Lemon Chiffon Cake
Growing up, my sister and I thought we had the best birthday cakes on the planet! Every year, my mom would build a multi-tier cake for us out of watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, grapes, and every other fruit imaginable. We felt so sorry for my mom every year on her birthday, when my dad would build her a cake out of little golden inner tubes – we would rather have watermelon anyday! Imagine our surprise when we actually tried our first Krispy Kreme donut….and realized that we’d been had!!! Our darling mother, who made all of our baby food herself (no additives!) and only let us eat organic, unprocessed, naturally-sweetened foods (before that was trendy!), had a secret sweet tooth we knew nothing about!
Twenty years later (and a little more familiar with my mom’s actual tastes) I decided to try a Lemon Chiffon Cake for my mom’s birthday cake this year. I found a recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook, gave it a whirl, and am surprisingly pleased with the results. This chiffon cake combines the richness of a traditional layer cake with the lightness of an angel food cake and yields a result that satisfies but doesn’t cause sugar overload! The fresh lemon zest in both the cake and the glaze gives an otherwise fairly basic cake a bright refreshing taste that is sure to wow your guests!
Lemon Chiffon Cake (recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker):
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup cold water
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. lemon zest (grated lemon peel)*
7 large eggs, separated
½ tsp. cream of tartar
*approximately zest of 1 large lemon, or 2 small lemons
Lemon Glaze (recipe adapted from Betty Crocker):
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp. hot water
½ tsp. lemon zest, plus 1 tsp. lemon zest (to garnish top of cake)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
-Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
-Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (I sifted the flour, baking powder and salt, then added the sugar)
-Beat in water, oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and eggs yolks (add 1 at a time), mix on low until smooth
-Gradually add egg yolk mixture to egg whites, folding in with a rubber spatula until just blended. A good tutorial for folding into egg whites can be found here
-Pour into ungreased angel food cake pan/tube pan/bundt pan
-Immediately invert pan onto a heatproof funnel or bottle. (Bonus points if you do it the Semi-Homemade way and chug the entire bottle first!)
-Let sit on bottle for about 2 hours or until completely cool. Loosen side and middle of cake with a knife or long metal spatula; remove from pan.
-Melt butter in saucepan over low heat; remove from heat when melted
-Add water as needed until icing reaches consistency of thick syrup
-Drizzle over cake, allowing some to drizzle down the side