John Whaite's Chocolate chiffon cake with salted caramel butter cream

John Whaite's Chocolate chiffon cake with salted caramel butter cream

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(22 ratings)

Prep: 45 mins Cook: 1 hr, 15 mins

More effort

Cuts into 12 slices

Give this celebration sponge a showstopping finish by piping spikes of ganache on top and filling with salted caramel butter icing

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per slice

  • kcal795
  • fat48g
  • saturates24g
  • carbs82g
  • sugars65g
  • fibre2g
  • protein8g
  • salt0.8g
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  • 125ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
    Sunflower oil

    Sunflower oil

    Sunflower oil is made from pressing sunflower seeds and extracting the oil. It's usually…

  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste



    The sun-dried seed pod of a type of climbing orchid, vanilla has an inimitable soft, sweet…

  • 375g golden caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

For the salted caramel icing

  • 250g light soft brown sugar
  • 150ml double cream
  • 140g butter, softened



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • ½ tsp salt

For the ganache

  • 250ml double cream
  • 250g dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated
    Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons

    Dark chocolate

    dahk chok-o-let

    Dark chocolate means the shiny, dark-reddish brown treat produced from the cacao bean, theobroma…

  • sea salt crystals, to decorate


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line a 25cm round deep cake tin with baking parchment. In a large bowl, mix the oil, egg yolks, vanilla paste, caster sugar and 200ml water until well combined. Sift in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.

  2. Sift in the flour, bicarb and 1 tsp salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into the batter with a large metal spoon and mix until everything is well combined.

  3. Gently pour the mixture into your cake tin, then bang it on the work surface twice to expel any large air pockets. Bake for 1 hr 10 mins or until the cake springs back when gently prodded and an inserted skewer comes out clean. (Cover with foil after 1 hr if the cake starts to get too dark.) Remove from the oven, cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a large wire rack and peel off the parchment. Leave until the cake is completely cool.

  4. Make the salted caramel icing while the cake bakes. Heat the brown sugar, ½ tsp salt and cream in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Bubble for a few mins, then leave to cool completely. Beat the butter until smooth, pour in the cooled cream mixture and continue mixing until softly whipped. Chill until needed.

  5. To make the ganache, heat the cream until just boiling. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for a few mins until the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth sauce consistency. Leave to cool at room temperature until the ganache is a pipeable thickness, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. To finish the cake, slice in half and fill with the salted caramel buttercream. Pipe tall spikes of chocolate ganache on top and decorate with the sea salt crystals. Will keep for up to 2 days in a cool place.

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Comments, questions and tips

