Mother’s Day Lemon Chiffon Cake
Generally, every baked good I make goes through the same life cycle. I make it because baking is my ultimate form of escape. I focus so hard when I’m baking that all my stresses just melt into the background, and as the pan goes into the oven and I wash the dishes by myself, I just think. And it’s utterly relaxing.
I don’t give too much thought to what happens after I’ve finished. So I’ve got an entire cake, or five dozen cookies. Now what?
Usually my mom and I eat a little of what I make. She doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth, so she’ll try a small slice or one cookie. I’ll try it too, and if I like it, I might keep some and eat it throughout the week.
More than half of what I make, however, is always shared instead of kept at home. My mom sends plates of pretty stacked cookies over to our neighbors, who never bake themselves. I carry treats to school in my plastic cake carrier, stored in my locker until lunch time. And sometimes my mom brings it to work, so that whenever I’m in her office I inevitably get the question, “When are you baking again?”
But this cake. Oh, this innocent looking cake is a completely different story.
The first time I made it, my mother was actually shocked to like it. I had only just gotten into baking, and most everything was too rich or too sweet for her taste. But this chiffon cake, light as air and served without frosting, did it for her. Granted, it’s a small cake, but the two of us ate it all by ourselves.
I’ve made the cake countless times since, for her birthday and other special occasions. Once, over the course of 5 hours, my mom, dad, and I finished the entire thing. We started by cutting equal slices and carefully plating them, passing around forks. By the end, we tore off pieces of cake and brought them directly to our mouths. No utensils required.
Since the first time I started baking, my mother has enjoyed many more of my desserts. At least she doesn’t cringe when I ask her to try something with chocolate oozing out of it. But this cake was still, naturally, the only thing I even considered making for Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you. And a happy Mother’s Day to all of you, too.
[Note: The recipe can be doubled and used in a 10" cake pan, just adjust the cooking time accordingly, most likely around 1 hour.]
Lemon Chiffon Cake
Makes one 7″ cake
From Martha Stewart Living
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar, divided
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp grated lemon zest (about 4 lemons)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the three egg yolks, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, and water. Stir in the dry ingredients.
In an electric mixer, beat the three egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on high until soft peaks form, 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the tablespoon of sugar, beating on high for about 3 minutes until stiff peaks form.
Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the batter, then use a rubber spatula to gently fold the remaining 2/3 into the batter. Pour into an ungreased 7″ tube pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake 45 minutes or until a skewer poked into the cake comes out clean and the top is golden.
Cool the cake upside down by inverting the pan onto a bottle. Let cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours, before running a knife between cake and pan and inverting onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. You can also split the layers horizontally and fill with lemon curd, or pour a glaze over the cake. It’s also delicious with fresh fruit or ice cream.
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[PS: If any of you are wondering, testing season is not over. I have four more tests to take. But I'm burning out a little and getting a little bit more lax about my free time, and blogging. My last test is on the 22nd, so just two more weeks.]