Orange and Almond Chiffon Cake


We often turn to local chef, food consultant, cookbook author and expert baker, Priscilla Martel, for luscious recipes. Here’s a light and lovely gluten-free recipe for a cake that will brighten your Easter or Passover table.

by Priscilla Martel

Our Easter gathering will be a party of two this year.  But I know someone who will really enjoy this Orange and Almond Chiffon Cake, especially if I serve it with fresh raspberries and coconut sorbet. A moist chiffon cake combines the lightness of angel food cake with some of the richness of a butter cake.  Instead of butter, oil gives the cake its tender crumb. This gluten-free cake is ideal for Easter or Passover.

The original recipe for this cake comes from one of the books I wrote, On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals. Because I wanted a more nutritious treat, I replaced the wheat flour with finely ground almond flour. Cornstarch helps mimic the structure in a cake made with wheat flour so I added that too.

If you’ve never made a chiffon cake before, there are a few tricks. Whipped egg whites help leaven the batter in a chiffon cake. You’ll need a stand or hand-held mixer to get a nice firm egg foam. To make the final batter, you fold the almond flour and eggs yolks into the whipped egg whites. This step is easy but requires some care. First you lighten the almond flour mixture with some of the whipped egg whites. I like to fold in this first portion of egg white using a springy wire whisk. Then you fold in the remaining whites. This step I do with a rubber spatula.

The batter bakes in an ungreased tube plan, the kind with the column in the center. The metal column conducts heat into the delicate cake batter helping it bake evenly. In order to cool this fragile creation, you invert the cake over the neck of a slim wine bottle. In so doing, the cake cools before it can collapse onto itself. Or you could invert the cake onto a cooling rack.

A simple glaze made with orange juice, zest and powdered sugar gives it a finishing touch. Quality citrus is still plentiful as I write this. Juicy Mineola tangelos are what I used in the batter and glaze.

Kitchen Notebook

Be sure to check that the cornstarch you use is gluten-free. Although inherently gluten free, cornstarch may be manufactured on equipment shared with wheat products. In some Jewish households, cornstarch is not permitted in foods during Passover. Use potato starch measure for measure in place of the cornstarch in this recipe.

Orange and Almond Chiffon Cake

Yield: One 10-inch Tube Cake

Orange Chiffon Cake:

1 ¾ cups (6 ounces) blanched almond flour

¾ cup (3 ounces) cornstarch or potato starch*, sifted

1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

½ cup (4 fluid ounces) vegetable oil

6 egg yolks

½ cup (4 fluid ounces) orange juice

1 Tablespoon grated orange zest, about 2 oranges

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 egg whites

* To make this cake Kosher for Passover, use potato starch.

Orange Glaze:

3 ounces confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 Tablespoons orange juice

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Sliced almonds and dried strawberries, for garnish, optional

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Have an ungreased 10-inch tube or angel food cake pan ready. Find a long-necked wine bottle to use when cooling the cake in Step 7. (If it is empty, fill it with water to keep it from falling over when used.)
  • Stir together the almond flour, ¾ cup of the sugar, the baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla until well combines. Make sure there are not lumps in the mixture.  Fold the almond flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  • Beat the egg whites until foamy in the clean, grease-free bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Slowly beat in the remaining sugar. Continue beating until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
  • Stir one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites.
  • Pour the batter into the ungreased tube pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 1 hour.
  • Immediately invert the pan over the neck of the wine bottle. Allow the cake to hang upside down until it is completely cool. Loosen the edges of the cake with a long knife and remove the cake from the pan.
  • Stir the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the top of the cooled cake. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds and dried fruit, if using. Serve this cake the day it is glazed. It will keep covered for a few days at room temperature, but it may lose some of its volume.


Find more of Priscilla’s recipes on her website: