This classic chiffon cake bakes up tall, fluffy and moist with swirls of grated chocolate creating a marbled effect throughout the cake. The best!
Did you grow up with them? Did your mom or grandma always bake them? Truth be told, I can’t remember ever having eaten a single bite of a chiffon cake until I made THIS cake. My mom claims that my great aunt used to make a special lemon cake that was either a chiffon or sponge when we would visit her in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the summer when we were kids. I have zero recollection of that cake, but what I DO know is that THIS chocolate chip chiffon cake is all sorts of gorgeous and delicious.
Janice, a regular reader, emailed me last fall asking me if I had ever heard of a chocolate chip chiffon cake because her mom used to make one, but neither she nor her sister could find their mom’s recipe. About six weeks later, she emailed me to tell me she had found her mom’s recipe and shared it with me.
I was intrigued due to the whole never-having-chiffon-cake thing, but also because of the chocolate chip variation. You don’t actually use chocolate chips; you grate chocolate and fold it into the batter, which creates a gorgeous swirled/marbled effect that I adore!
How Do You Make Chiffon Cake?
Chiffon cake is a very light cake made with the following ingredients:
Flavorings, like vanilla extract
Add-ins, like grated chocolate
This particular cake is made by first sifting the flour, sugar and baking powder together with salt into a large bowl. Then a well is made in the center and the vegetable oil, egg yolks, water and vanilla extract are added. (If this were a plain chiffon cake recipe, versus chocolate chip, I would have loved to use vanilla bean paste instead of extract for gorgeous flecks of vanilla bean throughout!) The oil, yolks, water and vanilla are whisked together in the well, and then gradually whisked into the dry ingredients to form a smooth batter.
Next, 1 cup of egg whites (I needed about 7.5 egg whites) is whipped into a meringue with cream of tartar, and then the egg yolk batter is VERY GRADUALLY and GENTLY folded into the egg whites.
I was highly suspicious of this method, always having done this in reverse – fold the egg whites into the batter – and was convinced the whites would deflate and my cake would end up squat and dense. But… it worked! Just be super patient and only fold in a small amount at at time.
Finally, for this particular recipe, the grated chocolate is gently folded into the finished batter, then baked in a tube pan and cooled upside down (this ensures that the cake maintains its volume and does not collapse).
Do You Have to Use a Tube Pan to Make Chiffon Cake?
A tube pan is a specialty pan that is used for chiffon cakes and angel food cakes. The tall sides and inner tube allow the cake to “climb” the pan and cling to the sides while it bakes (which is why you never grease these pans!). Perhaps even more important, however, is the “feet” you see on a tube pan; these allow the cakes to cool upside down without the top of the cake touching the counter or a cooling rack. This is vital in ensuring that the cakes maintain their volume and do not collapse.
Baking a chiffon cake in a traditional cake pan or Bundt pan will unfortunately not work; the cake will fall.
What is the Difference Between Chiffon Cake, Sponge Cake and Angel Food Cake?
Chiffon cake sets itself apart from other cakes in that it uses vegetable oil as its fat source, as opposed to butter, which keeps it incredibly moist. In order to get that amazing volume, the eggs are separated and the whites are whipped into a meringue, then combined with the rest of the batter.
Angel food cakes use no fat at all and no chemical leaveners; they rely only on whipped egg whites that have been stabilized with cream of tartar to give the cake its volume. Sugar is added for sweetness and a very small amount of flour for structure, plus additional flavorings, as desired.
A traditional sponge cake, meanwhile, uses butter as the fat, and usually starts with the butter being whipped with the sugar. The eggs are either beaten into the sugar mixture or the yolks are added while the whites are whipped into a meringue and folded into the batter. The flour is typically sifted onto the batter and folded in gently.
Can Chiffon Cake Be Made in Advance and/or Frozen?
Yes to both!
To make ahead, bake the cake and cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
To freeze the cake, place the baked and cooled cake on a baking sheet or large plate and place in the freezer until completely frozen. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a resealable freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Many people swear that frozen and thawed chiffon cakes are even MORE moist than freshly baked ones!
If you have ever been intimidated to attempt something a chiffon cake, do not give it another thought! It is so doable and produces such a beautiful result. All you need is a little love and patience (my husband and father-in-law claim to always know when something is made with love!).
Thank you so much to Janice for sharing her mom’s recipe!
If You Like This Chocolate Chip Chiffon Cake, Try These:
In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Make a well in the center of the sifted ingredients and add the following, in this order: vegetable oil, egg yolks, water, and vanilla extract. Whisk together the ingredients in the well, then slowly start whisking in the dry ingredients, working from the center outward, until you have a smooth mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy, then increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form.
Pour the egg yolk mixture VERY gently and gradually, a small amount at a time, over the egg whites, folding until completely blended. (It is very important to be very patient during this part of the process so you do not totally deflate the egg whites, it can take up to 15 minutes or so to incorporate all of the egg yolk mixture.) Gently fold in the grated chocolate. Pour batter into an ungreasedtube pan and smooth the surface.
Bake for 55 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool the cake upside down until completely cool, then remove from the pan and transfer to a serving platter. The cake can be stored at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
I needed approximately 7.5 large egg whites to make 1 cup.
Do not substitute regular cake pans or a Bundt pan for the tube pan - the cake will fall.