Marble Chiffon Cake

Egg whites are one of my favorite ingredients to bake with. It probably surpasses chocolate in some instances (!) Did you know that the volume of an egg white increases by 6-8 times when it is whipped? When I was a budding baker in middle and high school, my dad would support my efforts by buying Costco quantities of eggs, sugar, butter, and flour. My dad also always ate everything I made, regardless of how bad or good it turned out. 🙂

My mom didn’t use cookbooks much, so for my baking endeavors, I would have my mom’s big blue binder of miscellaneous recipes, Mrs. Field’s Cookie cookbook or a super ancient copy of Taste of Home baking cookbook (out of print, I’m sure) to browse through. I remember making all three egg-white-starring baked goods: chiffon, sponge, and angel food cake to test the limits of egg whites. I also was temporarily deluded into thinking that these cakes were healthier because they didn’t use as much oil, and most (or all) of the volume came from eggs (as opposed to butter) 😉

Anyway..this marble chiffon cake became a favorite. I used to make it with a cream cheese icing, but this time just made it on its own. If you want the icing, refer to the link, or concoct your own from a combination of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and milk.

Marble Chiffon Cake
Sorry I don’t have a side view picture of the whole cake! By the time I realized, too much of the cake was gone..

Marble Chiffon Cake

makes 1 10-inch tube cake
adapted from Taste of Home

*edited on 7/23/2014 to change where vanilla is added*
Ingredients and Equipment:
7 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup natural cocoa
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional but nice)
3 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 Tbsp plus 1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil, divided
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp grated orange peel (optional)
10 inch tube pan

0) Preheat oven to 350F.

1) Separate eggs into yolks and whites.

2) Mix together the espresso powder, cocoa, hot water, 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons oil until it is smooth.

3) Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining sugar in a separate bowl.

4) Whisk egg yolks, add 3/4 cup water, vanilla remaining oil, whisk again, then add the (dry) ingredients from step 3, and whisk until smooth.

5) Whisk egg whites, cream of tartar, and orange zest (optional) until the egg whites have stiff peaks.

6) Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk/flour mixture until the batter no longer has egg white streaks, and the egg whites are evenly mixed in. If your batter oozes out some large bubbles while you fold, you are on the right track 😉

7) Fold the ingredients from step 2 into 2 cups of the batter you just mixed together in step 6. Again, look for even chocolate color throughout.

8) Add the batter into the tube pan, alternating between the plain and chocolate batters. The more you alternate, the more marbled the cake. Use a knife to cut through the batter and swirl between the batters. Rap the tube pan on the counter several times to get large air bubbles out.

9) Bake at 350F for 70-75 minutes. If you have a temperamental oven like mine, it may only take 40-45 minutes! The cake is done when the cake springs back when lightly touched, when the surface of the cake is matter versus glossy, and when a cake tester comes out clean or with crumbs.

10) Cool by turning the tube pan upside down.

11) Use a knife to loosen the edges and the center of the tube pan before turning out to a plate.

-To get eggshell bits out of eggs, use another (clean) eggshell to help. Its jagged edges are much more effective at cutting through egg white than the edge of a spoon or fork.

-If you are worried about not separating the eggs 100% successfully, crack whites into a separate bowl before adding to the ‘main’ bowl. That way, if you mess up, you won’t contaminate the whole bowl.

-Egg whites will only properly whip up if the bowl is free of oil; oil from stray egg yolk particulates (which you can actually remove by using the eggshell as a tool). Start on low speed and gradually make your way up to high speeds, to make sure your air bubbles aren’t too big.

-Check your egg whites often as soon as the beater seems to make ‘imprints’ in the egg whites.

-If you are using a stand mixer for the egg whites, make sure to use a spatula to mix up the egg whites that might be trapped in the bottom of the bowl, at some point- like when the whites reach soft peaks.

-Soft peak egg whites will not hold their peaks when the whisk is lifted up and out of the bowl; rather, they will fall over on themselves. Stiff peaks will point straight up when the whisk is lifted up; you will also be able to hold the bowl upside down without anything falling out 😉


  1. Heidi

    Your chiffon cake looks yummy, Megan! One little grease insurance policy that you can take out is to wipe the inside of the mixing bowl out with a paper towel moistened with vinegar before you start. And for the egg-white-uninitiated, eggs separate best when cold, but achieve maximum whipping volume when room temperature or slightly warm. 🙂

    • meggers616

      Thank you, Heidi! That vinegar idea is such a great tip! I'll have to try it next time. YES, I totally agree that eggs separate best when cold, but definitely whip up better warmer / at room temperature. Also, when they are warmer, I find that the shells tend to crumble/break into smaller pieces than when they are cold. Or, is that just me? 🙂

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