A chocolate chiffon cake is a surefire hit for its fluffy, airy texture. The cake traditionally calls for oil, rather than butter, which lends to its lovely moistness as well as easy assembly. Some may compare it to an angel food cake, but the chiffon has both egg yolks (adding even more moistness) and fat, while an angel food cake has neither. Both are baked in tube pans and left upside down to cool once baked—a crazy position to put a cake in the first time you do it, believe us.
To assemble the chiffon cake, cocoa powder is bloomed in hot water to enhance its chocolate flavor with each bite. All the mixing is done within one bowl with the exception of the whipped egg whites for simplicity and little cleaning. The batter is transferred to an ungreased tube pan and bakes up in less than an hour. Prepare yourself for the most stunning and tallest of chocolate cakes—it's sure to be a staple at the dessert table.
- 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
- 7 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or mild olive oil)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 325 F and set aside a 10-cup tube pan (no need to grease).
In a large bowl, combine the cocoa powder, boiling water, and espresso powder, if using. Whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, add the egg yolks and brown sugar; whisk to combine.
Whisk in the oil, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Sift the cake flour into the bowl and whisk to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the granulated sugar to the egg whites. Once fully added, increase the speed to medium-high and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.
In 3 additions, gently fold the meringue into the mixing bowl with the cake batter until combined.
Transfer the cake batter to the pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, testing for readiness at 45, until the top springs back when touched and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out with a moist crumb.
As soon as your remove from the oven, flip the cake upside down onto the tube pan's feet—see tips if your pan does not have feet. Let rest for about an hour and a half until cooled to room temperature. This process prevents the cake from collapsing.
To remove the cake from the pan, gently run a knife around the edge of the pan and the tube—you do not want to tear the cake. Remove the sides, then run a long knife between the bottom of the cake and the pan, and carefully lift the cake off of the pan.
Dust the cake with confectioners' sugar and serve slices with lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream. The cake will keep tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- Do not over whip the egg whites or the cake can collapse - whip them just to stiff peaks, so that when you remove the whisk from the stand mixer and turn it upside down, the whites stand upright or bend just slightly at the top of the peak.
- Be sure you do not over bake the cake or it will lose its lovely moisture. Check the cake at 45 minutes and if it springs back when pressed lightly with your finger o a cake tester comes out with a moist crumb, remove it from the oven immediately.
- If your pan does not have feet, you can invert the cake and place the neck over a funnel or bottleneck (like a wine bottle). Alternatively, you can rest the sides of the pan on 2 drinking glasses.
- The espresso powder is added to the chocolate because it intensifies the chocolate-y flavor of the cocoa powder. It does not make the cake taste like coffee.
- Glaze the cake with an easy chocolate ganache by warming 1 cup heavy cream and pouring it over 8 ounces chopped chocolate. Stir and let cool slightly before drizzling over the cake. Or, let the ganache sit at room temperature and firm up for a thick, fudgey sauce.
- Dutch-processed cocoa powder gives the cake a lovely color and flavor, but if you only have natural cocoa powder, you can use that.
- If you do not have espresso powder, you can use 3/4 cup of hot coffee instead.
Chiffon vs. Sponge Cake
A chiffon cake is different than a sponge cake, as sponge cakes have no fat (butter or oil). But they are sometimes confused as they both call for fat in the form of yolks along with beaten egg whites.