Serves a Crowd

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

November  7, 2014
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 10 to 12
Author Notes

Pumpkin normally appears in rich pies or hearty cakes. But here, with rice flour and a hint of spice, it produces a moist, fluffy cake with subtle flavors. I’ve tasted it with every imaginable topping from frosting to whipped cream and candied nuts, only to find that a sprinkling of spiced sugar is the best topping of all: Everything else overwhelms the delicate flavor of the cake.

This recipe was inspired by, but does not appear in, Flavor Flours (Artisan, 2014) by Alice Medrich. —Alice Medrich

What You'll Need
  • Ingredients
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil (such rice bran, corn, or safflower)
  • 1 1/4 cups (285 grams) pumpkin purée
  • 1 1/4 cups (200 grams) white rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Spiced sugar: 2 tablespoon sugar mixed with 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Equipment
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment
  • 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) tube pan, with removable bottom, ungreased
  1. Set aside 1/4 cup (50 grams) of the sugar for later (to stiffen the egg whites).
  2. Add the remaining sugar to a large mixing bowl with the egg yolks, oil, pumpkin, rice flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
  3. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325° F.
  4. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat with the whisk on medium-high speed until the mixture is creamy white and holds a soft shape. Slowly sprinkle in the reserved sugar, beating at high speed until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Scrape half of the egg whites onto the batter and fold until partially blended. Add the remaining egg whites and fold just until the batter looks blended. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it evenly.
  5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes dry, with only a few tiny crumbs clinging to it.
  6. Set the pan on a rack to cool.
  7. To unmold, slide a thin knife or skewer around the tube and the sides of the pan to detach them from the cake. Lift the tube and remove the cake from the pan. Slide a thin spatula under the cake all around, pressing against the bottom of the pan to avoid tearing the cake. Sprinkle the top and sides (tilting the cake) with the spicy sugar. Lift the cake off the bottom of the pan using two spatulas (one on either side of the tube) and transfer it to a serving platter. The cake keeps, wrapped airtight, at room temperature for at least 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months; bring to room temperature before serving.
  8. Slice with a serrated knife.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Margie Scott
    Margie Scott
  • Jennifer Teare
    Jennifer Teare
  • Jennie Lai
    Jennie Lai
  • Laurie
  • Zensister
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

17 Reviews

Avi October 11, 2019
This cake is fabulous. I used sweet potato puree instead of pumpkin and decreased the sugar slightly as sweet potato is sweeter. This keeps very well and I thought it was even better the second day. I used white rice flour as directed but I think cake flour probably could be substituted. I generally prefer gluten free chiffon cakes though as they seem to be more tender.
A L. October 12, 2016
Can you use regular flour? What does the rice flour add that reg flour does not?
Jodi M. October 5, 2016
Can you sub other squashes for pumpkin in this?
SNNYC March 25, 2015
And it's more egg whites than yolks because more egg whites produce a lighter, airier cake. No problem for me since I always have leftover egg whites in my fridge.
SNNYC March 25, 2015
This cake is SO GOOD! I actually used some sweet potato puree I had that contained some brown butter and maple syrup, so I reduced the sugar slightly. The cake was moist, light, and so flavorful. An instant favorite! When fall comes around I'll be making the pumpkin version!
Margie S. January 8, 2015
Question Usually egg yolks equal egg whites in recipes. Is 5 yolks and 8 whites correct?
Greenwitch March 16, 2015
I was going to ask the same question...
Bunnilein December 9, 2014
I meant to write this directly after Thanksgiving but was too busy eating the rest of this cake. It's terrific. As others have noted, it's not too sweet, easy to make, very moist and just gets better over the days following baking. I made it as directed by the recipe. I had a small slice for breakfast Friday morning and by Sunday we had given up all pretense that we were waiting for dessert time to enjoy. This is a keeper.
Jennifer T. November 28, 2014
I made this for thanksgiving. Its really good and i cant quit eating it!!!
adelebernard November 26, 2014
How much salt are we supposed to add?
judy January 9, 2015
1 tsp
Petals17x2 November 23, 2014
This is a great cake. I made this at a high altitude with no adjustments, came out perfect!
Jennie L. November 22, 2014
This turned out well. Light and moist with good pumpkin spice flavor.
Malymis November 20, 2014
Anyone tried this?
Laurie November 16, 2014
Question: Can this be successfully made with other flours? wheat? whole wheat pastry flour?
Melek M. November 23, 2014
I made it with all-purpose white flour, and it turned out great!
Zensister November 13, 2014
Thank you! I'd originally bypassed this assuming it was made with wheat flour. Now I'm excited to dig out my rice flour and try it!