For the batter:
5 egg yolks
40 g caster sugar
85 ml milk
3 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla essence
100 g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
For the meringue:
5 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
80 g caster sugar
Make the batter:
Preheat oven to 165°C (329°F). Position the oven rack on the lowest in the oven.
Have a 20-cm (8-inch) chiffon tube pan ready. DO NOT GREASE.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla extract or essence. Stir with a whisk until until well combined.
Add the sifted flour mixture in 2 additions. Stir with a whisk until all the flour is incorporated and no streaks of flour are visible. The mixture should be thick, smooth and free of lumps.
Make the meringue:
Fit an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. In a dry, grease-free mixer bowl, pour in egg whites and sprinkle cream of tartar over.
Whisk on medium speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid). When the egg whites become frothy, add sugar bit by bit in a steady stream. Whip until stiff peaks form. This may take 5 to 7 minutes, depending on your mixer and speed.
Fold the meringue into the batter:
Add ⅓ of meringue (whipped egg whites with sugar) to the batter. Fold in gently with a whisk until well incorporated.
Add another ⅓ of the meringue and again, fold in gently.
Add the remaining meringue and fold in gently. The final batter should feel light, and have no visible streaks of meringue.
Pour into the chiffon tube pan from one place, and let the batter spread to fill the pan.
Gently run a thin spatula in an ‘S’ motion throughout the batter to reduce large air pockets. Smooth and level the surface. Give the pan a few taps on the counter top to minimise air pockets.
Baking and cooling:
Bake on the lowest rack in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until done. DO NOT open the oven door. Only do so about 5 minutes before the end of baking, to test if done. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Note: A bit of cracking on the surface of the cake as it bakes is perfectly alright!
Immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Allow it to ‘hang’ until completely cooled.
To release the cake, run an offset spatula gently around the sides of the pan, pressing against the pan as much as possible.
Then invert the pan again so that the bottom is now facing up. Gently tap or push the pan’s base to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then run the spatula around the base to release the funnel.
Chiffon cake is served ‘upside-down’.