Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting

Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

There’s something about the word “chiffon” that simply makes me happy. And hungry. Pair it with the word cake, and you know I’m going to be intrigued. I’ve been wanting to share a chiffon cake with you for some time now, but truly, there are so many flavour variations out there that I felt it would be best to wait until I made one that really excited me and that I found unique and nothing short of delightful.  What makes a chiffon cake a chiffon cake? Well, it’s a light and springy cake that gets its height from a generous number of egg whites that are beaten separately from the egg yolks into a stiff peak meringue and folded into the blended batter base, which typically includes oil (never butter), flour, baking powder, and sugar. It bakes up lofty and full, and the high oil and egg content yields a really moist cake that seems to stay that way for days. With the absence of butter, therefore less saturated fat, you could almost say that it’s a healthier cake option, and, this is what I uttered to myself repeatedly while I ate 2, or was it 3, slices today. And, wait, I also used sunflower oil, so I almost can’t afford to not eat it, it’s that healthy.

Dark Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

According to What’s Cooking America, the first chiffon cake was introduced in 1927, by its inventor, Harry Baker, a Los Angeles insurance agent who kept his recipe guarded for two decades, baking and selling it to Hollywood stars exclusively. It is explained that Mr. Baker eventually (1947) sold his recipe to General Mills, who stated that he sold his recipe” so Betty Crocker could give the secret to the women of the America.” This cake was said to be a huge hit after being printed in Better Homes and Gardens in 1948, and by the 1950s chiffon cakes were all the rage. So now that I’ve inflicted my love for cake history upon you, let’s talk about this particularly delicious chiffon cake!

Dark Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

I’ve been wanting to incorporate rosewater (or rose water) into a recipe (or a few) lately, and although it’s known to work well with such flavours as vanilla, white chocolate, raspberry, and many others, I was so excited to pair it with chocolate. I suspected it would taste great, since lavender does and my instincts told me it would, but I was particularly pleased to discover this officially, since all I can think about these days is chocolate. And cake. And pink frosting. I went with a dark chocolate chiffon cake because I love the contrast of the delicate, pink, fluffy rose water frosting against the deep, dark chocolate cake–both in taste and aesthetic. In this case, though, since the cake only appears to be heavy and dark, it’s actually super light in texture (in true chiffon style), which makes the overall experience even more pleasing and suited for spring indulgences and summer days to come.

For this frosting, I added a small amount of rosewater to one of my favourite sugary-type frosting recipes, as an accent, resulting in a sweet, rich-but-light buttercream with just a hint of rose ringing through. With a certain magical tea party on my mind (you can learn more about that wonderfully curious event below), I’ve been recently dreaming of this type of sweet and fragrant confection, and this one hit the spot. If you’re not familiar with rosewater, it is literally just that: a steam distillate made from rose petals. Although there are many wonderful uses for rosewater (I use it in toner form on my face each day), as an ingredient it’s most often found in Middle Eastern, Greek, and Indian cuisine. I find it adds a really delicate and unique touch to the frosting in this case.

I opted to add it into more of a confectioners’ frosting, over my beloved meringue buttercream, or the like, because I felt, after experimenting a bit, that for my personal taste it paired best with the sweetness of the sugary frosting. A rosewater glaze was also an option, and I imagine that would have also been incredible. I was envisioning swirls of fluffy rosewater frosting though on a bundt shape cake this time, so maybe next time, when I try it ungreased in a chiffon (or angel food cake) pan, I’ll try the glaze.

Dark Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

One of the notable differences between making a bundt cake and a chiffon cake, aside from bundt cakes including butter, is that chiffon cakes typically require an ungreased cake pan. From what I’ve read, this is so the light cake can cling to the edges of the pan, allowing it to rise to, and stay, a lovely and lofty height. The recipe I used for this cake, from contributing pastry chef Mary Bergin from the fabulous book Baking With Julia, did instruct greasing and flouring the pan, so I did. Her incredible recipe from the book is a decadent creme brulee with Chambord filled and glazed version using the bundt shape as an important part of the dessert’s structure and appeal, so I imagine that is why she greased the pan; in my experience, if you don’t butter and flour a bundt pan properly, you’ll likely never get the baked cake out in one piece.

