Take a load off and relax with a slice of refreshing, fluffy lemon chiffon cake. Each bite is filled with a citrus lemon flavor, topped with a light homemade lemon glaze that is great for a spring and summer treat.
You might be thinking that this is just another bundt cake recipe…wrong. Chiffon cake is all about texture. Look at all those air pockets!! The secret is using a lot of eggs (including beating the egg whites) and oil instead of butter. This combination gives sponge and chiffon cakes an airy feel.
Today I am going to make it easy for you because we are going to use a box cake mix instead of traditional ingredients. I am also adding some buttermilk to keep it moist, but rich in flavor.
If you enjoy lemon desserts, be sure to try my faaaaavorite Lemon Cheesecake or these lemon cream cheese cookie bars. Our layered lemon sponge cake is similar to this recipe, but made from scratch and is even lighter, like an angel food cake.
Chiffon Cakes vs Sponge vs Angel Food
While all of these cakes are similar there are a couple of differences that set them apart even though many may use these terms interchangeably.
Sponge Cake: These cakes are usually yeast-free and rely on eggs as the leavening agent to make them rise when baking. Since they don’t contain yeast, these are often gluten-free. Sponge cakes also lack butter and oil and are perfect for making multiple layers.
Chiffon Cake: Technically chiffon is a type of sponge cake, but they do contain a decent amount of oil. The fluffiness comes from using the egg yolks and whites but is still yeast-free (in most cases) and doesn’t require baking powder or soda.
Angel Food Cake: The biggest difference with this cake is that usually only egg whites are used. It’s also much drier than a chiffon cake.
Ingredients Needed for this Lemon Chiffon Cake Recipe
FOR THE CAKE:
- lemon cake mix – we will also add lemon flavor with fresh lemon and lemon essential oil, so if you’d like to use a white or yellow cake mix here, you can.
- vegetable oil – canola oil can be substituted
- buttermilk – if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, stir 2 teaspoons of lemon juice into ¾ cup of whole milk and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Zest of one lemon
- Eggs – we use a whole lot of eggs to make this special airy cake – 7 eggs!
- cream of tartar – to help hold the egg whites
FOR THE GLAZE:
- powdered sugar
- lemon oil
- heavy cream – you can sub in milk or even water for the lemon glaze, though cream will give you the thickest and creamiest glaze.
How to Make the Best Lemon Chiffon Cake
Beat together the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, lemon zest, and egg yolks in a large bowl.
Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar in a medium bowl using an electric mixer for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
Fold the egg whites into the cake batter using a spatula.
Pour the batter into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan (angel food cake pan or bundt pan). Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it.
Once the cake comes out of the oven, invert it over a wire rack to cool. This sounds peculiar, but the cake will not fall from the pan (be sure your pan is ungreased!). This prevents the cake from falling. When the cake has completely cooled, loosen it from the pan and turn it out onto a serving platter. Whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the cake.
Avoid a Flattened Chiffon Cake with These Tips
- Do not grease the pan. Leaving it as is allows the batter to cling to the tube and sides keeping it tall and fluffy.
- Be sure to cool upside down. If your pan doesn’t have “feet” you can place it on a wine bottle to cool.
- Clean attachments. Make sure your whisk attachment or beaters are clean and free of oil. If they are oily at all, it will cause deflated peaks.
- Use Room Temperature eggs. Room temp egg whites will hold more volume when beaten than cold egg whites.
- Don’t over whisk. You can your egg white peaks to be stiff where they stand when you lift them. If you overmix, they will have a different texture and so will your chiffon cake.
No, you can substitute the lemon oil for fresh lemon juice or lemon extract. Lemon oil is just a little more potent.
Yes! Once the cake has cooled completely, place it on a baking sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Then wrap it in a layer of saran wrap, followed by aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.
You can keep this cake in a covered container for up to 5 days at room temperature.
Lemon Chiffon Cake
For the Cake:
- 1 box lemon cake mix
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- Zest of one lemon 1-2 teaspoons
- 7 large eggs separated, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Glaze:
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon lemon oil
- 3 tablespoons cream
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, oil, buttermilk, lemon zest, and egg yolks.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl), whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form (about 5 minutes).
- Use a spatula to fold the egg whites (½ at a time) into the batter.
- Pour batter into a 10-inch tube pan. Do not grease the pan, as the batter needs to cling to the pan in order to climb and stay fluffy.
- Bake approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs, and the cake springs back when pressed gently.
- Cool UPSIDE DOWN. Most tube pans have little metal “feet” on the top of the pan for standing the cake upside down. Cool completely. The cake will not fall from the pan as long as you do not grease the pan.
- Loosen the sides and center of the cake from the pan. Turn the cake out onto a serving platter.
- Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon oil, and cream until a smooth glaze forms. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and spread it a bit over the top and sides. Let the glaze drizzle down over the sides as well.