Chiffon cakes are so easy to make that I don´t think I would ever buy one. This is the kind of cake that was baked in my house when my kids were growing up probably once or twice a month. The kind of cake they would have for breakfast, lunchbox or dessert. The kind of cake all their friends from school also ate at home. Although this is not originally a Peruvian cake, you can find it everywhere in Lima, and in every bakery in the country, and there aren’t many home cooks who don’t know how to make a good ol’ fluffy chiffon.
I love its delicate texture, and its subtle and comforting flavor. I usually have it plain, or toasted and smeared with butter, maybe some jelly… When I want something sweeter I melt some chocolate, into a sauce (I used to melt Toblerone triangles to make this for my kids), and soak the spongy cake in it. It’s divine! Fruits and whipped cream? Absolutely! And with a good cup of coffee -if you’re addicted to it as I am- it´s heaven. This cake is so good, that I used to freeze it, well wrapped, so there would always be a slice at hand for those moments of weakness or sheer hunger (teenagers’ appetites can be pretty wild!).
Elena Gustafson, one of my best friends in Lima, and an outstanding baker, was a big fan of this cake, and her disappointment was enormous when she discovered that the mile-high chiffon cakes sold in the streets and stores in our city, were not the product of a careful preparation and great technique. Instead, some producers used chemical ingredients that made their cakes grow high with a really low cost, but the authenticity and quality of the chiffon was jeopardized. We don’t want you to go through this, so here we give you the recipe so that you can enjoy the experience of baking it, from the initial preparation, to the sweet-smell that will spread throughout your house, to the uncomparable pleasure of eating it straight out of the oven.
- 8 eggs, separated
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup orange juice
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Mint leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350~F. Have ready an angel food baking mold, very clean.
- In a bowl whip the egg yolks at high speed, until pale and creamy. Add 1 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time.
- In another bowl combine orange juice, vegetable oil and vanilla essence. Add to the egg yolks along with the flour, and salt. Mix carefully.
- In a clean bowl whip the egg whites until foamy, add the other cup of sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Turn off the mixer and fold the meringue into the egg yolks mixture using an spatula, and pour into the baking pan.
- Bake por one hour. Take out of the oven and turn the pan up-side down to cool. It should be high enough to let the fresh air circulate under the pan.
- When completely cool, unmold, and cut in slices.
- Serve with berries, mint leaves, and some whipped cream or chocolate sauce.