Airy, bouncy, and lightly sweet, Orange Chiffon Cake is an elegant pastry with a warm, citrusy aroma from orange zest and a hint of cardamom. This soft and moist chiffon cake is served with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and topped with ribbons of orange peel.
With abundant navel oranges in the kitchen, I knew exactly what I wanted to make — Orange Chiffon Cake (オレンジシフォンケーキ). My daughter loves chiffon cake, and many JOC readers have specifically requested this recipe for a long time. To make it extra special and wow-worthy, I sneaked in a pinch of cardamom for a charming flavor.
Navel Oranges + Cardamom Flavor
I fell in love with cardamom when my Indian neighbor, who became my very good friend, made Chai every time our kids had a playdate at her house (I shared her recipe here). The cardamom pods smelled so inviting and delicious. It was a new spice that I had never seen or tasted in Japan.
When I was looking for a unique flavor that would complement orange, cardamom came to mind. I don’t remember exactly what dish I had tried, but it must have been a dessert that immediately caught my tastebuds off guard with the combination. Like clove, but more subtle, cardamom pairs beautifully with citrus flavors, adding warmth and depth that makes this chiffon cake so memorable.
Ingredients for Orange Chiffon Cake
I love making chiffon cakes as the ingredients are so simple. Eggs, sugar, and flour, these are the ingredients we usually have in the pantry, right? For the flavoring, you can literally work with anything you can think of – black teas, coffee, spices, seasonal fruits, or a more unique Japanese flavors like matcha or black sesame. It is probably one of the most versatile cakes to make at home.
Another reason I like chiffon cake is it’s never too sweet. If you’re familiar with Japanese (or Asian) sweets, they are in general not overly sweet or laden with sugar, so you can enjoy the baked treats and not feel bogged down.
Navel Oranges: What’s your favorite kind of orange? I love navel oranges as they are sweet and juicy, which I used to make this chiffon cake. You can also use Cara Cara Oranges since they are in season right now.
Cardamom: This highly aromatic spice adds a hint of pine-like fragrance and delicate yet spicy flavor to the chiffon cake. Although you can do without cardamom for the recipe, I’d recommend giving it a try. You should be able to find cardamom in the spice aisle at any major grocery stores or specialty spice shops. If you’re not sure what else to do with it after baking the chiffon cake, use cardamom just like you would with cinnamon. Try a pinch of the spice with your cold brew coffee, baked goods, curries or roast meats. It can be a game-changer.
Neutral Oil: Use canola or vegetable oil; please do not use olive oil or other kinds of oil.
Cake Flour: I’ll talk more about it in detail below. If you are making a chiffon cake, use cake flour, not all-purpose flour. At least you can make homemade cake flour with all-purpose flour and cornstarch (See Notes in the recipe below).
Eggs: I use large eggs for all my recipes on the blog as they are the standard size in American recipes.
My Favorite: Super-Fine Unbleached Cake Flour from Bob’s Red Mill®
This post was sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill®. I couldn’t be any more thrilled when I get to work with Bob’s Red Mill® to develop this Orange Chiffon Cake recipe. When comes to baking and breakfast products, I highly recommend Bob’s Red Mill®. Have you tried any of their flours or other products before? What I genuinely admire about the company is that they use honest ingredients and methods for all their wide range of products, which I think it’s important for the consumers.
As an employee-owned company, Bob’s Red Mill® uses high-quality whole grains to satisfy all vegan, paleo, and gluten-free friendly cooking and baking needs. From almond flour, cake mixes, coconut flour to various grains, it offers the largest lines of organic, whole grain foods in the country. You can be assured that all of its products are certified Kosher and made with ingredients grown from non-GMO seeds. If you’re curious, you can go to the website and learn more about the founder, Bob Moore and his mission too.
To achieve the perfect light texture for the chiffon cake, I used Super-Fine Unbleached Cake Flour from Bob’s Red Mill®. Because it is sifted to a very fine texture, the cake flour is fantastic for all sorts of cakes – especially delicate ones like chiffon cakes. You should be able to find the cake flour at any major grocery store. Alternatively, you can also buy it on Amazon.
First Time Making Chiffon Cake?
I’ve shared some helpful tips on How to Make the Perfect Chiffon Cake – Tips & Troubleshoot. Take a look before you start making your first chiffon cake.
I also want to go over some kitchen tools that I use in this recipe. I know some of you have never baked or rarely bake, but I would love to try making this Orange Chiffon Cake.
Chiffon Cake Pan: It’s important to get a chiffon cake pan to make a chiffon cake to maintain the height structure and airiness. Aluminum material works best, and make sure it doesn’t come with non-stick coating. Why? Because the batter needs to cling to the wall of the cake pan and climb up tall with the help of beaten egg whites. A nonstick pan is slippery and the batter will slide down and flop. You can get this 7-inch angel food cake pan on Amazon or Japanese chiffon cake pan on Nihon Ichiban (ship internationally).
Zester 1: This zester features several sharp holes at the tip of the tool which works brilliantly in zesting off any citrus fruits. There is also another larger hole that allows you to peel off long curly strips for garnishes. With the two different features, you can create zest in different textures.
Zester 2: Microplane is a versatile tool to have in every kitchen. You can get very fine zest and triple amount from any citrus fruits. It is particularly useful for baking when you need the citrus flavors to be dispersed into the batter. Aside from zesting, you can also use it to grate cheese and ginger.
