Creativity is an interesting thing for me. I don’t naturally seek it out, it comes to me whenever I’ve been given a challenge. Like how do I take what I have in my pantry and make a spring-themed cake. The first few thoughts that run through my head are: What are spring flavors? What kind of cake is bright and cheery? Naturally, I tried googling “spring cake” ideas, but often, none of those ideas spark my interest. I wanted to play with a cake I had little experience with – exploring egg-based cakes. There’s so many from french jaconde to angel food cake to chiffon cake. All of these cakes play a variation on how the eggs are incorporated and whether it’s more egg white or whole egg based. And I decided to take on the chiffon cake, a light, fluffy, mildly sweet cake. And my twist on the chiffon cake is a lemon poppyseed flavor with an egg-based (dairy-free) coconut frosting. Boy was this such a good cake!
Lemon is always such a bright flavor and when used lightly, it’s not too bold and overwhelming. The tanginess of lemon brings out a beautiful fragrance in the cake and lifts the flavors up. It rounds out sweetness without being too rich like a triple chocolate cake, but flavorful enough to stand out with other flavors. I also have a soft spot for poppyseeds, so lemon-poppyseed it was! Half the time I think poppyseeds are just a great addition for the pretty speckles in baked goods, but it truly has a flavor of its own – just add several tablespoons of it haha. I say to use 3 tablespoons, here, but can be totally adjusted – there can never be too many poppyseeds!
And to round off the spring-time feeling for this cake, I opted to use a dairy-free frosting. It’s entirely egg white based, and essentially a soft meringue. The frosting is cooked over the stove top and can be used even while a little warm, so you don’t have to wait for every to cool completely like most buttercream frostings. This meringue frosting is super fluffy and white, which really accentuates the coconut idea. I like to used toasted coconut as well for that additional burst of flavor, but use plain coconut for the white frosting. This is a super light frosting and the hint of coconut is perfect for even those who may not generally enjoy coconut flavors since coconut milk isn’t used in the recipe. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I did! Literally still drooling looking at these pictures!
Coconut Poppyseed Chiffon Cake
Poppyseed Chiffon Cake
- 7 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1-1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 3 Tbsp poppyseeds
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 3/4 cup milk (I used soy)
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded coconut (optional toasted)
- Poppyseed Chiffon Cake: Using an electric whisk, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until it is foamy and increasing in volume. Then slowly add in 1/2 cup sugar and continue whisking for a few minutes until stiff, glossy peaks form.
- In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, poppyseeds).
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- In a third bowl, whisk the wet ingredients (egg yolks, 1 c sugar, oil, vanilla, lemon juice) until pale yellow.
- Alternatively add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/3 of milk to the wet ingredients, and continue adding the batches and whisking until well incorporated.
- Using a spatula, gently fold in the egg whites. This is what makes the cake light, so if in doubt, under mix.
- Pour cake batter into 2 – 9″ cake pans, ungreased. Bake for 30 minutes. Then increase oven temperature to 350ºF and continue baking for about another 10 min, or until cake turns golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. To cool the cake, turn the cake and pan upside down on a cooling rack until room temperature. Then use a spatula to help release the sides and bottom of the cake from the pan.
- Coconut Frosting: While the cake bakes, make the frosting. Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar on the top half of a double boiler on low heat.
- Using an electric whisk, beat the egg mixture until it begins to thicken. Then add in vanilla extract and continue whisking on med-high till stiff peaks form. Remove from heat and stir in coconut. Let it cool to about room temperature before use.
- Assembly: Set the first cake on the serving plate. Using a small portion of the frosting, create a crumb layer coat to seal in all the crumbs. Then frost the first layer with about 1/3 of frosting. Layer the second cake on top. Repeat the crumb layer and frosting layer. Then frost the sides of the cake till completely covered. Garnish with more toasted coconut as desired.
- Cream of tartar is essential for stabilizing the whipped frosting
- For a whiter frosting, only toast 1/4 c of coconut for decoration and mix in un-toasted coconut in the frosting
- Double boiler method: Use 2 pots or a heat-proof bowl on top of a pot, where the lower pot has about 2-3 cups of boiling water
- Cake based on King Arthur Flour’s recipe
- Frosting based on The Spruce Eat’s recipe
Did you make this recipe?
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