Lemon Chiffon Cake


So my birthday is almost here. Wednesday I will be turning the big 32.  Yep, thirty-two. I don’t mind the whole getting older thing, the thing that is weird is that I don’t feel 32. When did I become a thirty-something? I still feel like I an 18 year old who should not be allowed to live by myself, drink alcohol,or  let alone live with a guy! (Or 2 guys for that matter if you count Chumley)  32 is seriously adult.


Maybe one day I will wake up and feel like an adult but I certainly don’t know when. So in honor of my upcoming  birthday, I thought I would make myself my most favorite cake in the entire world (because you can do that when you are a grownup). This cake is  seriously the best. The Lemon Chiffon Cake from Tartine Bakery is one of the top five in my book.


I was first introduced to this cake when I moved to SF and it was love at first sight.I am not the only one. This cake has reached cult status in the Tartine world and is their most popular cake.  Layers of tender lemon chiffon cake with caramel and lemon cream sandwiched in between, all covered with a dreamy Italian meringue that has been burnt with a blow torch.  This cake is the stuff that dreams are made of. Plus,  I think I like desserts better when they involve a blow torch.


I introduced Luke to this cake and he is also a big fan. We actually wanted this as our wedding cake but logistically it was a nightmare. Instead I whip this recipe out whenever there is a special occasion. I am actually heading home to Florida for Thanksgiving and am thinking of making a Key Lime version of this cake for my nephew’s christening. (You could also do orange and make it like a creamsicle cake!)

This cake takes a little bit of time and effort but if you have someone who loves lemon (or frankly just loves cake) make this for them. There are somethings that can be easily changed to make it more of a user-friendly cake – like buying pre-made caramel and even buying pre-made lemon curd and lighten it with whipped cream to make a lemon cream. Sadly there is not short cut for the meringue but it is pretty easy if you have a Kitchen Aid. Plus whoever you make this cake for will be uber impressed that you own a blow torch!


Lemon Chiffon Cake
  • Chiffon Cake
  • 1 1/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cups vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 large egg whites at room temperature
  • Lemon Syrup
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • Italian Meringue
  • 1 cup of egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of homeade Lemon Cream or store bought lemon curd lighted with whipped cream
  • 1 1/2 cup of caramel either store bought or homemade

Preheat oven to 350 F and line the bottom of 2 10" round cake pans with parchment paper.

Sift flours and baking powder together into a bowl of a kitchen aid or a large bowl. Mix in 1 1/4 cups of sugar and the salt. In another small bowl, whisk together oil, egg yolks, water, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix this mixture into the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

In the bowl of a kitchen aid, whip egg whites adding cream of tartar when the eggs become frothy. MIx on medium high speed until egg whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and whip whites until glossy and hold a stiff peak. Using a rubber spatula, fold in 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the cake base. Once combined, add the remaining egg whites. Pour batter into pan and bake until a tester comes out clean - about 45 to 55 minutes.

Once the cakes are baked, run a knife around the inside of the cake to loosen it from the sides then put cakes directly in the freezer to cool. Once the cakes are cool, you can begin to assemble the cake.

Make the lemon syrup by combining the water and sugar over medium heat until all of sugar is dissolved. Pull off the heat and add the lemon juice.

Cut each cake in half and on a cake stand or serving tray put down one of the halves of the cake. With a pastry brush, brush the cake with lemon syrup until moist then put down a layer of caramel and top that with a layer of lemon cream. Repeat with the next two layers. Put the final layer on the cake, put plastic wrap over the cake and place in the freezer or refrigerator to set overnight (I prefer freezer because it is easier to work with very cold cakes). After the cake has been cooled overnight, remove the cake from the freezer and begin to make the meringue.

Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer. Set the bowl over a double boiler and whisk the egg mixture until it reaches 120 on a candy thermometer. Place the bowl on the kitchen aid base and with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they are stiff, fluffy and shinny.

Once the meringue is ready frost the cake. Make sure to make big swooping motions to get some height and detail in the frosting, When you are happy with the amount of frosting, take a blow torch and lightly run it over the cake until the desired color is reached. This cake will last in the refrigerator for up to a week.


P.S.  I wanted to show you where I took this picture. This is not my normal spot but I was running out of light in my apartment so I ran to the only window that had light and I managed to capture the beautiful sunset. That cake has the best seat in the house!





  1. dad says

    Your photograhy is unbielievable— Happy Happy 32 — I am thrilled that you will be here to share your birthday with us — DAD

  2. claudia says

    oh dear lord! marie antoinette was right, “Let them eat cake’.
    stunning photos… and the caramel oozing… crazy yummy!
    see ya soon, kid

  3. Kristen says

    Happy Birthday, Amanda!!! Enjoy every minute celebrating with your family. Very special to have a birthday and a christening. Thanks for sharing your zest for cooking (pun intended) life, love, fun, and friendships through your words and your photography. Love and blessings to you all. Kristen and Mike

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