Vanilla Chiffon Cake
6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1-1/2 cups sugar
2-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Fluffy White Frosting
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Sweetened or unsweetened coconut
Sugared flower petals, if desired * (see below)
1. Place oven rack in center of oven. Heat oven to 325 degrees (F). Whip egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly add 2/3 cup of the sugar. Beat until whites are satiny and form almost stiff peaks, about 10 minutes; set bowl aside.
2. Sift together flour, remaining sugar, baking powder and salt in another mixing bowl. Make a well in the center; add egg yolks, water, oil and vanilla. Beat until well blended and smooth. Fold egg whites into the egg-yolk batter in 6 or 7 additions.
3. Pour batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, lined on the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Bake until cake is golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 5 minutes. Invert cake pan onto the neck of a bottle. Cool thoroughly, 2 hours or overnight.
4. For the frosting: Place egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler or in a mixing bowl set over simmering water in a saucepan. Beat with hand mixer at high speed about 7 minutes. Remove double-boiler top or mixing bowl from heat; beat until mixture forms stiff peaks, 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Frost the cooled cake with the frosting; sprinkle and pat shredded coconut over the frosting. (The coconut may be sweetened or unsweetened, and may be toasted, if desired.) Decorate cake with sugared flower petals, if desired.
* To make sugared flower petals: Use bright petals of nasturtiums, marigolds and pansies. (Edible flowers are available from specialty food stores, in the produce section. These flowers have not been sprayed with chemicals. Do not use flowers sold in flats at nurseries or in the floral section of supermarkets; they may not be safe for consumption.)
Dissolve 5 tablespoons of sugar in 1 tablespoon of hot water and use this solution to lightly brush on the petals. Sprinkle with sugar. (Do not use too much liquid on the flowers or they will wilt.)
Adapted from a recipe in The Perfect Cake