Chiffon cake is not your average cake.
Invented by insurance salesman Harry Baker, the recipe for chiffon cake was a secret for 20 years, until Baker sold it to General Mills. The light, moist cake then became popular in the 1940s and 1950s.
What Makes Chiffon Cakes Different
The light, fluffy, and moist texture of chiffon cake is mostly due to vegetable oil.
Harry Baker discovered that by using vegetable oil instead of butter in his cake recipes, the resulting cake was less dense and hard. It also stayed fresh longer.
No wonder chiffon cake caught on.
The other element that gives chiffon cake its delicious crumb is the addition of whipped egg whites.
Just before baking, whipped egg whites are folded into chiffon cake batter. The egg whites take the cake to the next level, both figuratively and literally: chiffon cakes really rise during baking.
Less Traditional Chiffon Cakes
I stray a bit from the traditional with my chiffon cake recipe.
I do use butter.
It adds more flavor to the cake. But I also wanted the moistness that comes from using oil. So, my chiffon cake recipe uses melted butter and oil. It truly is the best of both worlds: these chiffon cakes are both moist and flavorful.
My Favorite Pan for Heart Chiffon Cakes
I prefer to make my chiffon cake recipe as individual cakes. I recommend baking them in this gorgeous heart pan [aff. link].
This pan makes my chiffon cake recipe particularly appropriate for Valentine’s Day, but these mini-heart cakes truly are the perfect dessert year-round.
A Few Things!
Beating the egg whites to stiff peaks is crucial to getting the chiffon cake texture just right. It’s not difficult, but you certainly need the right tool.
Here’s my favorite handheld mixer on Amazon [aff. link]. It’s both functional and beautiful. I love the retro vibe. I have this mixer in iced blue, and I use it every time I make chiffon cake. You can also find this mixer in my Amazon store.
A Tip for the Chocolate Chunks in Chiffon Cakes
Coat the chocolate chunks in 1 Tbsp of flour so they don’t sink to the bottom of the cakes. This is what the chocolate chunks should look like before adding them to the batter.
Beat the Egg Whites to Stiff Peaks for Chiffon Cakes
Here’s a photo tutorial for what the egg whites should look like:
Chiffon Cakes Meet Classic Hollywood
In keeping with the heart shape of these cakes, here are a few of my favorite Classic Hollywood romances:
Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn
Read all about the 26 year romance of Spence and Kate in my Katharine Hepburn series here. Take a look at my article on Woman of the Year (1942) for details of how their inspiring romance began.
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart
Bogie and Bacall are just as iconic as Tracy and Hepburn. Read about this inspiring couple in my article on The African Queen (1951).
Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner
Natalie and R.J. were one of Hollywood’s most gorgeous couples. Read about the highs and lows of their romance in my article on The Great Race (1965).
Fred MacMurray and June Haver
A more niche couple, but inspiring none the less. June, a peppy musical star, set aside her plans to enter a nunnery after she met the lovable Fred. And only June could bring Fred out of the depression that set in following the loss of his first wife to cancer.
June and Fred were married from 1954 until Fred’s passing in 1991.
Jimmy Stewart & Gloria Hatrick McLean
Jim and Gloria are one of my favorite couples of Classic Hollywood. Read all about their nearly 50 year marriage in my series on Jimmy Stewart, with most details in my article on Winchester ’73 (1950).
Chiffon Cakes with Chocolate Chunks
For the wet ingredients:
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- ⅓ cup oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup almond milk, or milk of choice
For the dry ingredients:
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 egg whites
- 8 oz baking chocolate, chopped, (milk, semi-sweet, dark, whatever your preference)
- 1 Tbsp flour
Prepare the chocolate chunks
- Chop 8 ounces of baking chocolate into chunks. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of flour over the chocolate, and work the flour into the chunks until they are well coated. (See photo in the article above for reference.) The flour keeps the chocolate chunks from sinking to the bottom of the cakes while they bake.
Whip the egg whites
- Separate 2 egg whites from their yokes (we won’t need these yolks in the recipe), and put the egg whites in a very clean mixing bowl.
- With a handheld or stand mixer with very clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. (See photos in the article above for reference.). The peaks are stiff enough if they hold their shape when you take the beaters out.
- Set aside, and proceed quickly with the following steps. The shorter the egg whites sit the better.
Cream the wet ingredients
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use a handheld or stand mixer to cream together the oil, melted butter, and sugar until well combined, about one minute.
- Now add the vanilla and the egg (not the egg whites we just beat to stiff peaks; we'll add those a little later).
