For Chocolate Lovers only

Modestly Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Tips: As the name implies, this is a dessert with a modest chocolate content. A mere three ounces of grated chocolate speckles a tall and handsome, citrus-perfumed chiffon cake. I prefer to eat this delicate creation plain, accompanied by tea or milk, though you can sift a bit of confectioners' sugar over the top just before serving.

You'll need an electric stand mixer or a sturdy hand-held mixer to make this, in addition to a 10 by 4 inch, two-piece tube pan (in a two-piece tube pan, the tube and bottom are one piece and the sides are one piece). Even if the pan has "feet", you'll need a sturdy, empty bottle from which to suspend the cake to cool it (I use a clean, empty wine bottle). Yes, it is nervewracking to turn a freshly-baked, hot cake upside down onto the neck of a bottle, but I've never yet had one fall out of the pan! The method really works.

No matter which bowl and beater(s) you choose for beating your whites, make sure they are perfectly clean and grease-free. Separate your eggs when they are just out of the fridge, but remember that the volume of the whites will be far greater when beaten if they're at room temperature.

Yield: 16 servings


  • 6 eggs, graded "large" separated, plus 2 additional egg whites from eggs graded "large"
  • 2-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 3-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light vegetable oil, such as corn or safflower
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Grated zest 2 oranges AND 2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely grated


At least an hour before you want to bake, remove eggs from the fridge. Separate them, placing the whites (including the two additional whites) into the large bowl of an electric mixer and the yolks into any small bowl. Cover both bowls lightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand until whites are at room temperature or very slightly warmer.

When ready to bake, adjust oven rack so it is one-third of the way up from the bottom of the oven. Assemble a two-piece, absolutely clean, 10 by 4 inch tall tube pan; do not grease or line the pan. Have ready a clean, empty, sturdy glass bottle with a relatively tall neck; an empty wine or liqueur bottle (750 ml size) will do just fine. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Into a large bowl, sift the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar (reserve remainder), baking powder, and salt. All at once, add the water, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. With sturdy, hand-held mixer or whisk, beat at low speed to moisten dry ingredients, then increase speed to medium and beat until batter is smooth (batter will be on the thin side). With a spoon or spatula, stir in the citrus rind until evenly distributed. Set aside.

With whisk beater fitted to electric stand mixer, beat whites at high speed until foamy and slightly increased in volume. Sprinkle on cream of tartar. Beat in at low speed, then increase speed to high again and beat until traces of beater marks are visible in whites. Add reserved 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar in 6 additions, beating in each addition at low speed until incorporated, then returning speed to high for 10 to 15 seconds. Beat this meringue until it is just before stiff peak stage. Remove bowl from mixer.

Pour about one-sixth of yolk batter into meringue. Using a large sptula, fold in not too thoroughly. Continue to add egg yolk batter to meringue in about 5 more additions, folding each in not too thoroughly. With last addition of batter, add grated chocolate. Fold this mixture until all batter is incorporated into meringue (check the bottom of the bowl to be sure, as sometimes the yolk batter likes to hide down there) and chocolate flecks are evenly distributed. Pour into tube pan and gently and quickly spread level.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 52 minutes. Cake should rise slightly above edge of pan and may develop deep cracks in top surface; top will not brown deeply. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into center emerges with only a few moist crumbs still clinging to it; do not overbake. Remove to cooling rack.

Working quickly and WEARING POT HOLDERS, take a deep breath, then turn the cake upside down so that the neck of the sturdy bottle fits into the tube of the pan. The cake pan may be tilted on the neck of the bottle-OK. The top of the cake should be at least 10 inches or so off your worksurface. Allow cake to cool undisturbed.

When cake is at room temperature, carefully remove from bottle and turn right side up. Very gently loosen from sides and tube of pan, then carefully push up through sides of pan; the cake will emerge right side up and still attached to the tube portion of the pan. Gently loosen cake from bottom of tube portion, then turn upside down onto large serving plate. Cake may be served immediately or stored airtight at room temperature for up to three days (freeze for longer storage). To cut, use a large, very sharp, serrated knife and a sawing motion to cut cake into slices.

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