When I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday, I know there’s going to be a little more butter and cream in the mashed potatoes. The cornbread stuffing will have an extra dose of love (read: bacon fat) and I’ll help myself to second servings (maybe thirds) of my mom’s famous garlic cheese grits.
Admittedly, that’s a lot of heavy food. That’s why I’m bringing this chiffon cake for dessert. It’s light and fluffy, and so fragrant with citrus that it perfumes its surroundings.
How do you feel about fresh cranberries? I’ve been a little wary of their tartness, so I’ve mostly avoided using them as a garnish. But these! They are delicious because they get a bath in hot sugar syrup and then a toss in sparkling sanding sugar. They are a perfect bite of tart, crunch and sweetness and they crack between your teeth which makes them addictively poppable. I love how they look like sparkling gems on top of this cake. It was fun making them because they are so simple and beautiful.
This cake is a nice, light addition to a Thanksgiving feast, but it will also beautiful on a Christmas dessert buffet (those cranberries!). If you’ve never made a chiffon cake, then you should know that there’s quite a bit of egg-whipping involved. A standing mixer is helpful and preferred for this recipe.
I added marshmallow cream to the glaze on this cake, which is a good counter to all the feather-lightness. If marshmallow cream is not available to you, then it may be omitted from the recipe. This cake is still lovely with a basic confectioners’ glaze.
Orange Chiffon Cake with Sparkling Cranberries
- tube pan
- 2 cups/240 g all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups/300g granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 7 eggs separated
- 1/2 cup/125 ml orange juice 2 to 3 oranges, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 cup/125 ml vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup/50 ml water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange extract
- 2 tablespoons orange peel
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup/130 g confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk plus more for thinning, if needed
- 3.5 ounces marshmallow cream about half of a 7 ounce jar
- 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 1/2 cup/125 ml water
- 1/2 cup/100 g granulated sugar
- 8 ounces fresh cranberries
- 6 ounces sanding sugar
- Grated orange peel if desired
- Sift the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl; make a well in the center. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until thickened and light yellow in color, about 7 minutes.
- Beat in the orange juice, oil, water, vanilla, orange extract and orange peel. Pour the wet ingredients into the well of dry ingredients; combine with a large spoon or spatula until well incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar; beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold into batter with a large rubber spatula.
- Transfer the batter to an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 325°F for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert cake; cool completely. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a butter knife; remove the cake and place on a serving platter. Let cool completely.
- For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and whisk in the milk 1 tablespoon at a time. The mixture will be thick. Stir in the marshmallow cream and extract. Thin the mixture with additional milk, if needed. The mixture should be thick enough to fall in a thick ribbon from a spoon. Pour glaze evenly over the top of the cooled cake.
- For the cranberry garnish, heat the water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Place the fresh cranberries in a shallow dish and pour the sugar syrup over them. Stir them gently, then transfer them to a wire rack placed over a length of parchment. Allow them to dry slightly before rolling them in the sanding sugar. Garnish the top of the cake with the cranberries. Add grated orange peel, if desired.
- Store cake loosely covered on the counter top or under a glass cloche.