Basic Chiffon Cake

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Executive Chef
Jun 3, 2004

Makes 1 (10-inch) tube cake, or 3 layers. Although the tube pan is traditional, we had no trouble turning this into a layer cake. Place circles of waxed paper on the bottom of the pan, but don't grease the sides. The cake clings to them to rise.

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 cup egg whites (7 to 8)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

PREHEAT oven to 325 degrees.

SIFT flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Beat until smooth with a spoon.

WHIP egg whites with cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Pour yolk mixture gradually over beaten egg whites, gently folding with a wide rubber spatula just until blended.

Pour batter into ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake 55 minutes. Raise temperature to 350 degrees and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, until surface springs back when lightly touched. (For layers, bake in 9-inch round cake pans at 325 degrees about 40 minutes, until tops spring back.)

INVERT pan on a rack immediately, or balance upside down on the tip of a funnel. Cool completely.

TURN cake right side up and rap sharply on counter to loosen. Run a thin-bladed knife around the outer edge and around the tube. Turn cake out and frost as desired.

VARIATIONS: For butterscotch, substitute 2 cups brown sugar (not packed) for granulated sugar and omit lemon zest. For orange, omit vanilla and lemon zest, use 3 tablespoons orange zest and use orange juice for some or all of the water. For chocolate chip, increase sugar to 1 3/4 cups and omit lemon zest. Fold in 3 ounces of grated semisweet chocolate just before pouring batter in pan.
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