So . . . creme brulee and raspberry liquer inside the cavity and drizzled all over a chocolate bundt cake, you ask? Oh yes, and I cannot wait to make that entire recipe someday soon, when I’m armed with a flurry of friends who will help me devour it. The source is linked below, if you can’t wait another day to make that version, and if you do, please come back and tell me how it was! As for this version, I love its sweet simplicity and unique flavour combination. Next time, I will definitely give it a try that way in an ungreased chiffon cake pan with removable bottom, just to get a better idea of the difference in height.

Dark Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

If you make it, don’t be afraid to really slather on that frosting; it was a highlight (although, I recommend not going overboard with the rosewater; it can overtake the flavour if you’re not careful)! I loved the combination of flavours, and I really enjoyed the springy texture and deep “chocolate-ness” of the cake.

Just a note that if you’d rather make an actual bundt cake with this frosting, which would also be a great combination, you can bake my Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake and top it with the Fluffy Rosewater Frosting.

Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting

Yield: 1 standard Bundt cake

Deep, dark, moist chocolate chiffon cake topped with fluffy and sweet frosting with a hint of Rose.


    For the Cake:
  • 1-1/2 cups (300g) sugar
  • 1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (90g) dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5g) salt
  • 4 eggs, separated, and room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil (I used Sunflower oil)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water, warm
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)(114g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (250 g) icing sugar (powdered, confectioners'), sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) whipping cream (heavy cream, 35% fat)
  • 1/8 teaspoon rosewater, or more to taste (but use sparingly)
  • pinch of salt
  • Few drops pink food gel colour (optional)


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour (I use a mix of flour & cocoa powder for this process when baking chocolate cake) the entire inside surface of a 10-12 cup Bundt pan. You can also use an angel food pan. (Typically, you wouldn't grease the pan for a chiffon cake, but this recipe comes from the book Baking with Julia, and greasing the pan is directed.)
  2. Sift 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, oil, water, and vanilla until blended. Gradually whisk in all of the dry ingredients until combined and smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and a mixer bowl wiped clean with lemon juice, whip the 6 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup (100 g) of the sugar to the foamy egg whites, and continue to whip on medium speed until the meringue reaches stiff peaks, and is glossy and thick.
  5. Gently fold in 1/3 of the meringue into the chocolate mixture with a silicone spatula, then gently fold in the remaining meringue until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until top bounces back when gently touched, about 35 minutes, and cake begins to shrink from sides of pan, and skewer comes clean when inserted. Be sure to not over-bake.
  6. Let cake cool in pan on cooling rack for 25 minutes before gently inverting onto wire rack.
  7. For the Buttercream:
  8. In mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine icing sugar and butter on low, for about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix on low speed for about 2 minutes.
  9. Add whipping cream and salt, and mix on medium-high for 2 minutes. Add rosewater and pink gel colour, and whip until blended.
  10. Assembly of the Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting
  11. Gently place the cooled chiffon cake on a pedestal or plate.
  12. Smother the top of the cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting using a small offset palette knife.
  13. Store in a cake-keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days.


*Rosewater is very fragrant, and very intense in flavour, so you will want to use sparingly, to taste.

**The chiffon cake can be baked in advance, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature.


*Cake recipe adapted from Mary Bergin’s recipe in the book Baking With Julia, by Dorie Greenspan. I found the online recipe here.

Now, onto this glorious Mad Tea Party! I have a special friend, who you may already be familiar with, artist Vanessa Valencia; she’s the magical, quirky, and infinite talent behind A Fanciful Twist art, blog, and so much more. Okay, so I don’t use that adjective very often, “magical,” but to describe Vanessa, well, there’s  no other way to say it, and once you step into her world, you’ll likely agree. It’s not just Vanessa who is magical, but everything she touches, including her living and work spaces (she was recently featured in the Summer 2011 issue of Where Women Create; you can take a peek here).You may remember my chatting about her in my previous post, Artist Palette & Paintbrush Cookies (with a special “Twist”), well, she’s the special twist. Can you tell I adore her madly?

