Time for the next step as we bake our way through American History with American Cake by Anne Byrn. We started all the way back in the 1600s but now we’re looking at 1946 to 1962 – the peaceful, affluent time after World War II – and the Orange Chiffon Cake. This was a time where America was experiencing the largest baby boom in history and that a new culture was developing around the suburbs, interstate highways and television.
We’ll take a closer look at the Orange Chiffon Cake, but first, I wanted to share some of what was going on in the world of baking during this time period.
- The subculture of this time period closely tied baking with femininity for women – this led to a rise of difficult recipes that were designed to impress friends and family, including the decorated white birthday cake, the German chocolate cake, the red velvet cake, etc.
- However, following the war, when women increasingly took on roles outside of the household – this time period also saw a rise in working women. And food companies, saw this as an opportunity to market products which provided convenience for these working women, such as cake mixes, microwaves and TV dinners.
- Although a fictional character created by a food company – Betty Crocker was a huge influence during these decades. She helped to popularize cake mixes in the 1950s and also associated cakes with every occasion!
- Cake mixes were a fixture in pantries by the end of the 1950s and they evolved to better mimic the homemade taste – for example, by eliminating the powdered egg and having the bakers add fresh eggs.
- This period of time was also when the 13×9 pan became extremely popular. It didn’t require assembly as a layer cake would, fed a lot of people and worked with many of the new cake types – such as the Fruit Cocktail Cake.
- This time period also brought the debut of the chiffon cake – one of the first cakes truly invented in America and lauded for it’s texture.
- The Kennedy administration also popularized a French style of baking cakes towards the end of this time period – as they brought a French chef to the White House.
Now’s let’s take a look at the…
Orange Chiffon Cake
The chiffon cake was created by Harry Baker, an insurance salesman and hobby baker who baked cakes for restaurants such as the Brown Derby. The chiffon cake had a secret ingredient – vegetable oil – that remained a closely guarded secret until Baker sold his recipe to General Mills in 1948. It also popularized substituting vegetable oil for butter in a variety of recipes.
First, you grate the lemon and orange zest.
Then you mix together the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Then you add in the wet ingredients, including egg yolks, vegetable oil, orange juice and the zest.
In a separate bowl, you beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Then you fold in the batter to the egg whites – maintaining as much volume as possible.
Then you bake in a tube pan. (Note – I baked in a bundt pan, this is a mistake! Or at least if you’re going to bake in a bundt pan, then you need to grease the pan…I think….)
After the cake comes out of the oven – you cool upside down.
Glaze with orange glace (powdered sugar and orange juice), slice and serve!
This cake was delicious – but didn’t come out of the pan quite as well as we’d hoped, probably due to the fact that I used the incorrect pan! Still a yummy cake!
We’re getting closer to the end of the book, but still have a few cakes left for you!