A chiffon cake is a splendidly tall, wildly easy, oil-based cake. It is rich in flavor from egg yolks, yet wonderfully light in texture because of copious amounts of stiffly peaked whites. The cake is whisked together in a single bowl (you’re welcome) except for the whipped whites, which get added at the end.

Here, ground hazelnuts replace some of the flour and contribute wonderful texture (and color) to the cake’s moist, airy crumb. And a ganache made of Nutella, or your favorite brand of hazelnut chocolate spread, not only adds welcome sweetness, but also beautifully complements the toothsome, flavor and texture of the ground hazelnuts in the cake.

NOTES: Chiffon cakes are traditionally baked in an ungreased tube pan with a removable bottom, in a low oven, for a long time. And it is when the cake emerges from the oven that the drama really begins. Rather than cool the cake right-side up on a rack, the cake is turned upside down to cool. Many tube pans come with tabs or feet that allow you to invert the pan for cooling. If yours does not, suspend the pan on the neck of a bottle, such as a wine bottle. This will help the cake retain its height. (If you don't have a suitable pan or a bottle that works with your pan, the cake should deflate only slightly.)

There is no need to peel the hazelnuts, as the skins add color and texture, too. If you do not have a food processor, consider buying hazelnut flour.

Make Ahead: Make the cake up to 36 hours before you want to serve it and store it at room temperature, unglazed and covered with a large bowl or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Like other oil-based baked goods, it is even better on the second day.

Storage Notes: Leftover cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.


For the cake

  • 7 large eggs, cold or at room temperature, whites and yolks separated
  • 1 2/3 cups (335 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) cold tap water
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) vegetable or hazelnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups (225 grams) cake flour
  • 1 cup (130 grams) whole hazelnuts, finely ground in a food processor, or 1 1/2 cups (130 grams) hazelnut flour or hazelnut meal (see NOTE)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Chopped hazelnuts, for decorating

For the ganache

  • 1 cup (285 grams) Nutella or another chocolate-hazelnut spread
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or hazelnut oil

Step 1

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Have ready an ungreased 10- to 12-cup tube pan with a removable bottom.

Step 2

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 1 cup (200 grams) of the sugar and the water for about 30 seconds, until the mixture lightens slightly in color. Whisk in the oil, baking powder, vanilla and salt.

Sift the cake flour into the bowl, add the ground hazelnuts and whisk until just combined.

Step 3

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low until the egg whites become frothy, about 2 minutes. Next, whip the mixture on medium-high until, when you lift the whisk out, a soft peak forms and flop over at the tip, about 3 minutes.

With the mixer on medium, slowly add the remaining 2/3 cup (135 grams) of granulated sugar to the egg whites. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue whisking until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. If they flop over, they need more time; if they hold a point, you’re set.

Step 4

Gently fold a third of the whipped whites into the batter until they disappear. Be sure to fold with the lightest touch, so as not to deflate the whipped egg whites. Add another third and fold them in, followed by the final one, folding until just combined.

Step 5

Transfer the batter to the pan, smooth the top with a small offset spatula and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed with a fingertip and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out with a moist crumb.

Step 6

Remove from the oven and, if possible, invert the cake onto a thin-necked bottle, such as a wine bottle. Cooling the cake upside down keeps it from slightly deflating (see NOTE). Let cool for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.

Step 7

To remove the cake from the pan, gently run a long knife around the outside edge of the cake and around the inside tube. Remove the sides of the pan, run the knife between the bottom of the cake and the pan and carefully lift the cake off the pan. Place it on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.

Step 8

To make the ganache, place the Nutella in a small bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until tiny bubbles appear around the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the cream over Nutella and let it sit for about 1 minute. Using a fork, begin stirring from the center of the bowl until the cream and Nutella are thoroughly combined. Add the oil and continue to stir until emulsified.

Step 9

Generously drizzle the cooled cake with the ganache, letting it decoratively drip down the sides. You will have some ganache left over. Let the glazed cake set briefly, about 15 minutes, before serving. Slice and serve with more ganache.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (1 slice), based on 16 slices from a cake baked in a 12-cup tube pan

Calories: 406; Total Fat: 23 g; Saturated Fat: 8 g; Cholesterol: 92 mg; Sodium: 151 mg; Carbohydrates: 45 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 31 g; Protein: 6 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From food writer Jessie Sheehan.

Tested by Alexis Sargent; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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