Airy Fairy: Coconut & Vanilla Chiffon Cake
Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Growing up with a Thai chef mum, I spent my afternoons coming home from school to a house that smelt of baking. Mum could whip up any kind of cake and it would fill the kitchen with that gorgeous warm, inviting and delicious fragrance.
My mum was best known for her sponge and chiffon cakes. Her technique was so sharp that she could "whip up" a chiffon cake with her eyes closed and have it come out perfection. My absolute favourites were her vanilla chiffon and pandan cakes, the combination of pandan and coconut was like eating clouds on an island in the Pacific. This inspired me recently to see whether I inherited the sponge cake gene.
Some key things to note:
Chiffon cakes are very light and fluffy in character which is achieved by separation of the egg yolk and whites to create the meringue that holds it together and inspires the 'fluff'. A key difference between chiffon and sponge is that chiffon generally uses oil (in this recipe we use coconut oil).
The pan matters. Chiffon is usually baked in a tube pan that allows the cake batter to climb up the centre tube during the baking process. This lets it rise to create the light textures by expanding its surface area.
The cooling stage requires the cake to be placed upside down (hence the need for a specific pan) that encourages the use of gravity to continue expanding the batter as it cools.
If you are like me and have limited utensils, you can opt to bake it in a regular round tin (try not to use non-stick, as the idea is to make the batter stick to the sides to climb up). Avoid using bundt tins or patterned pans as the pockets can compress the sponge making it dense and rubbery in sections once baked.
For this recipe I used a standard round baking tin. I couldn't quite let it cool upside down so the size was limited, but the texture and flavour came out absolutely divine! I hope you enjoy this cake as much as did because it lasted about 1.5 days in our house!