Cakes go through trends just like everything else, and while chiffon cakes were hugely popular just a few decades ago, these days they tend to get upstaged by butter cakes and don’t get served quite as often. Chiffon cakes are foam cakes, cakes that are leavened primarily with beaten egg whites, just like angel food cakes are. In fact, they are very similar in appearance to angel food cakes and are usually baked in the same type of tube pan. Chiffon cakes, unlike angel food cakes, contain both egg yolks and vegetable oil. These two ingredients keep the cake moist, soft and tender and result in a cake that tastes great and keeps well.
Legend has it that the chiffon cake was invented in Los Angeles in the late 1920s by a baker and caterer named Harry Baker. The light and airy, yet moist, cake was a huge hit right off the bat. Although it was popular, Baker kept the recipe a secret for 20 years before finally selling the recipe to General Mills, which introduced it to the American public (via Betty Crocker) in 1948.
They may look delicate, but once the basic cake is in place, you can add all kinds of different flavors into a chiffon cake, whether you want a plain vanilla cake or want to add in some fresh strawberries. The finished cakes have a texture similar to that of an angel food cake, although they tend to be a bit sturdier and a bit more moist. They are typically baked in tube pans as angel food cakes are, but these cakes can also be baked into sheet cakes and cupcakes.