Citrus Chiffon Cake

IMG_5510

Because chiffon cakes rely on egg whites rather than gluten to rise, they work like a dream even when gluten free.  This citrus chiffon cake is light and fluffy and tastes like you made it with ordinary cake flour.

Baking Notes:

  • Use fresh eggs, because the egg whites will fluff up more when beaten.
  • Separate the eggs when cold, then allow the whites to come to room temperature before beating them.
  • The original recipe calls for Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour, but I used the Trader Joe’s variety and it worked great.
  • The citrus flavor of the cake is subtle, so either use the marmalade filling or eat the cake plain.  Only frosting with whipped cream will wash out the cake’s citrus flavor and make the whole thing taste plain.
  • The gluten-free cake dries out fast compared to regular cake, so if you won’t finish eating it the day it’s made, you should definitely frost it with whipped cream to keep it moist.

Original recipe (for a plain chiffon cake)

Citrus Chiffon Cake
Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill

Yield: 8″ three-layer cake + 1 extra layer to eat yourself OR 10″ tube pan cake

For the cake:

  • 7 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flavorless oil, such as canola
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons grated citrus zest (lemon, orange, cutie/clementine…)

For the whipped cream frosting:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup marmalade
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and set aside two 8″ round baking pans OR 10″ tube pan OR angel food pan.  If using round cake pans, line them with aluminum foil to make cake removal easier.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup sugar.  Set aside.
  3. In a clean large bowl, beat yolks, milk, oil, vanilla extract, and zest until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture to yolk mixture and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes with an electric mixer.
  5. In a separate large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar and cream of tartar until stiff and glossy.
  6. Add a large scoop of the whipped egg whites to the cake batter and mix gently but thoroughly to lighten the batter.
  7. Add the remaining egg whites in 3 additions.  Gently fold into the batter using a large wire whisk, making sure to scrape down the bottom of the bowl frequently.
  8. Divide batter between pans and gently smooth tops with a rubber spatula.
  9. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes without opening the oven door during this time. Increase heat to 350°F and bake an additional 15-20 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or when the surface springs back immediately after pressing on it with a finger.
  10. As soon as you remove cakes from oven, lay 2 thick wooden spoon handles (or chopsticks) across the top of each pan and place a shallow bowl upside down on top of the handles/chopsticks.  Invert each arrangement and cool cakes completely upside down.  This step is important, because otherwise the cakes will sink.  It looks like this:
    IMG_5434
  11. Unmold cakes carefully, because they are fragile, and slice each in half horizontally.  Use the 3 nicest layers for the cake, and save the 4th to eat yourself.  (The cake tastes just as good plain.  Alternatively, you could make a really tall four-layer cake, or 2 two-layer cakes.)
  12. Using a mixer on medium speed, beat together heavy cream and powdered sugar until whipped cream holds stiff peaks.
  13. Scoop 1 1/2-2 cups frosting into a small bowl, and fold in 1/3 cup marmalade to make the filling.
  14. Place one cake layer cut side down on a serving plate and spread with 1/2 of the filling.  Top with the second layer cut side down and spread with the rest of the filling.  Top with the third layer, cut side up.
  15. Frost first the sides and then the top of the cake with remaining whipped cream.
  16. Refrigerate the cake if you’re not serving it the same day.
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