Gluten-Free Orange Chiffon Cake with Creamy Orange Glaze.
Don’t worry, you can use wheat flour if you must.
This is by far my kids’ favorite cake for birthdays, Shabbat, and other special days. I’ve baked it in honor of myself for Mother’s Day, and sent it off to “dessert dashes” at auctions to raise money for local schools and non-profits. Sometimes I bake this because we need something good to happen, and this cake cheers us all up.
This works equally well with gluten-free flour blends and unbleached all-purpose wheat flour, but I think it’s at its very most delicious when I use a particular blend of gluten-free flours – Scroll down for that recipe. This is my version of Gloria Kaufer Greene’s Orange Chiffon Cake from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook; I’ve changed the oil, measured the egg whites for those of us using non-standard egg sizes (like the ones many backyard hens lay), and adjusted the directions for gluten-free flours.
Orange Chiffon Cake
This cake can be eaten as soon as it’s cooled, but the flavor is even better the day after baking. It will stay fresh for a few days, actually, without any loss of flavor or texture, so long as you keep it covered (a glass cake dome works perfectly for this).
- 10″ tube pan aka an angel food cake pan, the sort with a tube in the center and a removable base. Confused about what sort of pan you need? Read this article from Cooking Club.
- A bottle to upend your hot cake pan on. I use a wine bottle that fits perfectly inside the hollow center tube of my pan. Do track down a bottle of the right size before you have a hot cake on your hands. The cake needs to cool upside down in order to keep its loft, and I find a bottle is even better than the legs attached to some tube pans for just this purpose; the height of the bottle gives the cake better cooling air flow.
- 8 large eggs, or up to 10 eggs from your own hens, separated (set 3 yolks aside for another use)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or the cooking oil of your choice (extra virgin olive oil will give it a lovely extra tang)
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or the cooking oil of your choice
- 3/4 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed (don’t strain out the pulp)
- Freshly grated zest from 3/4 of an orange (approx. 1 Tablespoon zest) (since you need this and more for the glaze, you might as well juice the orange after removing the zest, to get that freshly squeezed juice)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon orange extract, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
- 2 cups flour – either the gluten-free flour blend below or plain old all-purpose unbleached wheat
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Set out your ungreased and very clean tube pan. If it doesn’t have a removable bottom, grease the bottom then cut a piece of parchment paper to cover the greasy bottom; this will help the cake come out in one piece.
- Separate the eggs, putting 5 yolks into a large mixing bowl and the whites into a large measuring cup. You need 1 cup of egg whites, so you may need more than 8 if you’re using eggs from backyard hens. Pour the whites into a very large mixing bowl, either stainless steel or glass; if you have a stand mixer, put the egg whites into its bowl. I use my stand mixer for the egg whites and my hand mixer for the yolks.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder. Set aside.
- Turn your attention to the bowl with the yolks. Add the oils, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla and other extracts. Mix everything well, until creamy and smooth. Then add the flour/sugar/baking powder mixture about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Beat with an electric hand mixer, or get a free workout by mixing it by hand. If you’re using wheat flour, beat until it’s all fluffy and paler in color; if you’re using the gluten-free flour blend, beat until it’s a smooth, sticky mass with no lumps at all. At this point, the gluten-free batter will look like a horrible mistake; don’t worry about that, it will all work out.
- Now it’s time to deal with the egg whites. Make sure your mixer’s beaters are very clean; if you have a whisk attachment, use that. Add the cream of tartar to the whites and beat until frothy. With the mixer’s motor running at a medium-high speed, add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar very slowly but evenly. I tip the measuring cup ever so slightly to allow a very fine veil of sugar to fall into the whites. Once all the sugar has been added, crank the speed up a bit on the mixer and beat the whites until they’re very thick, very stiff, and glossy. You want them to hold every little peak when you turn the mixer off, but don’t beat them so long that they lose their shine.
- Take about 1/4 of the egg whites and stir them gently but firmly into the yolk mixture. Blend until every bit of white has been mixed in, lightening both the color and texture of the yolk mixture.
- Add the lightened yolk batter to the rest of the egg whites and fold them gently together until no streaks of white remain.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan. Smooth the top, then bang the pan once or twice firmly on the countertop, to release any hidden air pockets.
- Bake on the center rack of your oven at 350 F until the cake is fully set, the center springs back after a light touch, and a toothpick poked into the center of the batter comes out clean (a few moist but clearly defined crumbs are OK; goo is not). This takes about 1 hour in my oven, but I start checking at 50 minutes.
- Once the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and immediately invert it onto the bottle you prepared earlier. Let it cool completely like this, suspended upside down.
- When cake has cooled, remove it from the bottle and set it upright. Run a knife carefully around the edges, then invert it onto a plate. If necessary, use the same knife to set the cake free from the removable bottom of the pan, or peel off the parchment paper if you used a pan without a removable bottom.
- Decorate as desired – The Creamy Orange Glaze below is both beautiful and delicious, but plain powdered sugar sifted all over is also lovely. If you have any edible flowers handy, by all means use those to adorn the glazed cake.
Creamy Orange Glaze
This glaze calls for a small amount of butter, but you can substitute ghee if you’re casein-free; ghee gives it an even richer flavor. You can also use a vegan buttery stick instead of either butter or ghee.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter, ghee, or your favorite vegan buttery replacement
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
- 2 – 4 Tablespoons orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
- Freshly grated orange zest as desired
- Combine the powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla and other extracts in a medium bowl. Stir well, until most or all of the buttery lumps have been incorporated. Add the orange juice a bit at a time, stirring well between each addition, until you have a smooth, drizzly glaze. When you tip it from a spoon, you want it to hesitate just slightly, then run off the edge in a clean ribbon. If it’s not runny enough, add a bit more juice; if it’s too runny, add a bit more powdered sugar.
- Spoon the glaze immediately over the cooled cake, letting it run down the sides. Sprinkle the fresh zest on top if desired, as much or as little as you’d like. If you have edible flowers, adorn the cake with those just before serving, around the base and top. Even just a few blossoms add a wonderfully celebratory final touch.
Gluten-Free Flour Blend for Orange Chiffon Cake (and other baking)
Yes, this makes a big batch. You can cut it in half if you’d like.
- 6 cups sorghum (aka milo) flour
- 6 cups potato starch (NOT potato flour)
- 2 cups coconut flour
- 1 Tb xanthan gum
- Whisk everything together very well. Use 1:1 as a substitute for all-purpose unbleached wheat flour in cake and cookie recipes.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool spot.
If you bake this cake, please let me know what you think of it! I’m hoping you’ll love it as much as my family does.