Vanilla Chiffon Cake + Tips for the Perfect Chiffon Bake

39 comments All Recipes, Cake Recipes, Light Bites
Make this ultra moist and fluffy vanilla chiffon cake for your everyday treat or a celebratory occasion! This cake is delicious dusted with confectioner’s sugar or frosted with Chantilly cream.
Vanilla Chiffon Cake - Easy Recipe + Tips on How to Get the Perfect Chiffon Cake

I’m going to have to declare May my month for chiffon cakes! This is the third in this series, and I decided to get back to basics with my all-new improved recipe for a pure vanilla chiffon cake.

This vanilla chiffon cake is a real classic. It’s super soft, ultra moist and delightfully tender. It is everything a chiffon cake should be – light as air, super fluffy, and bouncy!

Because the only flavouring ingredient, other than eggs and milk, is vanilla, it’s important to use a good or premium quality vanilla extract over vanilla essence. The flavour of the extract is naturally derived and much more full-bodied.

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

Why try this vanilla chiffon cake recipe?

  • This recipe uses whole eggs. The #1 reason I updated this recipe was because I wanted to use whole eggs, so there wouldn’t be leftover yolks to remember to use up! I mean what was I thinking, using 3 1/2 egg yolks and 3 1/2 egg whites previously! So, here’s to making life easier for all of us!
  • Cake flour is the flour of choice. If you want that fine, smooth, and tender-textured crumb you’ve seen on some chiffon cakes, cake flour is the way to go. Don’t have any? You’ll be happy to know you can make cake flour from scratch at home with all purpose flour and corn starch.
  • Vanilla extract for bolder flavour. Vanilla extract always wins over vanilla essence for a richer, full-flavoured taste. Plus, it’s naturally derived while vanilla essence is chemically synthesised to imitate natural vanilla.

If you are a fan of chiffon cakes, you won’t want to miss the first two recipe updates I worked on earlier this month. This cotton-soft chocolate chiffon cake is truly worth a try. And don’t skip on the most popular chiffon cake on the blog, this no-fail pandan chiffon cake.

What is a chiffon cake?

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

A chiffon cake, named after the chiffon method in cake baking, is a very light and airy cake made with flour, eggs, oil, sugar, leavening agents (baking powder, baking soda), liquids such as water, milk or juices, as well as flavourings.

It is considered a foam cake, which places it in the same category as angel food cakes and sponge cakes. Chiffon cakes sit nicely between the two. It has the light, fluffy texture of an angel food cake, because it relies on aeration from whipped egg whites, usually in action with chemical leaveners, to rise.

But the chiffon cake is much more moist and tender than a sponge cake because oil is the primary fat used in place of butter. As oil is liquid at room temperature, a chiffon cake stays moist and does not easily dry out, compared to other batter cakes.

Ingredients for Vanilla Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cakes have two parts to making the batter. The meringue which is a stiffly beaten mixture of egg whites with sugar, and sometimes stabilised with cream of tartar.

Then, there’s the rest of the ingredients that make up a thick batter made with eggs yolks, liquids (water / milk / juices / extracts), sugars, oil and flour.

Vanilla Chiffon Cake ingredients

For the meringue:

  • Egg whites
  • Sugar
  • Cream of tartar

For the vanilla batter:

  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Oil
  • Egg yolks
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
Vanilla Chiffon Cake

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

Part 1: Make the batter

  • Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Step 2: Stir in the oil, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  • Steps 3 & 4: Add half of the sifted flour mixture. Stir with a whisk until no streaks of flour can be seen.
  • Steps 5 & 6: Add the remaining flour mixture. Stir with a whisk, getting in all the flour sticking to the sides of the bowl until well combined. The mixture should be thick, smooth and free of lumps.

Part 2: Make the meringue

  • Steps 1 & 2: In a dry and grease-free mixer bowl, add egg whites and sprinkle cream of tartar over it. Whip on medium speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid) until it starts to turn frothy.
  • Steps 3 & 4: Add sugar, bit by bit, and continue to whip until stiff peak stage.
  • Steps 5 & 6: Lift the whisk. When the meringue holds its shape and curls just a bit at the tip like a little hook, it is at the ideal stiffness.

Can’t be certain of stiff peaks from looking at the meringue on a whisk? Use a finger! Tap gently on the meringue on the whisk or in the bowl, in a few places. If they hold firm with just a bit of a hook or curl at the tip, they are at the ideal stiff peak stage.

Part 3: Fold the meringue into the batter

  • Steps 1 & 2: Fold in 1/3 of the meringue into the batter, very gently using a whisk.
  • Steps 3 & 4: Fold in the next 1/3 of the meringue, again keeping it gentle and consistent in motion.
  • Steps 5 & 6: Fold in the remaining meringue until well incorporated. The final batter should be light and smooth, without any visible streaks of meringue.

Part 4: Fill the pan and bake

Gently pour the batter into the tube pan from one position, letting the batter spread to fill the pan. Use a spatula and gently run it through the batter to minimise air pockets. Level and smooth the surface.

Give the pan a few gentle taps on the counter. Bake on the lowest rack in the preheated oven at 165°C (329°F) for anywhere between 45 to 50 minutes, or until just done.

Now, it’s really important that you DO NOT open the oven door, even if it’s just to take a quick peek. 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 emerges comes out clean.

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’.

Part 5: Inverting and cooling

Once it is removed from the oven, immediately invert the pan by sitting the funnel over the neck of a bottle. Or, if your tube pan has ‘feet’ like mine, invert it over a cooling rack set a few inches off the counter top. I usually place the rack over two cups or glasses of the same height. Allow it to ‘hang’ until completely cooled.

