Friday, June 24, 2011

Citrus Chiffon Cake: A (Belated) Ode to Dad

I've been trying to imagine what my father would say about me being late in posting a Father's Day dedication to him. I know he probably wouldn't mind and note that it's the thought that counts. He'd also might snark that, thank goodness, it's him I'm late with and not my mother. Ever the strategist, he might also discuss whether or not I should consider an editorial calendar. Or maybe rethink whatever bad life choices that led me to being too sick to post on time.

Sorry, Dad.

While I have traits from both my parents, I think the ones inherited from Dad are some of the more marked parts of my personality. The wry, snarky, and occasionally inappropriate sense of humor. The intense detestation of being bored (my father might be the only person who dislikes retirement because there isn't enough to do). The stubborn adherence to logic to the point that it becomes illogical. The sweet tooth.

Oh, yes, the sweet tooth.

My father, in the middle of several health crises, squirreled away Oreos. I remember buying a slice of strawberry cheesecake and saving it for an after-school treat, only to have my anticipation cut short by finding half the slice missing. Dad, knowing that a distant bakery carried these eggy coconut-filled buns that I liked, drove all the way there to buy a box. Just like Dad, I like nothing more than a pastry with a cup of tea or coffee.

It's funny that a man who loves sweets so much rarely made them himself, but he didn't bake much. In fact, I remember him baking two things, butter cookies and chiffon cake.

Not having grown up with very sweet desserts (although my mother has a weakness for pecan pie), my parents like chiffon cake because it's still rich, but not very sweet. When I saw a similar recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook (yes, from the much beloved magazine... sob), I had to make it.

So, thanks, Dad. Thanks for the endless cheerleading, the wisdom, and of course, the sweet tooth.

Citrus Chiffon Cake
Recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 teaspoons orange zest, finely grated
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

  • Sift together sugar, 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks, oil, zests, juice, and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

  • Place the egg whites and cream of tartar into the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or a large clean mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer). Beat at medium-high speed until the whites hold soft peaks, then slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat until the whites hold stiff peaks.

  • Gently stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whipped egg whites. Spoon batter into pan and smooth the top.

  • Bake for approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cake is done when a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes on a rack, then gently invert the pan (either over a bottle or onto the "feet" that are on some tube pans). The cake should not fall out, but be very cautious. Cool completely before removing from the pan.

  • Note: Original recipe calls for the pan to not be inverted, but I found that inverting works better. With my pan, the cake did not fall out and actually collapsed slightly when not inverted. However, with the butter/flouring of the pan, there is a risk of it falling out, so invert carefully.

  • 10 bites:

    Leanne A said...

    Awww... what a nice post for your dad.  I'm jealous your dad made chiffon cakes! The two dishes I associate with my dad are Kraft Mac 'n Cheese and hot dogs with peanut butter and crushed potato chips (don't scoff - I actually like that combo).

    Snehal said...

    That's a lovely post. I don't even remember my dad boiling water :D

    Alysa said...

    Where did you get those napkins under the cake plate? They're really beautiful! This recipe looks great too! I'll have to try it! 

    Bee said...

    This sounds delicious. It looks very light and I can almost imagine the citrusy taste!

    Jennifurla said...

    Lovely Lovely, refreshing & perfection for summer.

    Hester said...

    Aww, my dad drives like, 50 to 60 miles for this Chinese coconut bread that I like :-)  Aren't dads awesome?  This cake looks awesome, too!  I can just picture a dollop of fresh whipped cream and berries with this :-)

    Jessica said...

    Wow this sounds delicious! I love the flavors! Can't wait to try it!

    Marie said...

    The napkins came from Cost Plus World Market, which has all sorts of gorgeous table linens! :)

    Whiskedaway2 said...

    This cake looks scrumptious!  Thanks for stopping by my blog!  I need to look up that challah recipe from Julia and Dorie and try it out!  I love Challah bread!

    Joy said...

    I love chiffon cake.  The cake looks great.

    10 bites