This cheerful Pink Lemonade Cake would be the perfect centerpiece for a springtime party. It’s bright pink color is eye-catching and the cake pops with lemon flavor – just like the drink it is named after. This is a chiffon cake, which is a fluffy, moist cake that is primarily leavened with meringue, much like angel food cake. The cake uses both fresh lemon juice and zest to give it a strong lemonade flavor, and it is topped with a drizzle of lemon glaze that makes the flavor stand out even more.
The main flavor in this cake is lemon, as is the main flavor in a glass of pink lemonade. Pink lemonade is regular lemonade that has been dyed pink using either food coloring or a small splash of a reddish fruit juice, such as strawberry, cherry or cranberry. The origins of pink lemonade are unclear, but almost every origin story claims that the color was added to regular lemonade by accident, and that the perky pink kept customers coming back for more. This cake also just has a splash of red added just to give it a pink color, not necessarily to add flavor. You can use a few drops of red food coloring, an “all natural red food coloring” or even a few teaspoons of all natural grenadine (a bar syrup made from pomegranates, although there are many versions that are little more than food coloring and corn syrup). Use restraint with the food coloring, since you want this cake to be pink and not red.
The inspiration for this cake came from a Pink Lemonade Cake printed in a recent issue of Cook’s Country. It looked beautiful and, since I love lemon, I tried it soon after getting the magazine. Unfortunately, it had very little lemon flavor and the cream cheese frosting nearly overwhelmed the tender cake, although it looked very pretty. I still loved the color, but used some of my favorite citrus chiffon cake recipes (Lime and Strawberry Lemonade) to boost the flavor considerably to make this cake a whole lot more lemony.
Chiffon cakes typically keep very well and this cake is no exception. It will stay moist and fresh for many days when stored in an airtight container, so it can easily be made a day or two in advance of when you want to serve it.
Pink Lemonade Cake
5 large eggs, divided and at room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon zest
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup canola oil
scant 1/4 tsp red food coloring
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, 1 1/3 cups sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, canola oil and red food coloring. Pour lemon mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined.
In another large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, whip egg whites until foamy. Add in cream of tartar and remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites reach soft peaks.
Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the flour mixture and stir them in. Add in another 1/3 of the egg whites and fold them in. Fold in remaining egg whites until batter is uniform and no light streaks of egg white remain visible. Pour into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Immediately invert the cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before removing it from the pan.
When cake is cooled, remove it from the pan and transfer it to a serving plate. Drizzle with lemon glaze (recipe below).
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 – 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth, adding confectioners’ sugar gradually until icing is thick enough to drizzle off the end of a fork easily. Drizzle over cooled cake.