This year she’s hosting her annual virtual Mad Tea Party, and oh me, oh my, I’m the honorary guest! On Saturday, June 25th, 2011 I’ll be sharing my Mad Tea Party post here on my blog, filled with curious tea party confections, recipes, and more. If that’s not fun enough, there will be oodles of other virtual attendees sharing their mad blog posts, all linked and hosted through her blog on A Fanciful Twist blog. To read more, sign up for the fun, or escape into Vanessa’s magical existence, click the invite below:

I’ll meet you here (and there) for this fanciful mad tea party on June 25th, and I’ll see you back here even sooner to share another recipe.

Good luck & enjoy! I’ll see you soon with my 50th blog post!


Share the Sweetness!


  1. says

    Ok, wow that looks so fancy and beautiful. The cake looks lovely and you make me want to devour a tub of that frosting (and I don’t even like frosting).

  2. says

    I read on Four Pounds Flour that rosewater was once the prevalent flavoring in America, over vanilla. It’s strange, considering that, to think that it’s usually only associated with Indian cooking nowadays. This looks super tasty great divine delicious!

  3. Claire Marie says

    I’ve given up baking and cooking for sport (temporarily), but my birthday is in August and I think I could (should!) make this as a present to myself. It looks and probably tastes absolutely lovely! I’ll have to fight with the meringue, again, I’m sure, but I’ll take the fight as I’m positive this cake would be worth it. Can’t wait!

    (P.S. as an FYI, the Baking with Julie link appears broken?)

  4. says

    I love chiffon cake! I remember having it served just like this for afternoon tea with my grandmother. Another delightful and nostalgic creation from your kitchen.

  5. says

    I love chiffon cakes! I made a vanilla version filled with strawberries and cream 4 times a few weeks ago! Everyone loves a light cake in the summer.

  6. says

    Yummy, this cakes looks so pretty I don’t know if I could eat it haha. I wonder…can I die the icing blue and use Father’s Day as an excuse to make it? :)

  7. says


    I want to bake this chocolate chiffon cake. Would you please add to step 8 the approximate time to bake before using bounce back technique to see if the cake is ready?

    8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until top bounces back when gently touched, cake begins to shrink from sides of pan, and skewer comes clean when inserted. Be sure to not over-bake.


  8. says

    What a beautiful looking cake! I love chocolate and rosewater but I’ve never tried them together. Will definitely try this out :)

  9. Sonja von Franck says

    Beautiful! Artfully done and inspiring. Like the commenter above, I really like how you just iced the top. Thanks for sharing!

  10. says


    I ♥ U.

    Honored and tickled pink frosting, that you are our honorary guest.

    You are “Her Majesty of all things beautiful, baked, and frosted!” plus more ;)

    Love, V

  11. Karen Lawson says

    Oh Goodness, delicious gracious! The top photo reminds me of the most dreamy giant chocolate donut. The frosting is something to be lost in, only to bob up occasionally and happily. The last photo of this beautiful piece of cake reminds me of a tiny, deep chocolate miniature cottage with pink snow on top. Oh Golly I’m jumping up and down now; maybe one day you could make this with frosting piped down the bottom, middle, where each slice become a miniature house with a pink door. Forgive me for imposing any suggestions,( I’ll pipe it now!) its just that your cakes inspire a fairytale in my mind. Also, Love the needlepoint hankie, cute as can be.

  12. says

    this cake looks fabulous. I was wondering if it can be made into cupcakes. I also wanted to know where you buy your cake flour, do you buy it on the internet wholesale or in a store? Thanks

  13. says

    Rosie, I have been following you for a little while, and have had grand dreams to try many of your recipes but up until now have not yet gotten there. However, this one was far too delicious looking so I gave it a go last night, and I must say it’s delicious! I used a silicone bundt pan because that’s the only one I had, but it meant I didn’t have to grease it. This was my first attempt at a chiffon cake, and I’m quite pleased with the results – thank you!