To remove, run a thin knife or spatula around the edges, pressing against the sides of the pan. Invert the cake to free it from the sides of the pan, tapping the base to help release. Then run the knife or spatula around the base to release the funnel.

Chiffon cake is served ‘upside-down’. Dust with confectioner’s sugar sifted over the cake,

How to make the perfect chiffon cake

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

Because I started out as a self-taught baker, I used to have the hardest time getting chiffon cakes right. I think I’ve had the worst failings, so trust me when I say that I understand the disappointments and frustrations of bakes gone wrong.

That’s why I hope to share as many useful tips as possible on how to perfect your chiffon cake bakes. It is my hope that you’ll find the information especially useful if you are baking one for the first time, or don’t bake chiffon cakes often enough.

1. Use the right pan

Chiffon cakes are best baked in a chiffon tube pan without non-stick coating. This is because the batter needs to cling to the sides of the pan as it rises, which is what gives the cake its height and airy crumb. The best pans are made of aluminium with a removable base.

Baking in dark-tinted pans will give you a darker cake crust, while non-tinted or light-tinted pans will yield a lighter crust, in general. Be careful as dark-tinted pans could also be non-stick, so avoid these for chiffon cakes.

Do not grease the pan, for the same reasons that you would not bake in a non-stick cake pan.

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

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

If you’ve been baking chiffon cakes, you’ll know that getting the meringue at the ideal stiffness is crucial to the final texture. And it can sometimes feel a little tricky, even challenging to get right at first. So here are some tips for how you can recognise the right stiffness for your meringue.

If the meringue is under-whipped, your chiffon cake will lack volume and not rise as much, producing a denser crumb. If over-whipped, the whites will form clumps when you try folding into the batter.

This will also make it harder to break down. Because it takes more effort to incorporate, there’s a tendency to over fold. The bad news is that we’ll overwork the batter, causing the meringue to lose volume. Thus, resulting in a denser cake as well.

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

In fact, even if you manage to fold without losing too much air, an over-whipped meringue is one of the most common reasons why chiffon cakes turn out dry.

The ideal stiff peak stage is somewhere between medium and firm stiffness. How do we recognise that? When you lift some meringue with the whisk (flick away excess), it should hold a firm shape from the base towards the tip, and droop over just a bit. Basically, it looks a bit like a small hook at the tip.

A finger test is equally effective. Use your index finger and sweep up just a little meringue, like how you would try to pick up sauce on your finger. You’ll see the same half-curl or hook at the tip if its at the ideal stiffness.

5. Stir and sift powdered ingredients together

Stir powdered ingredients like cake flour, baking soda or baking powder (or both) and salt so that these are distributed evenly.

Then sift together. This will give you a smoother and finer cake crumb and enable the cake to rise evenly and uniformly.

Remember the cream of tartar is for whipping up the meringue, so do not add it here.

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

I strongly recommend folding with a whisk. I’ve simply found that 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, so you won’t get those big gaping holes in your chiffon cake.

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.

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

How to store chiffon cake

Vanilla chiffon cake will keep well at room temperature for up to 3 days, including the day it is baked. It is best kept in an air-tight container and chilled to extend its freshness.

Have it out at room temperature 20 minutes before, though it’s also really enjoyable when eaten chilled!

Enjoy!

Here are more chiffon/sponge 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!

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Make this ultra moist and fluffy vanilla chiffon cake for your everyday treat or a celebratory occasion! This cake is delicious dusted with confectioner's sugar or frosted with Chantilly cream.

Ingredients

For the batter:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 85 ml milk
  • 3 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla essence
  • 100 g cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

For the meringue:

  • 5 egg whites
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 80 g caster sugar

Instructions

Make the batter:

  1. Preheat oven to 165°C (329°F). Position the oven rack on the lowest in the oven.
  2. Have a 20-cm (8-inch) chiffon tube pan ready. DO NOT GREASE.
  3. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder 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 milk, oil, and vanilla extract or essence. Stir 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 over.
  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.
  5. Gently run a thin spatula in an 'S' motion throughout the batter to reduce large air pockets. Smooth and level the surface. 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 45 to 50 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. When blooming cocoa, remember to allow it cool to room temperature before incorporating it into the rest of the batter.

    4. Whip meringue to the ideal stiffness

    5. Sift powdered ingredients together

    This will give you a smoother and finer cake crumb and enable the cake to rise evenly and uniformly.

    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.

    39 Comments

    1. Hi Chas, this cake needs to be baked in a chiffon pan in order for it to rise evenly and to a nice height. That said, I have baked this in 2 round pans (has to be pans that do not have non-stick coating) for making a layer cake and it was great. It rises well but will collapse slightly in the centre. I don’t grease the pans and do over-turn them when I remove the cakes from the oven. It’s a little tricky to release, but it can work out. You’ll have to try for yourself. Hope this helps!

    2. Hi!
      Is it possible to use a regular round 8-inch springform pan?

    3. Dear Alessandra, thank you so much for writing in! I’m sorry I got a bit behind but if you’re looking to bake this, here are the amounts you can use for a 25-26 cm tube pan – For the batter: 8 egg yolks; 65 g caster sugar; 135 ml milk; 5 tbsp + 1 tsp oil; 1¾ tsp vanilla extract or essence; 160 g cake flour; 1.5 tsp baking powder; ¾ tsp salt. For the meringue: 8 egg whites; ¾ tsp cream of tartar; 130 g caster sugar. Hope this works out for you!

    4. Hi Hill, thank you for writing in. Yes, you can use cold milk.

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