The Same Only Different – Mom’s Marble Chiffon Cake, Gluten Free

Oh chiffon.  How I love you.  Some of you may have read my baking-wreck post, Fallen Angel, where I mentioned my beautiful disaster baking an angel cake.   And where I learned the oh-so-not-so subtle difference between angel and chiffon cakes.  Apparently I arrived tardy to home-ec class on angel v. chiffon day.

For almost, um, let’s say many years,  I’ve wondered about those cakes my mother used to make that hung upside down to cool.  They certainly weren’t as memorable as some of her other recipes and that’s undoubtedly because the chiffon cakes were for company consumption and not for greedy (hungry) children.  The kids saw little of company cake.

But recently, a neighbor from the old childhood homestead mentioned my mother’s chiffon cake to me after we were reacquainted on Facebook.  She was a young mom back then and apparently my mother would make her marble chiffon cakes to help  bring about the birth of her babies when her due-date came and went.  I’d almost forgotten those chiffon cakes until then.  Sadly, she didn’t have the recipe.

I did some Google reading and the light bulb blasted on.  My mother was all things American housewife back in the late 1950 and into the  60’s before she died.  Although she taught me most of the old heirloom family recipes (none were written down), she rarely taught me how to make the stuff that she prepared from new recipes.  The chiffon, having been released to the masses (see baking wreck post) during that time frame, meant that she probably read it in a magazine or found it on the back of a box of something from the grocery.

Since we rarely had magazines in the house (too expensive) I presumed that it would have been on the back of some ingredient package, like cocoa.  I searched for recipes dating back to that century and there it was.  On the back of a Hershey’s Cocoa box right where my Sherlock brain had imagined it would be.

But I couldn’t be sure until I baked the thing.  So I got to work.

I updated the recipe.  First it had to be gluten free.   I prefer other cocoa rather than Hershey’s (sorry, Hershey’s) and peanut oil rather than veggie oil, and I always try to use organic eggs.  And the addition of liquor is purely for flavor.  Really.

But holy cow, it worked.  This was my mother’s marble chiffon cake to the crumb, only better (sorry, mom).  I added a few things she would have never thought of because in our house we only had Manischewitz wine, and I think it improves the flavor (that would be the liquor which improves most everything).

So here we go – Gluten Free Marble Chiffon Cake – retro but updated.  Delicious and perfect for company, but also stunning for a mid-morning snack with coffee.  And aside from the long baking time and the number of bowls, it is pretty easy and forgiving.

Mom’s Gluten Free Marble Chiffon Cake

(adapted from Hershey’s)

  • 1.5 cups of superfine sugar (plus two tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup of peanut oil (plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/3 cup of really hot water, almost boiling
  • scant 3/4 cup of cold drinking quality water
  • 2 scant cups of gluten free flour (I used 1 cup of oat, 1/2 cup superfine brown and 1/2 cup mixed gluten free corn starch and potato starch)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 7 large eggs separated (whites at room temperature, yolks cold)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Godiva liquor (or whatever you like)
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (yep, whatever you like)

Preheat oven to 325.  Have a tube pan ready, ungreased.

Mix and sift the flour blend with 1/2 cup of the sugar and baking powder.  Sift a few more times. Set aside.

Sift the cocoa into a bowl and add the very hot 1/3 cup liquid.  Mix and let sit for a minute.  Adding very hot water blooms the cocoa flavor.  Now add the 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar, 2 tablespoons oil and mix until smooth.  Add the Godiva liquor and mix again.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer whip the room temperature egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until frothy.  Add 1/2 cup of superfine sugar slowly and whip on high until stiff peaks form and it is glossy.

To the flour mixture, add 1/2 cup of peanut oil, the egg yolks, the scant 3/4 cup of water and vanilla.  Add the Grand Marnier.  Mix thoroughly.

Dump the whipped egg whites into a huge bowl and slowly add the flour-batter mixture folding as you go.  Take your time – you don’t want to deflate the whites very much, but you want to thoroughly mix in the batter.

Take about 1/3 of the batter and plop (yes, that is a baking term) into the chocolate mixture and fold gently until well blended.

In an ungreased tube pan, place half of the light batter in the bottom and using your spatula make sure there are no tunnels or air bubbles.  Next add in half the chocolate mixture – it won’t cover the light-colored batter but drop it by spoonfuls in the center so you form a ring of chocolate batter.

Repeat – ending with chocolate on top.  Using a butter knife gently swirl the batter to create the marbling.  Less is more.

Bake for almost 45-50 minutes and keep checking.  You want the top to look very golden brown.  This one baked for almost 75 minutes.  Don’t worry if it takes more time than you think – try the toothpick test.

When it is done, remove from the oven and listen for the fun crackle-pop noise the cake makes.  Then turn that puppy upside down on a wine bottle or other tall glass bottle and let it cool for about an hour.  Run a butter knife along the edge and remove to a cake place.



15 responses to “The Same Only Different – Mom’s Marble Chiffon Cake, Gluten Free

  1. What an attractive cake! What is the consistency like? Is it dry or moist? Way to go at tracking down the long lost recipe!

    • The consistency is a lot like a regular chiffon cake. It isn’t dry at all, but not gooey either. It does dry out after about 4 days, but if you keep it covered it remains quite moist for a couple of days – if it lasts that long. Thanks! It really fell together when I thought about the “cake era” and did a little looking.

  2. Wow, this looks so good. Such a delicate, airy crumb. Yum.

  3. Would that be “1/2 cup superfine brown” rice flour? I’m new to this and don’t want to mess up what looks to be a marvelous recipe.

    • Good question – I didn’t specify that. And indeed, you are absolutely right. It is 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour. But feel free to use a total of 2 cups of whatever GF flour you enjoy.

  4. Holy crap, this looks amazing! But as one unversed in the world of baking with cup measurements, I have to ask: what is a scant cup?

    If you have this in ounces or grams, please add! I would love to make this. 🙂

    • Rachel – Scant in this case is to err on the side of under-filling the cup. You can always always add more dry ingredients but you can’t take it out. GF flours tend to soak up the liquids more readily than AP flour and that contributes to a dry cake – so I usually under measure the flour. I am going to re-test making the cake again with weights for everything (oh, poor me…) but for a preliminary flour measure, try this: GF Oat flour = 88g. Superfine brown rice flour = 57g. And about a 50/50 mix of gluten free cornstarch and potato starch=65g (total together). That ought to work just fine. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have more questions and thanks for asking about the measures. I am slowly converting all the recipes to both. I like weights, too.

  5. OMG this looks heavenly….. I’m definitely going to make this for my hubby’s birthday. Thanks much!

  6. Looks good. I can’t tolerate oats. Could I sub with almond flour or would it make the cake too heavy? Als0 – it would be great to LIKE your site via Facebook, to be able to get your updates there. Any plans for this?

  7. My 4 year old just saw this cake and exclaimed, “That’s my cake! I want that one!” Now I will have to prepare this cake and figure out how to put a canon shooting canon balls on it! Hmmmm.

  8. WOW. This did not taste anything like gluten free cake! I’m very impressed. It was really fantastic.

  9. OMGoodness I just found your site today while gazing about on FoodGawker. This recipe looks fabulous. My Mom always used to make Daffodil Cake for my birthday which was marbled like this but was yellow and white. Yellow was flavoured with lemon zest and white was the angelfood part. I am hopeful now with all your work I might be able to try a GF Daffodil Cake.
    Thanks so much for all your trial ans testing.

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