  14. Heather says

    I made this for a friend’s birthday this weekend and it tasted delish! However, after I baked the cake I took it from the oven to cool and came back to find that it had sunken in. I feel like I followed the directions correctly and when I removed it from the oven it had risen beautifully. Where did I go wrong? Did I not cook it long enough or not have the egg whites stiff enough? I’d appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

    • Ling says

      I think it’s because you didn’t bake the cake long enough. I made cupcakes from this recipe and my first batch sank a little in the centre so I decided to bake my second batch a little longer (3-5 mins) and they turned out fine. Hope this helps!

      • says

        I made this cake tonight to only be disappointed in it sinking. I was all prepared to make my trusted chocolate cake recipe that never fails but thought I’d try something different. I cooked mine until the skewer was clear and the cake still sunk in. It’s really brown on the outside too which I would have thought meant I had over cooked it. Did everything exactly to the recipe too.

        • yesenia says

          i think what happened was when it came time to combining the meringue with the flour you guys may have over mixed so you lose air.

        • Rebecca C says

          I learned that if I beat the eggwhites too stiffly, it was too hard to incorporate and it caused the batter to lose the air. The second time I beat to a medium stiffness (no longer runny, when you dip in a spoon and pull it out you will have a peak that curls over like a wave, don’t try to beat as hard as the merengue for a pie or something). Then I was able to incorporate them into the batter easily. also i inverted the pan over a rack immediately after removing from oven which caused it to stretch down instead of cave in.

  15. says

    I have to type this with one hand because the other one is holding a delicious slice of this cake that I baked last night. I may be tempted to reveal that this is actually my second slice (shh! don’t tell the kids, because I baked it for them….)

    The cake is fluffy beyond belief. The frosting I changed a little because I had cream cheese in the fridge but no cream, although the tang of the cream cheese works brilliantly with the rosewater.

    So yet again another of your recipes is going into my dog-eared recipe collection! They are GOOD!

    oh – and i buttered and floured the tin like you said – which I have never done before – and it came out beautifully.

  16. Amelia says

    Hi Rosie. I just made this beautiful chiffon cake and it is perfect. I also made your gorgeous meringue cake, also divine! I absolutely LOVE your blog. Many thanks.

  17. says

    Such a beautiful cake, and I have fallen in love with your website as well. Glad to have another charming and gorgeous blog to follow, and keep my sweet tooth satisfied (at least pictorally).

  18. Pilar says

    I have just found your site and it’s amazing. I think I’m going to stay for a while and definitely this cake is a must in any celebration. Congratulations.

  19. says

    Looks lovely! I use rosewater in my frostings a lot, I use more rosewater and no vanilla as compared to your recipe in most of mine, but do add a couple of drops of fresh lemon juice. It really lifts it. Also try adding a little rosewater when you make a pastry for apple pie- divine!

  20. says

    Im SOOOOOOOO courious about the rosewater! I’d love to have teah with you1

    LOL, bundt cakes always make me think of My Big FAt Greek Wedding…this cake has a hole in it, LOL =)

  21. Mary says

    I have enjoyed this blog so much.The cakes are beautiful-recipes and pictures remind me of the wonderful cakes my mother made -this gives me hope to bake again with the lost recipes of my childhood.Love your pictures esp. of your beautiful daughters in the “pink” kitchen.I have two daughters-both grown now -enjoy each day and keep making those special memories with them, as time really does pass too quickly. P.S. Love Canada and the people-my father took us there every summer for vacation.

  22. Ling says

    This is a great recipe! I reduced the amount of sugar for mixing into the flour to 3/4 cup and made cupcakes from the batter. It turned out gorgeous. This recipe probably yields 28-30 cupcakes. I frosted it with my usual chocolate ganache (4 oz chocolate + 1/4 cup cream) and it was perfect. Will probably decorate it with a raspberry next time. Thanks again for the recipe! I’m officially a fan of you now.