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30th Jan, 2017
1. What happened to the egg yolks in this recipe? 2. WHen you say mix the "batter" with the stiff eggwhites, did you mean the sifted flour, bicarb and salt? (which is not a batter)
4th Sep, 2016
Made this cake this afternoon. Our oven isn't particularly good, being 2nd hand and many years old so was dubious putting it in. With so much batter I cooked it in two separate cake dishes and it took only 45 minutes and was moist right to outside. This cake is so soft but held together well when i turned it out. As my family isn't keen on salted caramel I left out the salt when making the caramel, it was a great consistency, not too thick but didn't drip down the sides when I placed it in the middle and placed the other cake on top. I made slightly less ganache as silly me didn't pick up enough chocolate (I used Cadbury's Bournville 180g) but I just adjusted the amount of cream and it worked perfectly. Because my pipping skills aren't all that I spread it over the top and thought this amount was perfect. This cake is amazing but very rich, cut a slightly smaller size than you think you can eat! A crowd favourite!
3rd Apr, 2016
I created an account just so I could comment on this recipe. Made this today, I halved the recipe, after reading other comments about the size of the cake made by the listed ingredient amounts - and WOW. What a lovely cake!! I had some slight issues with the ganache, I wound up having to fridge the ganache for nearly an hour to get it thick enough and at the end of it, I wound up spreading over the sides and top instead of piping, but I had to guestimate on my measurements as my digital scales died at that point - so I have no doubt it was my fault rather than the recipe itself. Fantastic and beautiful! - The caramel filling turned out very firm, the trick with that, is to boil the sugar/cream/salt combo for several minutes. You're basically trying to get it to a nearly soft-ball stage as if you were making hard caramels or fudge. Once it cools down fully, it will harden into a quite firm substance, once whipping the butter, then whipping the butter into the mix, fridge for 10-15 mins and you get a a substance that is much like room temperature butter. That way, it can be piped or spread onto the cake halves and won't get pushed out the sides or be too runny etc. Lovely recipe, I will absolutely use this one again. If you have problems with the cake taking too long to bake - you probably have a slower oven than the one used for testing this recipe, increase the temp by 10deg C and keep an eye on it.
26th Mar, 2016
Absolute waste of time of a recipe. Takes nearly two hours to bake, filling is pushed out of the cake due to the weight and the gnash ends up too hard due to waiting for the cake to bake. Looks an absolute mess. I question whether Good Food test their recipes.
12th Jul, 2015
This is a fantastic recipe! So thrilled with the result. I split the batter between two 10" tins and baked them for around 35 to 40 mins. I baked another two and made a huge layered birthday cake. I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate for the ganache and piled fresh summer berries on top. I didn't make the salted caramel filling but I simply sandwiched the sponges with vanilla cream and fresh summer fruits - it was so good! The fine texture of the cake is gorgeously spongy and light and yet moist - more substantial than a whisked sponge. I think this will be my go-to celebration cake recipe from now on! Thank you Good Food Magazine!!
aromaticum's picture
26th Apr, 2015
This was really good, but sooo heavy. One piece is enough, otherwise you have to buy new jeans haha.. But our hole family loved this cake, made it on easter.
3rd Apr, 2015
This cake is lovely but I did two cakes instead of one to make sure it baked properly. One cake took 50 mins and the other slightly longer. The buttercream wasn't right....grainy which must be that I've not dissolved it properly. It was also too runny so next time I'll do half the sugar and cream. Thanks for a lovely recipe.
29th Oct, 2014
Much easier than I expected. It took longer to cook, as many said below. The cake ended up being HUGE, very very tall. I cut it in halves, but it could have been cut in thirds as there was so much caramel icing. If like me you keep your cakes in the fridge (it took us a week to finish it), I would suggest spreading the ganache evenly on top; I piped mine, and after an hour in the fridge it was rock hard and very hard to cut through.
mother_ship's picture
28th Jun, 2014
Made this in 3 x 23cm tins and it came out brilliantly and resulted in an impressive tall cake. I was a bit over cautious with the salt, I sprinkled on flakes rather than mixing it into the caramel.
18th Apr, 2014
Lovely light cake, cooked it for 90 mins as recommended by other posts. One thing though, do NOT put the buttercream in the fridge while you wait for the cake to cool (as I did) as it sets rock hard and cannot be spread! Otherwise turned out perfectly and tasted wonderful.


3rd Oct, 2018
Can you amend this cake recipe to cupcakes? If so, how long would cooking time be?
goodfoodteam's picture
12th Oct, 2018
Thanks for your question. You can make this into cupcakes if you like but as we haven't tested it we can't give exact timings. Cupcakes usually take around 15 - 20 mins as a guideline.
5th May, 2015
Hi there, I have been looking at chiffon cake recipes and saw this one which really appeals to me. My question is about the height of this cake. Chiffon cakes should be really tall, way taller than this looks in the photo. My friend made a chiffon cake that was 5-6 inches tall - the one in the photo here looks like it struggles to make 2 inches! Also in the comments, someone said it dipped in the middle, but don't chiffon cake pans have a hole in the centre? Basically my question is: is this really an authentic chiffon cake or just an ordinary chocolate cake? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
24th Jun, 2015
Hi, thanks for getting in touch. A chiffon cake is one which is made with oil instead of butter and a higher proportion of eggs than a standard sponge cake. This makes the cake lighter and less likely to dry out. Some chiffon cakes are made in a round cake tin, some in a bundt tin, depends on the recipe. If the cake dips this could be because the oven door was opened before the cake had finised cooking completly.
9th Dec, 2013
Where I live double cream is not available. What substitute can I use? Any information provided would be much appreciated! Thanks!
goodfoodteam's picture
18th Dec, 2013
Hi there, You can use crème fraîche as a substitute to double cream. Best wishes. 
1st Oct, 2013
I made this cake. When i made salted caramel icing it tasted delicious however when it cooled you can taste like kind of sugar didn't dissolve. I find that strange as when it was warm i didn't feel sugar at all. Please let me know why??Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
18th Dec, 2013
Hi Melissa, You may have not fully dissolved the sugar, you need to bubble until all of it has been dissolved and no crystals remain. We hope it works better next time. 
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