Chiffon Sponge Cake

You’ve never had a cake so light, and yet so moist. It’s gluten-free and dairy-free, and low in sugar. For a chocolate version, see my Chocolate Chiffon Sponge Cake.

This basic recipe can be jazzed up in a number of ways – see the footnotes for ideas. It’s based on the fabulously-named Persian Love Cake.

Makes: 24 small traybake portions, or 12 large wedge portions (depending on tin)


  • 285g gluten-free flour
  • 120g caster sugar (white or golden)
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (only required if your GF flour is plain, not self-raising)
  • 1/2 tsp each of two ground spices (cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc) – optional
  • 1 orange, or 2 unwaxed lemons, finely grated zest (for cake) and juice (for topping)
  • 6 large eggs, separated (they should total 360g-380g when weighed in their shells)
  • 125ml (120g if weighing) vegetable oil
  • 160ml / 160g water
  • Butter, to grease tin (or margarine / veg oil, to keep it dairy-free)


  • A standard traybake pan 9x12″ / 23x30cm (24 portions)
    or, a round cake tin 9-10″ / 24-26cm diameter (12 larger portions)
  • Baking/parchment paper to line tin
  • 3 large mixing bowls
  • Fine citrus grater
  • Citrus juicer
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • Spatula or large metal spoon, for folding


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Grease your tin and line the bottom and sides with baking paper. Get 3 mixing bowls ready.
  2. In the first bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder (if using), spices (if using), and citrus zest together with a fork.
  3. In the second bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed as the colour and texture change.
  4. In the third bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the oil and water until doubled in volume and fluffy; again, start at low speed and gradually increase to high speed (no need to clean the beaters from the whites).
  5. Add the yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together until fully combined and smooth.
  6. Add one-third of the egg whites, folding briskly, to loosen the mixture. Then add the rest of the whites and fold carefully until no white lumps or streaks remain.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning tin halfway through for even baking, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin (GF cakes can be too delicate to turn out of the tin while still hot).

Topping Suggestions
The cake batter is low in sugar, so a sweet topping is a good idea.

A) While the cake is baking, heat the orange or lemon juice on the hob with 70g caster sugar, until reduced to a syrup. Poke the cake deeply all over with a skewer immediately when out of the oven, to ensure the syrup is absorbed all through the cake, then pour the syrup over the top.
B) Or, try 300ml double cream whipped to soft peaks with 50g icing sugar and the citrus juice, and spread on the cooled cake. Obviously, this isn’t the dairy-free option.
C) Alternatively, as shown in the recipe picture, spread the top of the cooled cake with orange curd or lemon curd, and crumble some meringue over. Due to the butter element of curds, this also isn’t dairy-free.

Base Layer
The dark bottom you can see in the recipe picture is some leftover pre-cooked chocolate choux pastry, which I mashed down in the traybake pan prior to pouring the sponge mixture in. I used orange zest instead of lemon that time, which went well with the hint of chocolate. Due to the choux pastry base layer, this version was also not dairy-free.


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