Blood Orange Olive Oil Chiffon Cake

Last night we had the most amazing cheesecake at our favorite restaurant. It was a mascarpone cheesecake with strawberry compote and brown sugar oat crumble baked in a mason jar. This usually heavy dessert was transformed into a surprisingly light and creamy jar of summer. I am no cheesecake whiz but I am inspired. This chiffon cake reminds me of Taiwanese cakes, spongy, light, and with just enough sweetness to be a cake but not to be a cloyingly sweet cake. 

Prep: 30 minutes     Bake: 55-60 minutes     Oven: 325°F     Cool: 2 hours

Tools: electric mixer (I used a hand held mixer and a separate stand mixer to avoid contamination of my  egg whites), spatula, 2 large mixing bowls, 2 small bowls, measuring spoons and cups, zester, 10-inch tube pan, sturdy small neck bottle. 

7 eggs
2 1/4 c sifted cake flour
1 1/2 c granulated white sugar
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c blood orange olive oil
2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3/4 c cold water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1. Separate eggs VERY CAREFULLY. This can make or break your cake. Make sure all tools used are clean, without any amount of oil.Even a trace of yolk will compromise the volume of beaten egg whites. I usually separate out one egg at a time, lumping my yolks together and using a small bowl for each egg white that gets emptied out to its final destination before the cracking of the next egg. This way, if a yolk breaks into my whites, I don't have to throw out a whole bowl of almost perfect whites.

2. While your eggs are coming to room temperature, in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Add egg yolks, oil, zest, vanilla, and water. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes more. Should be satiny smooth.

3. In a very large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Pour batter in a thin stream over beaten egg whites; fold in gently. Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan evenly. Make sure the rack in the oven is low enough that when the cake rises, it doesn't hit the top.

4. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until top springs bake when lightly touched. Resist the tempation to open the oven door more than you have to otherwise the cake might deflate. Once removed from the oven, immediately invert cake while it's still in the pan. Cool for about 2 hours before loosening the sides of cake from pan. Remove cake, decorate as you please. Serve pretty or just as is!

Chiffon Cake: Said to have been created in the late 1940s by a professional baker, chiffon cake is distinguished from others of its genre by the fact that oil, rather than solid shortening, is used. It contains leavening, such as baking powder, and stiffly beaten egg whites, which contribute to its rather spongecake-like texture. (Food Lover's Companion 4th Ed.)

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook 75th Anniversary Edition


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