Chiffon Layer Cake with Chocolate and Whipped Cream Frosting

This is a cake to remember. The white, cloud-like, light-yet-moist cake layers are made with a chiffon batter, but baked in normal cake pans instead of the traditional chiffon tube pan, and the results are as beautiful as they are delicious. It is adorned with my all-time favorite frosting: an irresistible chocolate-cream cheese concoction, fluffed up by an airy dose of whipped cream.

I have to apologize for the hasty picture (and the lack of pics of the inside of the cake, which was beautiful), but this one shot was snapped in the few seconds before my house was filled with 12 enthusiastic, squealing 4-year-olds for Attilio’s birthday party. The rest is all a blur, and the leftovers were less-than-photogenic. All the more reason to bake it yourself, and see how beautiful it is on the inside!

Chiffon Layer Cake with Chocolate and Whipped Cream Frosting

For the cake layers:

  • 2 1/4 cups (310 g) sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) superfine or regular sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (12 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) cold water
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 9 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (40 g ) cocoa powder
  • 16 oz (450 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3.5 tablespoons (50 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) dark chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (250 ml) whipping cream
For 1 9-inch layer cake, about 10-12 servings

For the cake layers:

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Have two 9-inch round cake pans ready. Cut out a round of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan, but do not grease the sides. (Alternatively, this recipe yields on classic tube chiffon cake. Leave the cake pan ungreased, and use one with a removable bottom.)

Sift the flour, 1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar, baking powder and salt together twice into a large bowl.

In a another bowl, beat the yolks, water, oil, zest and vanilla on high speed until smooth. Stir into the flour mixture until smooth. In another large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat (with clean beaters!) the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar, and beat on high speed until the peaks are stiff but not dry.

Use a rubber spatula to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to fluff it up, then gently fold in the remaining whites (overmixing will deflate the egg whites, and yield a denser, shorter cake).

Scrape the batter into the two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake them in preheated oven until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean 35-45 minutes.

Let cakes cool on a rack for at least an hour. When completely cool, run a knife around the sides to release, then flip out onto a plate.

For the frosting:

Sift together half of the powdered sugar and all of the cocoa powder; set aside.

Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy, slowly add the sugar and cocoa mixture, then the melted chocolate, beating slowly until smooth.

In a separate bowl with clean beaters, whip the cream with the remaining powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until well combined.

Arrange one of the cakes on a serving platter, and scoop a generous amount of the frosting onto the surface of the cake and spread it evenly to the edges with an offset spatula. Carefully place the other cake on top of the frosting. Decorate the cake with the remaining frosting, completely covering the top and sides. Garnish with sprinkles and serve immediately, or keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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