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The Chiffon Cake is a well-known member of the foam cake family, although it is often considered to be a hybrid between a shortened and unshortened cake. It's because the cake contains added fat from vegetable oil, plus egg yolks, some sugar and water, mixed with flour (cake) and chemical leaveners (baking powder) to form a cake batter. Beaten egg whites with sugar are folded in at the end, and the recipe is then baked, giving it a texture that is light and airy, while at the same time richer and denser than other foam cakes. The added liquid fat (and also from the egg yolks) coats the flour proteins, much like a raincoat, which protect them against the liquid in the recipe and from forming gluten when mixed, helping make a tender cake. Since oil is always liquid at room temperature, a chiffon cake stays soft and moist, making it a better keeper than other types of foam cakes.
Chiffon Cakes are typically baked in Angel food cake pan with a center core and removable bottom. However, I bake this cake in layers, and even as cupcakes; instructions included with every recipe. The Angel food cake pan sides should not be greased, rather only their bottoms. When the cake is done and removed from the oven, it is turned upside down to cool so the spongy texture of the cake stretches, creating the open texture that's characteristic of chiffon cakes.
A California insurance salesman, Harry Baker, invented the recipe in 1927. He baked his cakes in the Los Angeles area and for Hollywood restaurants, but he never divulged the secret recipe. Harry decided that Betty Crocker should share in his special recipe and he traveled to Minneapolis to finally divulge the secret. And the Chiffon Cake was given to cooks across the nation. In 1948 Betty Crocker introduced the Chiffon Cake and hailed it as "the cake discovery of the century!" Up to this point cakes were either the light sponge cake or a heavier butter or shortening cake. This new invention combined the richness of the butter cake, but with the light spring of the Angel Food and Sponge Cakes.