- Beat with your mixer until everything is combined and fluffy, then add the milk. Mix until the milk is completely incorporated.
Mix in the dry ingredients
- Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and mix with your handheld/stand mixer until almost combine.
- Now add in the chocolate chunks. Mix them into the batter with a spatula until just combined. Don't overmix.
Fold in the egg whites
- Now fold in the egg whites with a silicon spatula. See photos in the article above for my folding technique.
- We want to completely incorporate the egg whites into the cake batter, but only by folding them in softly so they don't deflate.
Bake the chiffon cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the heart-shaped pan
- If using the heart-shaped pan, which I recommend, oil the pan well, and pour about ½ cup of batter into each heart. You will have just about ½ cup of batter left over. I use an 8 oz ramekin for the remaining batter, and I bake the ramekin alongside the heart-shaped cakes.
- Bake for 27-29 minutes, until the cakes are mostly firm—there will be a slight jiggle—and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cake comes out mostly clean.
- Let the heart cakes cook for 5 minutes, then take them out of the pan. Use a butter knife if needed to help slide the cakes out of the pan. The side of each cake that was in the bottom of the pan will now become the top of each cake.
For an 8x8 inch or 9x9 inch pan
- If not using the heart-shaped pan, pour the cake batter into an oiled 8x8 inch or 9x9 inch pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is mostly firm on top—there will be a slight jiggle—and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
Serve and enjoy!
- Serve the cakes alone, with ice cream, or a cup of almond milk.
What a fun cake pan and yet a better recipe. I think even a non-baker like me could shine making your Chiffon cake.
As always I enjoyed the flashbacks with the stars of the past, but you really got me remembering with the image of Fred. However, I know him more as Steven Douglas from My Three Sons. I grew up watching and loving that series. I haven’t seen it in years, now I must search and see if it’s on the net.
Thanks Ron! Oh for sure, this is definitely a very user-friendly recipe, so to speak 😆. YES!!!! My Three Sons is quintessential Fred MacMurray! Love love LOVE him in that show! It’s been a bit since I last studied Fred’s life in depth, but I do remember that he was all but retired when he signed on to star in My Three Sons, and only agreed to the show on the condition that he could get all his filming done in a few months (or less!) time, and then would have the rest of the year off. The producers agreed to his request, and Fred’s schedule became the envy of all Hollywood! Understandably, other stars began requesting similar schedules, and it became known as “The MacMurray Method.”
What a cool idea to use half butter and half vegetable oil in these cakes, Shannon! I remember making a chiffon cake years ago when I was taking a baking class, but I can’t say I’ve ever circled back and tried again. Now you’ve got me intrigued! Plus, the chocolate chunks in this one are perfect. Also, I loved the classic couples section at the end of the post. I enjoy picking up fun tidbits and stories in posts…and your posts always deliver that! 🙂
Awwwww thank you so much David!! I just love the Classic Hollywood romances. Valentine’s Day gave me the perfect excuse to share a few of my favorites! 😆
What adorable little chiffons. And such interesting photos of old Hollywood.
Thanks Jeff! I can’t get enough of the light crumb of Chiffon Cakes! And Valentine’s is such a great excuse to eat cake. 😆
I am not a baker, but I love the tip about adding flour to chocolate! Hopefully I remember that! Those olden days couples are so beautiful. I didn’t know about Fred MacMurray (sp?) and his wife. Great post.
Thank you so much Mimi! Isn’t that a fun trick? It really helps keep those chocolate chunks from sinking! I just love the Classic Hollywood couples, especially the ones like Fred and June who made their marriage forever, despite the temptations of Hollywood. True love indeed!
Oh my, the texture of these chiffon cakes sounds out of this world! And those couple photos are so glamorous and gorgeous – I can’t believe that Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner married each other twice? How romantic! I love the old school Hollywood goss. Another stunning recipe, Shannon!
Thank you Katerina! Is’t that neat about RJ and Natalie? They were very young when they first married, and it ended in divorce. But even after they divorced, they were still loved each other. Just meant to be together! And so they married again! Such a great Classic Hollywood romance. 💗
I love chiffon cakes for their moist, airy, and light texture, and these mini cakes look wonderful! Thank you for another Hollywood lesson, too 🙂
Thanks Ben! I agree, chiffon cakes have the most delicious texture. 😋
These turned out great! It really did work to fold in the egg whites- the cakes turned out so fluffy and delicious! Great recipe!
Thanks Harper! Folding the egg whites in makes such a difference.
The little heart shaped cakes area adorable an sound delicious too.. but I’m off to read about the romances of the stars. Thanks.
Haha thanks Judee!