also, if you gently invert the bowl, the meringue should stay stuck when fully inverted. If it starts to slide or shift a bit, it is not yet at stiff peaks.

    5. Sift powdered ingredients together

    This will give you a smoother and finer cake crumb and enable the cake to rise evenly and uniformly. Sifting helps distribute the leavening agents evenly throughout the flour.

    6. Do all your mixing, stirring and folding with a whisk

    The meringue will incorporate more easily and thoroughly, with minimal loss of volume due to the inherent shape and structure of the whisk. It also helps reduce or eliminate air pockets in the batter.

    7. Invert the chiffon pan once out of the oven

    Once removed from the oven, immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Or if you have tube pan with ‘feet’, invert the pan over a cooling rack. Allow it to ‘hang’ in this position until completely cooled.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 110Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 168mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 4g

    All nutritional values are approximate only.

    Did you make this recipe?

    I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

    13 Comments

    1. Hi Ann, that’s so awesome to hear! Thank you so much for generously sharing, it’s always a pleasure to hear from you! Keep your stories coming, ya? Take care and stay safe!

    2. Hi Celia! It’s me again. I made this last night and it turned out AMAZING! (Dare I say even better than the pandan chiffon, and that was awesome). This recipe is wonderful – thanks again for all the hard work you put into your recipes. Amazing 🙂

    3. Hi Min, always happy to help a motivated baker! For a 6-inch tube pan (for 7-inch, use the amounts in brackets), try this. For the batter: 2 (3) egg yolks; 15 g (20 g) caster sugar; 20 g (30 g) oil; 35 ml (50 ml) orange juice; 1 tsp (1¼ tsp) lemon juice; 2 tsp (2½ tsp) orange zest; 1 tsp (1¼ tsp) lemon zest; 45 g (68 g) cake flour; ¼ tsp (¼ + ⅛ tsp) baking powder; a pinch (⅛ tsp) of baking soda; a pinch (⅛ tsp) of salt; For the meringue: 2 (3) egg whites; ¼ tsp (¼ + ⅛ tsp) cream of tartar; 35 g (55 g) caster sugar.

    4. Hi Celia, is me again… 😅 Can you please share the recipe for a 6 inch mold and a 17cm mold as I would like to try this orange chiffon cake since your Pandan chiffon cake is sooo delicious… I’m still trying to perfect it as I just started baking. Appreciate your help!!

    5. Hi Joyce, sure! For a 8-inch (20-cm) tube pan, try these amounts. For the batter:5 egg yolks; 35 g sugar; 50 g oil; 85 ml orange juice; 2 tsp lemon juice; 1½ tbsp grated orange zest; 2 tsp grated lemon zest; 115 g cake flour; 3/4 tsp baking powder; 1/8 tsp baking soda; pinch of salt. For the meringue:5 egg whites; 1/2 tsp cream of tartar; 90 g sugar.

    6. Hi,

      Can yoh share the recipe for a 7inch or 8inch tin?

      Thank you.

    7. Thanks Celia. The top (base when served) that collapsed is a bit dense but the rest of the cake is soft and fluffy. Will try again and hope to get the perfect chiffon like yours.

    8. Hi Margaret, thank you for trying this cake! I’m trying to understand what happened, but sounds possibly like a case of over-baking or a slightly too hot oven temperature. During baking, the cake should rise nicely to the rim, and the centre of the cake will rise even above the funnel, so the whole surface is dome shaped. It should stay like this when removed, and until inverted. Which means, when the pan is overturned to cool, you should see the cake holding it’s dome shape. If it sinks a bit into itself, that means there’s a slight collapse.

    9. Hi Celia, thanks for sharing your recipe. I followed it to a T. The egg white was whisked to stiff peak (a little curve at the end same as your photo). The side raise nicely to the rim with a small concave in the centre. But the top sank inwards below the rim (became convex) when it was overturned for cooling. Any idea why this happen?

    10. Hi Doris, a Happy New Year, and soon, Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family! Thank you so much for leaving, not one, or two, but three lovely comments on various recipes here that you’ve tried! I really appreciate all the feedback, and am so happy to hear that you’ve been happy with the cooking and baking outcomes! Yayyyy!!! Thank you for the tip on using the freshest oranges for the zest and juice, I’ll definitely update my post soon with your tips and better pics (it was one of my very earliest recipe posts!). Happy baking and cooking for CNY!

    11. Hi Celia
      Happy New Year 2019. I meant to post my comments much earlier but I am a forgetful person. I have baked your Orange Lemon chiffon cake many times and your recipe is perfect as it gives the best chiffon cake I ever made. Thank you for your kindness in sharing. I used the freshest sweet oranges for the juice and the zest and this made a difference to the cake actually. Best regards, Doris

    12. Hi Sarah, thank you for your kind words! I’m so happy that you found some recipe suggestions here to pique your interest! Gosh, you got me thinking about breakfast ideas, which I’m sorely lacking in at this moment. There are some excellent spreads like homemade kaya (coconut egg jam) that would be great with butter and toast, and ooh…pandan chiffon cake is a sure winner for amytime of day, breakfast included! I’ll try to work in more breakfast recipes in the weeks to come, hope you’ll keep coming back, Sarah! If you try something here, please share how it worked out for you, I’d love to hear about it – the good, the bad (let’s hope this doesn’t happen) and the ugly! Have a wonderful weekend! Cheers, Celia

    13. Hi Celia Lim,

      Thank you for sharing so many recipes! They look great and I would really love to start on some of them soon. I am looking for more ideas for breakfast. Would you have any ideas to share?

      Regards,
      Sarah Chua

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