Hand Mixer: I still use a stand mixer (even though it doesn’t show up in my recipe videos/photos), but this hand mixer has been pretty handy and helpful for our filming (easy to show you the process). It takes a little longer than a more powerful stand mixer, but it still does a great job. So if you don’t want to spend too much money on the equipment you don’t use often and don’t want to lose your arm from whipping egg whites with a whisk, I strongly recommend this hand mixer.
Other Delicious Chiffon Cake Flavors
Chiffon cakes are very popular sweet in Japan. Not only it’s cleverly designed to feed a crowd on many occasions, it also keeps so well that you could serve it for breakfast or afternoon tea for the whole week. So far I have the following flavors of chiffon cakes:
Have you tried any other interesting chiffons cake you’d like to make at home? Let me know in the comments below. Maybe I’ll be able to share the recipe next time.
Orange Chiffon Cake
- 3 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell) (separated)
- 10 pods cardamom (you’ll need ½ tsp ground cardamom)
- 3-4 oranges (I used navel oranges)
- 3 oz sugar (measure ½ cup and then remove 1 Tbsp; separated)
- 3 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.)
- 2.6 oz cake flour (measure ⅔ cup and then remove 2 tsp; If you're using a cup measurement, please follow this method to measure. Otherwise, the amount of flour tends to be more than you need. You can make your Homemade Cake Flour.)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar/powdered sugar (for dusting; optional)
- Gather all the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 340ºF (170ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). You will also need a 17cm (7") chiffon cake pan. Make sure you use the correct chiffon cake pan. The best types are the aluminum ones with a removable base (Do not use non-stick bakeware for chiffon cake – it will not work). Do not grease the mold because the cake needs to cling on the sides and center of the pan for support as it rises or it will collapse.
- Separate 3 eggs to yolks and whites. Keep the egg yolks in a medium bowl, and egg whites in a large bowl. Freeze the large bowl with egg whites for 15 minutes so that the bowl and egg whites are very cold (it's okay that they are partially frozen when you beat the egg whites). NOTE: In Japan, cream of tartar is not typically used to whip egg whites. We always use cold egg whites to make smooth, fine-texture meringue.
- Crush the cardamom pods and remove the shell. Grind the seeds till fine powder. You will need ½ tsp finely ground cardamom.
- Zest the oranges (I use 3-4 navel oranges). As I mentioned in the blog post, I use 2 types of zesters for more texture and flavors. Use roughly 2-3 Tbsp fine zest and some srips for cake batter and reserve 1-2 Tbsp of the strips for cake decoration.
- Cut the oranges in half and juice until you get 4 Tbsp (60 ml) of fresh orange juice.
- In the bowl with egg yolks, add roughly ⅓ of granulated sugar and whisk until creamy pale yellow.
- Add 3 Tbsp (40 ml) vegetable/canola oil, ½ tsp ground cardamom, and orange zest from 3-4 oranges and whisk well.
- Add 4 Tbsp (60 ml) juice from oranges to the egg mixture and whisk well.
- Sift 75 g (2.6 oz) cake flour and 1 tsp baking powder into the egg mixture. Whisk until incorporated and make sure there are no lumps.
- Take out the bowl with egg whites from the freezer. Whip the egg whites until opaque, foamy, and bubbly.
- Gradually add the rest of sugar in small increments while whisking.
- Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.
- To check on stiff peaks, pull up your whisk and see if the egg whites go straight up (stiff peak) and just the tip is soft enough that it folds over, like taking a bow.
- Using a whisk, whisk in ⅓ of the egg whites in the batter until the mixture is homogeneous.
- Fold in another ⅓ of the egg whites into the batter. This time, fold in gently without breaking the air bubbles.
- Now transfer the batter into the egg whites. Gently fold in egg whites into the batter. Make sure thoroughly mix WITHOUT breaking the air bubbles.
- Pour the batter into the ungreased 17 cm (7”) chiffon cake pan in the same location to prevent more bubbles from forming.
- To remove or prevent air pockets, run a skewer through the batter and then drop the pan gently on a counter holding the center tube and wall of cake pan together (so air won’t go into the bottom of the batter).
- Bake at 340ºF (170ºC) for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed. If the top gets burn too quickly (maybe the heat source is too close), cover the top loosely with aluminum foil.
- As soon as you take out the cake pan from the oven, drop it on the counter to shock the cake so it stops shrinking. The cake must be cooled upside down in its pan so that it stretches downward instead of collapsing. Stick the cake pan on a tall heavy bottle. If you use an angel food cake pan, invert the cake pan on a cooling rack.
- To remove the cake pan, run a thin sharp knife or thin offset spatula around both the inner and outer edges of the cake.
- Remove the cake from the pan and run the knife on the bottom. Move onto a serving plate or cake stand. Dust confectioners’ sugar/powder sugar on top, if you like. Enjoy!
- Make sure your beaters and mixing bowl are clean and dry. A speck of oil or egg yolk on either one can minimize the volume of the beaten egg whites.
- Avoid plastic bowls -- even clean ones may hold oily residue that can affect the beating quality of the egg whites.
- Use a bowl that's wide enough to keep the beaters from being buried in the egg whites.
- Do not overbeat or underbeat egg whites -- your cake may fall. Egg whites should be stiff but not dry.