Adaptations of Western-style desserts, such as cream sponge cakes, are especially popular with the younger Japanese. While yuzu may be the citrus of choice in Japan, we have flavoured these cakes with lemons and have made them in the style of a light and fluffy American chiffon cake.






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  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 165 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 150 g (1 cup) plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 150 ml thickened cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • ½ tsp powdered gelatine


Glazed icing

  • 240 g (1½ cups) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice 
  • 10 g unsalted butter, softened

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time 15 minutes

Preheat oven to 160°C. Lightly grease a 12-hole ( cup-capacity) muffin pan.

Place oil, 110 g caster sugar, lemon zest and egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until combined. Transfer to a large bowl and sift in flour and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in lemon juice.

Place egg whites and tartar in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to soft peaks. Add remaining 55 g sugar and whisk until stiff and glossy. Working in 2 batches, fold into cake batter until well combined, then divide mixture among muffin holes. Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Cool cakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To make glazed icing, combine icing sugar, lemon juice, butter and 2 tsp cold water in a bowl until combined. Place wire rack with cakes over an oven tray. Drizzle glazed icing over cakes to coat, then leave for 15 minutes to set.

Whisk cream and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer to soft peaks. Dissolve gelatine in 2 tbsp warm water, then whisk into cream mixture until just combined. Cut cakes vertically a third of the way through and fill each with cream mixture. Serve.


Photography Derek Swalwell