This Lemon Chiffon Cake is a light and airy dessert with a delightfully refreshing lemon flavor. It's topped with a sweet, tangy lemon glaze which highlights the lemon with a touch of sweetness. It's perfect for the warm weather of spring and summer and delicious enough for entertaining.
If you've been following 2CM for a while, you have to know how much I love anything lemon. I've got my day covered with Lemon Blueberry Pancakes for breakfast, One Skillet Chicken with Lemon Sauce for dinner, and Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert. It's hard not to drool over all that lemon deliciousness. Now I've got the most tender, light, and airy lemon chiffon cake recipe to add to my repertoire.
Table of contents
What is a Chiffon Cake
A chiffon cake is a light, moist foam cake made with vegetable oil, in lieu of butter or shortening, and has a higher ratio of eggs to flour. It's leavening comes mainly from the air beaten into the egg whites. It bakes up moister and silkier than a sponge cake and richer and more flavorful than an angel food cake.
The best part about this moist chiffon lemon cake is how many ways it can be served. You can bake it and top it with a dusting of powdered sugar or opt for a light lemon glaze. Conversely, you can cut it in half horizontally and fill it with lemon curd and top with lemon buttercream frosting or use whipped cream and fresh berry combination for both in-between and on top. It's the perfect rich and tender cake to use as a base for a variety of desserts. Think out of the box and go wild!
Frequently Asked Questions
A sponge cake uses either baking soda or baking powder as a leavening agent while chiffon cakes mainly use beaten egg whites. However, some recipes may require the addition of some leavening agents.
For the best results, the answer is yes. The tube pan is a high-sided pan that allows the chiffon cake to rise to its full height thereby creating its light texture. And by the way, the hole in the center actually helps the cake to bake more evenly.
The batter needs to stick to the sides of the pan in order to rise as it bakes.
The cake is not stable until it has completely cooled. Cooling it upside down keeps it from collapsing.
The cake will stay moist and tender for 3-4 days at room temperature. It can also be covered and chilled and will last about a week. It also freezes well and will last up to 3 months. To serve, just bring it back to room temperature prior to serving.
- Flour - I used an all-purpose flour and sifted it 2-3 times to create a more powdery texture. You can also use cake flour to create the cake's finer, lighter crumb.
- Sugar - gives the cake its sweetness.
- Eggs - are divided using the egg yolks for a richer, more flavorful cake while the egg whites are beaten to give lightness and height to the cake.
- Vegetable Oil - is added to give a moister, silkier texture to the cake. Using oil in place of butter or shortening also aids in creating air bubbles to help the cake to rise.
- Baking Powder - aids in making the cake tall and light.
- Lemon Juice & Zest - lends the zesty, citrusy flavor. You can change out the lemon juice and zest for lime or orange for variety.
- Vanilla Extract - enhances the other flavors of the cake, in this instance the lemon.
How to make a chiffon cake
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Sift together 2-3 times until it results in a fine powder.
- Gather sifted dry ingredients and remaining ingredients for chiffon cake. Make sure eggs are at room temperature. Divide eggs and set whites aside.
- Whisk together, water, lemon juice, oil, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.
- Stir well to combine.
- Beat egg whites to soft peak consistency. When you lift the beaters, the whites should form a peak and then curl just slightly. This will keep the cake moist and light. If you overbeat them to a stiff peak, the result will be a drier cake.
- Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter starting with one-third of the mixture. Fold in remaining whites. It is OK if there are still some streaks of white.
- Mixed batter should look fluffy with some white streaks.
- Spoon batter into tube pan.
- Cut through batter with a knife to eliminate some of the larger air bubbles. DO NOT bang the cake pan on the counter as it will eliminate air bubbles.
- Ready to be baked!
- Baked cake. Doesn't it look so lemony and light!
- Immediately turn it upside down on the legs of the pan. If you don't have a pan with legs, turn it upside down over the neck of a bottle. Let it cool for one hour.
