New Recipe: The Lemon Chiffon Cake Recipe Was Known By One Man Until He Sold It To General MIlls – 20 Years Later


National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day on March 29th offers a bright and zesty celebration among the cake holidays.

  • The recipe for the chiffon cake was a closely guarded secret for years. In the 1920s, angel food cake was quite popular, but Henry Baker thought he could make a lighter, richer cake. The insurance salesman-turned-caterer tinkered with ingredients until in 1927 he came upon the perfect combination of ingredients and methods to produce the airy richness he was looking for.  
  • Keeping the recipe to himself, he offered his services to the Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles which catered to Hollywood’s elite.
  • Until 1947, Baker was the only person to bake chiffon cakes. Baker’s secret combination and methods relied on what bakers and chefs already knew about cakes and leavening. The lightness of angel food cakes relies on egg whites to create the loft and airiness. Traditional cakes used baking soda or powder for leavening. Baker combined both egg whites and baking powder to achieve a lightness like no other. And yet there was one other trick up Baker’s sleeve. Where angel food cake contained no butter, fat or shortening of any kind, Baker added vegetable oil.
  • Then, in 1947, Baker sold his recipe to General Mills for an undisclosed amount. The rest is baking history.
  • Many believe Chiffon cake is the ‘original’ wedding cake filling. A chiffon cake is a very light cake made with vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings.
  • The lack of butter means that chiffon cakes lack much of the rich flavor of butter cakes, and hence they are typically served accompanied with flavorful sauces or other accompaniments, such as chocolate or fruit fillings.
  • California and Arizona produce 95% of the entire U.S. lemon crop.
  • During the European Renaissance, fashionable ladies used lemon juice as a way to redden their lips.
  • Lemon trees bloom and produce fruit year-round. Each tree can produce between 500 and 600 pounds of lemons in a year.
  • According to General Mills, the chiffon cake, invented in 1927, was the first new cake to come along in 100 years.
  • In 1947, Baker sold the recipe to General Mills, and it created a sensation when it was published in the May, 1948 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Sources:

National Day Calendar

Foodimentary

Jamie Geller

The Nibble



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