When you think of chiffon cakes, you might not think of chocolate cake. While there are plenty of moist, light chocolate cakes out there, most of us associated chocolate cakes with bring richer, heavier and densely packed with chocolate flavor. This Chocolate Chiffon Cake still delivers plenty of chocolate flavor, but its light texture makes it a great cake for any occasion. Chiffon cakes also happen to be one of my favorite types of cake to bake, as I love both their fluffy crumb and their showstopping size.
The cake gets its flavor from dutch process cocoa powder, which is combined with hot water to deepen its flavor before it is combined with the rest of the ingredients. A natural cocoa powder could also be used in this recipe, but I find that dutch process results in a slightly more chocolatey cake in the end. Once it has been combined with water, the cocoa mixture is blended in with both the wet and dry ingredients to create the basic batter for this cake.
While there is a small amount of leavening in the batter, most of the leavening comes from beaten egg whites. The egg whites should be beaten to stiff peaks with a bit of sugar – take care to separate the sugar in the recipe so you have some for the base of the cake and for the meringue – to stabilize them, then folded into the rest of the batter to lighten it up. I recommend using a large bowl so that you have plenty of room to work your spatula and get everything incorporated!
The cake should be baked in a 10-inch tube pan that has not been greased, just like an angel food cake. The sides of the deep pan will give the chiffon cake plenty of room to rise nice and high in the oven. Also like an angel food cake, the chiffon cake should be turned upside down to cool. Most tube pans will have little “feet” on the edges that hold the cake up off the counter and allow for good air circulation while the cake is cooling, however you can place a glass bottle (soda, beer or wine) into the center of the pan to give it plenty of clearance while cooling, as well.
I serve the cake without any frosting, cut in generous slices. Traditional buttercream frostings tend to be too heavy for such a light cake. If you want to dress it up, pair it with lightly sweetened whipped cream instead of frosting and decorate it with chocolate shavings or fresh fruit.
Chocolate Chiffon Cake
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
8 large egg whites, room temperature
Preheat oven to 325F. Take out a 10-inch tube pan
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, salt and baking powder.
In a large bowl, whisk together hot water and cocoa powder, then allow to stand for 10 minutes to cool to room temperature. Whisk in vanilla extract, vegetable oil and egg yolks until well combined, then stir in the flour mixture.
In another large bowl, beat egg whites until frothy at medium speed, then turn the mixer up to high speed. Once the eggs have at least doubled in volume, gradually stream in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue beating until the eggs reach stiff peaks.
Fold the beaten eggs into the cocoa mixture, making sure no streaks of egg whites remain visible. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the cake is set and holds its shape when lightly pressed in the center.
Turn cake upside down to cool completely on the counter before sliding a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it. Invert cake onto a cake plate to serve.
Makes 1 cake; Serves 16.