Bake a Smoky-Sweet Chiffon Cake with Mezcal

And give it a lift with fragrant pomelo

Mezcal Chiffon Cake
Pomelo and Mezcal Chiffon Cake
Feather-light with a smoky citrus kickFarideh Sadeghin

Ever since I started baking, chiffon has been my favorite cake to make, eat, and, especially, say. Light like an angel food cake but enriched with egg yolks and fat added, this moist dessert is delicate and light but with a little more substance and less sweetness. And while adding solid ingredients to chiffon would weigh it down, the cake is very receptive to alcohol. It's the perfect vessel to impart a spirit's more subtle flavors without the usual alcoholic wallop. I fell in love with the idea after tasting Alice Medrich's chiffon cake imbued with vin santo, but recently I've been favoring the smoky touch of mezcal, my favorite tipple.

Pomelo is in season now, just in time to brighten up the chilly winter days. If you like grapefruit's tang but not its bitterness, this is the fruit for you, and its fragrant zest makes it an ideal citrus fruit for baking. It's also ideal for pairing with mezcal; the spirit's smoke plays well off the pomelo's perfumed zest in this cake, almost like a sophisticated paloma cocktail you can eat with whipped cream.