March 29th is National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day. A recipe that isn’t seen much anymore, it was a favorite of our mother’s. She baked them in a tube pan and garnished the light, lemony slices with sliced strawberries and whipped cream. We prefer the lemon glaze and candied lemon peel in the recipe below.
LEMON CHIFFON CAKE HISTORY
According to General Mills, the chiffon cake, invented in 1927, was the first new cake to come along in 100 years. (One might dispute that—the brownie debuted within 30 years prior to it, although it is classified as a bar cookie and not cake. Digging through culinary history will no doubt produce other challengers.)
The secret of this fluffy cake are two: That egg whites are beaten separately from the yolks, and the recipe uses vegetable oil instead of butter or conventional shortening. Using oil as the fat enables the cake to be refrigerated without hardening.
Chiffon cake was invented by the aptly named Harry Baker, a Los Angeles insurance agent, who sold the cakes to the Brown Derby restaurant and to Hollywood stars.
In 1947, Baker sold the recipe to General Mills, and it created a sensation when it was published in the May 1948 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
For this recipe, you’ll need a 7-inch tube pan.
The recipes for the lemon zest glaze and the candied lemon peel follow.
*Regular cake flour, not self-rising.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F
2. SIFT together the flour, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar. Set aside.
3. WHISK together the egg yolks, vegetable oil, 1/3 cup water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add to the sifted dry ingredients; beat until smooth.
4. BEAT the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.
5. ADD gradually the remaining tablespoon of sugar; beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
6. FOLD egg-white mixture into the batter slowly, 1/3 at a time. Add batter to an ungreased tube pan. Using an offset spatula, smooth the top. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake is golden, about 45 minutes.
7. REMOVE cake from the oven. Invert the pan over a wine bottle for 2 hours to cool. Remove and run a knife between the cake and the pan; invert again, and remove the cake.
8. GARNISH as desired: Dust the plain cake with confectioners’ sugar before serving, or serve with whipped cream. We like to drizzle the cake with the lemon zest glaze below.
1. COMBINE the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well blended.
2. DRIZZLE over the top of the cooled cake.
1. WASH lemons, pat dry, and remove the fruit pulp and as much of the white pith as you can. Cut peel into slices 1/4 inch wide.
2. BOIL water in a small pan; add peel strips. Boil for 5 minutes, until tender.
3. REMOVE peels from water and whisk in the sugar until dissolved. Return water to a boil; add peels and boil until syrup absorbs into the peel.
4. DRAIN cooked peel on paper towels. After they dry, you can store them in an airtight jar for a week.
You can also use this recipe for candied grapefruit and orange peel.