At last! Cooler weather and the chance to enjoy fall flavors and oven-baked goodies has come to Northern California. And, some rain has refreshed our parched earth, to the extent that our roses are blooming. There is not the usual change of color to the foliage, but it is there, to a lesser degree.
I have been looking at this recipe for pumpkin chiffon cake for a while now. When was the last time you made a chiffon cake? I know, it’s an old-fashioned concept. The chiffon cake was developed by a man, Harry Baker ( a most appropriate surname), in 1927. He held on to the recipe for almost twenty years before he finally sold it to General Mills. I wish I had thought of this cake. It’s a genius combination of both cake-making methods. You have a batter, made with egg yolks, vegetable oil, flour, and flavorings that gets combined with beaten egg whites. Voila! A cake that has richness but a light and airy texture. A chiffon cake is not lean and flavorless, like angel food cake, it’s not dry, like genoise. The crumb stays soft and tender, unlike a butter cake, which can become quite firm if refrigerated. This pumpkin cake has the further advantage of being gluten-free. I was skeptical initially, because my limited experience with gluten-free baking has produced less than stellar results. But boy was I wrong about this one! It is fabulous! The cake is moist and light, with just the right amount of spice. The pumpkin flavor comes through, clear and clean, not overwhelmed with sweetness.
The cake will climb up the sides of the pan, then shrink back as it cools. Once it is completely cool, you can lift away the sides of the pan and apply a judicious coating of spiced sugar to the top and sides of the cake. This is the only garnish required.
To store the cake, cover it with plastic wrap or a cake dome. It will stay fresh at room temperature for about three days. It’s every bit as good for breakfast as it is for dessert. A certain family member enjoyed it with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream. My gluten-allergic friend said it was the best gluten-free cake she’d ever eaten, and that I should market it. I can take no credit for this recipe; it is the work of Alice Medrich, pastry chef extraordinaire! You can find the recipe here . I made it exactly as it is presented on the Food52 website. I highly recommend you give it a try. As for chiffon cake, watch this space. My lemon tree is covered with fruit and blossoms, and now I have an idea what to do with those amazing fruits.