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
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
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.