My Grandma’s Orange Chiffon Cake

With its pillowy crumb and intoxicatingly floral aroma, this old-school dessert is perfect for teatime (or anytime).

  • Serves


  • Cook

    3 hours


By Peter Som

Published on December 20, 2022

Chiffon cake is similar to angel food cake yet richer and slightly denser, thanks to the addition of egg yolks. This version, adapted from my grandmother’s go-to recipe that she perfected over decades, makes a gorgeous meal-ender with its drippy icing and candied orange peels—and it’s far easier to make than it looks. 


For the cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. fine salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup finely grated orange zest
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. orange blossom water
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh orange juice, plus more as needed
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the candied orange peel:

  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp. orange blossom water


Step 1

Make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325ºF. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Step 2

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, orange blossom water, and yolks. Add the flour mixture in three additions,whisking to incorporate after each addition. 

Step 3

Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2–4 minutes. Using the spatula, fold ½ cup of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. (Do not overmix.)

Step 4

Scrape the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Smooth the surface, then rap the pan lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 50–60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely (do not unmold beforehand).

Step 5

Make the glaze: In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar, orange juice, and vanilla until glossy and slightly runny, adding additional orange juice by the teaspoon if the glaze looks too stiff. Cover and set aside.

Step 6

Make the candied orange peel: Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, remove the zest from the orange in long, wide strips, trimming away any pith. Cut the peel into ⅛-inch ribbons, then transfer to a microwave-safe bowl. Add the orange blossom water and ¼ cup of water and microwave on high until the peels are soft and slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup of the sugar and microwave until the liquid is syrupy and the peels are shiny, 2–4 minutes.

Step 7

To a medium bowl, add the remaining sugar. Using a fork and working in batches, quickly and carefully transfer the orange peels to the sugar. Toss to coat, removing any clumps before the peels cool. Transfer the sugared peels to a parchment-lined plate.

Step 8

To serve, run a paring knife around the perimeter of the pan and invert the cake onto a platter. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, then sprinkle with the candied orange peel.  

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