How to remove a chiffon cake from the tube pan
- Once the cake has cooled upside down for an hour, run a knife around the outside of the pan.
- Remove the cake, along with the bottom, by pulling up on the hollow tube in the center. Now, run the knife around the hollow tube and underneath the cake and turn upside down onto a plate or use your hands to turn.
I like to turn the cake again so the rounded side is on top but that is a personal preference. Now it's ready to decorate. You can dust it with powdered sugar, drizzle with lemon glaze or cover with a buttercream frosting. Adding mint leaves and lemon slices makes it a real showstopper.
Easy lemon glaze
- Gather the 3 ingredients for the lemon glaze.
- Whisk them all together. It should be just thin enough to be able to drizzle over cake.
Drizzle the lemon glaze all over the cooled cake. You can serve it as is or decorate the top with mint leaves and lemon slices.
Beautifully decorated cake with lemon glaze, mint sprigs and wedges of lemons. The flavors just shine in this springtime dessert.
Can't you just see the lightness and airiness of that slice of cake? It's beautiful lemon color reminds me of springtime and the aroma just makes me want to dive right in.
Now take a bite and savor the bright flavor of lemons. It's tangy richness reminds me of a pound cake while the light and airy texture brings to mind an angel food cake. You can't get better than that for a warm weather dessert. Enjoy!
Orange Chiffon Cake - just exchange the lemon juice and zest for orange juice and zest.
Lemon Poppy Seed Chiffon Cake - fold 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds into final batter.
Vanilla Chiffon Cake - add milk in place of the lemon juice, omit the zest and double the vanilla extract.
Lemon Chiffon Strawberry Shortcake - Use the chiffon cake as the basis for a fresh strawberry topping and a dollop of whipped cream.
More light desserts
Mandarin Orange Cake is a citrusy flavored cake that starts with a box mix and a can of mandarin oranges. It's topped with Cool Whi, sweetened with crushed pineapple, for a refreshing summer dessert.
Key Lime Pudding Cake is a refreshing magic cake that separates into two layers as it bakes, a light, airy sponge cake on top and a tangy custardy pudding underneath.
Chocolate Chiffon Cake from The Unlikely Baker is as light as air and topped with a whipped vanilla cream.
Mango Pineapple Icebox Cheesecake is like mango colada meets cheesecake. This frozen no-bake dessert is a mix of cream cheese, mango, and pineapple, a touch of rum, and plenty of whipped cream.
Lemon Chiffon Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 7 large eggs separated, room temperature
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup lemon juice about 2 lemons
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ Tablespoons grated lemon zest about 2 large lemons
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom and DO NOT GREASE THE PAN! If your pan does not have a removable bottom, you can grease just the bottom and line with parchment paper.
- Combine the first four ingredients together in a large bowl. Sift them together at least two times to make them into a fine powder. A large strainer makes this easy to do.
- Divide the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and the yolks in a medium bowl.
- Add water, lemon juice, oil, lemon zest and extract to the medium bowl with eggs yolks and whisk until well combined.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until blended.
- Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. When you pull the beaters out of the egg whites, the peaks will fall over. This is called soft peaks. Make sure not to beat until ir forms stiff peaks as the cake will turn out very dry.
- Using a spatula, softly fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the lemon cake batter. Repeat with the remaining egg whites until fairly well blended. There will still be some white streaks showing.
- Spoon the batter into the tube pan. When done, cut through the batter with a knife to eliminate any air pockets that may have formed.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes. It’s done when the top springs back when lightly touched.
- Remove from oven and immediately invert pan. If the pan has feet, it can sit upside down on its own. I like to protect my counter and place the pan on a wooden board. If your pan does not have feet, invert it over a long-necked bottle. Let it cool for 1 hour.
- When the cake is cool, run a knife around the outside edges, the bottom (if needed) as well as the center tube to loosen. Turn cake out and invert onto a serving plate.
- Mix all ingredients for glaze in a small bowl. Pour over cake and let it drip down sides. Decorate with slices of lemon and mint sprigs.