Well-loved for its rich flavor and smooth, tender texture, chiffon cake has been a staple in American baking since at least 1948. Our olive oil cake is a riff on the American classic. As legend has it, the recipe for chiffon actually first appeared in Los Angeles in 1923, when an insurance salesman and caterer named Harry Baker decided to start messing around with angel food cake in search of a more flavorful version of the popular dessert. Angel food gets its bouncy, light texture from whipped egg whites, but it lacks flavor because it doesn’t have a fat source ingredient like butter or shortening as most sweet cakes do. Baker allegedly tested over 400 recipes, trying different fats in different amounts in a largely unsuccessful attempt to richen the cake. Four years later, he finally stumbled upon the solution when he added vegetable oil (known as “salad oil” at the time) instead of a solid fat. The result was a much more flavorful version of angel food, with an even more heavenly texture.
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