Mandarin Chiffon Cake With Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting

This Mandarin Chiffon Cake is light and fruity – perfect for Spring or Summer.

I had a big AHA while I was making this cake this time. I have made it before and found the crumb to be a bit heavier than I would have liked for something called ‘Chiffon’. Chiffon in baking means light and airy which is achieved by whipping egg whites and folding them in.

That part I have down pat but today as I was reviewing the inspiration recipe from Kasey Wilson’s Spirit and Style cookbook I finally noticed that it calls for 2 1/4 cups of sifted cake flour. So 2 things…

Can I Substitute All Purpose Flour for Cake Flour?

Cake flour is lower in protein and a finer ground than all purpose flour. It is also bleached through chlorination. That means that fat adheres to the flour better and air bubbles are more evenly distributed. Ultimately you get a finer, lighter crumb.

Also if you are weighing your flour, cake flour will weigh less than all purpose flour. It can be as much as a half ounce lighter per cup of flour. That adds up in a recipe.

If you don’t have Cake Flour you can substitute All Purpose Flour with this adjustment – for each cup of cake flour called for you can use 1 cup of all purpose flour BUT remove 2 Tablespoons of the flour per cup and replace it with 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch.

To Sift or Not to Sift?

The other thing I finally zeroed in on (Homer Simpson Doh! here)…. is it says ‘sifted’ flour. When I was a kid the flour canister always had a sifter sitting in it and you automatically scooped the flour with the sifter and sifted it in to your recipe. I am not sure when and why all that seems to have changed but I have not seen a real sifter for decades.

Note here that sifted flour and flour sifted are two very different things. Sifted flour means you sift the flour first and then measure it. Flour sifted means you measure the flour first and then sift it.

In this recipe I took 2 and 1/4 cups of flour the normal way (not sifted) and sifted it into a bowl. Then I took out 2 1/4 cups of sifted flour and guess what…. I had at least 1/2 cup of flour left over in the bowl. That is how much aeration and separation sifting made to the volume of flour.

No wonder this cake never came out as light as I wanted it before.

Mandarin Chiffon Layer cake with Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting and decorated with mandarin pieces

Yogurt Frosting – Really?

I had never heard of Yogurt Frosting until a German neighbour brought a cake to a BBQ party with the lightest most delightful yogurt frosting. So I started to research it.

There are lots of variations but most of the recipes either use a lot of sugar to stiffen it up. Otherwise it is a rather soft, goopy frosting prone to sliding off. There are ways to add in some gelatin to give it structure as well. Next time I will experiement with the gelatin approach.

I decided to use Icelandic Vanilla Yogurt, which is very thick, and combine it with cream cheese and flavourings. By replacing the whipped cream with yogurt I reduced the fat by about 45% over the whole cake (check…). I let the yogurt drain through a paper towel in a sieve for 2 hours and there was no liquid. So if you are using Icelandic you don’t need to drain it. If you use Greek yogurt and see any liquid then let it drain through a coffee filter or paper towel in a sieve over a bowl for a couple of hours.

Vanilla yogurt vs plain yogurt has more sugar in it. I didn’t add any sugar to the Filling or Frosting relying on the sugar in the vanilla yogurt and sweetness of the mandarin and Gran Marnier. Taste your mixture and add sugar to taste if necessary.

I also used Gran Marnier in the frosting but you can just use mandarin juice if you don’t want the alcohol.

Mandarin Chiffon Layer cake with Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting and decorated with mandarin pieces

Mandarin Chiffon Cake With Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting

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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 12 slices



  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour see notes above if substituting all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup mandarin juice (from two 10 oz cans mandarin slices)
  • 7 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar


  • 3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup mandarin pieces drained
  • 3/4 cup Vanilla Icelandic yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp Gran Marnier or mandarin syrup


  • 10 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups Icelandic Vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsps Gran Marnier
  • 1 Tbsp sugar or to taste Optional-taste your mixture and add sugar to tast if desired
  • mandarin pieces



  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 10" tube pan with cooking spray.
  • Sift flour and measure out 2 1/4 cups into a large bowl. Add the baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center.
  • Whisk the oil, egg yolks, mandarin juice in a measuring cup. Stir liquid into the well of the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until it forms stiff peaks but are not dry.
  • Add 1/3 of egg white mixture into the orange mixture and fold in gently. Add the second third of egg whites and fold in. Fold last of the egg whites in gently til evenly combined.
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes until until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Start checking for doneness after 55 minutes.
  • When cake is done invert the cake pan over a small jar or long necked bottle to cool. When cool run a knife along the inner and outer edges of the tube pan as well as under the bottom rim of the pan.
  • Place a cake plate on top of tube pan, invert and gently remove the tube pan. Split the cake in half and gently tranfer the top portion to a side plate. Use an offset spatula to help support the top layer so it doesn't crack.


  • Beat all filling ingredients in a small bowl until evenly mixed and smooth.


  • Beat all Frosting ingredients in a separate bowl until well mixed and smooth.


  • Spread filling over bottom half of the cake. Gently position the top layer on the filling.
  • Gently spread the Frosting over the top layer and the sides of the cake. Decorate with mandarin pieces.
  • Refrigerate cake for 4 hours to allow frosting to set. Remove from fridge about 20 minutes before serving.



Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 28g
Mandarin Chiffon Cake With Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting

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