  23. Rebecca says

    I just made this cake and checked it when the timer went off, and the cake overflowed the pan! I guess that means it’s super fluffy, but what did I do wrong? I used a standard size bundt pan, is yours bigger than that?

  24. says

    hi there. thanks for a wonderful recipe! the first time i made it i used half a portion of everything and frosted with chocolate ganache. we both swooned at how lovely it tasted. but the second time, i bake 2 cakes using your measurement. however, both cakes overflowed at the top and got a burnt base. bummer. i think i’ll make half a portion for the next time. maybe my oven is too hot for a large cake. whatever it is, thanks for this recipe. my current favourite!

  25. Julia says

    Rosie, this is wonderful. I made the cake just as written and it came out wonderfully moist and light. I’ve had problems with other chocolate cake recipes falling apart, both in cake and cupcake form. The only issue I had was that one small piece stuck to the pan, but next time I’ll just be more careful to really butter and flour all over. I paired this with an almond Swiss meringue buttercream that I modified slightly (it ended up being a sort of hybrid between traditional buttercream and Swiss meringue) and my friends loved it. I’m eager to use this recipe for cupcakes. I’m thinking one batch will make between 18-24 cupcakes…do you agree?

  26. shivani says

    each cake is so good – perfect
    I wanted to ask if I can use chocolate slab in place of cocoa and what quantity?

  27. Alissa P says

    I love the recipe and my cake turned out amazing! I would like to try the frosting with lavender though and don’t know how to approach it… thoughts or other suggestions for a rosewater substitute?

    • rebecca c says

      to make the lavender frosting, i would try infusing the lavender in the cream. warm the cream slightly. add the lavender. a teaspoon maybe? depends on how fresh or old your lavender is. let is soak. then squish it through a sieve. then you should have some lavender flavored and lavender colored cream. then just use it to make the frosting, omitting the rose water. that’s what i would do anyway. did that once when making truffles, it works well. garnish the whole thing with a few lavender flowers too. now I want to try it both ways!

  28. says

    I just made this for mother’s day! It was amazing, and everyone loved it! Just posted about it! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  29. says

    The cake looks great and I have to do it. Love you put the cake recipe in gr and ml, really apreciate it. I am going to participate in a olive oil contest. At the bootom i will make your cake, but instead of sun flower oil i will try a spice mixture i made and light cream on top and melon jelly. Hope it will be nice. Thanks for sharing!!

  30. Jackie says

    I made this beautiful cake today and it was ah-mazing!! A truly delicous cake thank you so much for sharing this recipe :)

  31. ashley says

    this is such a good cake- so moist! we have made it a couple time and love it each time- we do always end up adding closer to 1-2tsp of rosewater to the frosting. we just can’t taste the rosewater at all without upping the amount.

    • Rebecca C says

      I could taste the rosewater in the frosting alone, but once paired with the cake, it is hard to detect. I would probably add more next time too.

  32. annie says

    Your ingredients list says 2 egg whites, whereas the instructions say 6 egg whites. Also, how do you wipe clean the whisk attachment and a mixer bowl with lemon juice?

    • Rebecca C says

      Just pour a little lemon juice into the clean mixing bowl and wipe it all around with a paper towel until it is dry. You need six egg whites total, and four egg yolks. The other two egg yolks you can use for something else.

  33. Rebecca C says

    I decided to make this for my husband’s birthday because it looked good and I had a bottle of rosewater I wanted to open and use. I felt like I followed the instructions exactly, but when I baked the cake, it collapsed all the way in before it came out of the oven. It was disappointing. I decided to try again and I found a tutorial on chiffon cakes on another site. I incorporated a few tweaks and the second time it worked. The main thing was not to whip the egg whites until they were so stiff. When I did that the first time, I actually couldn’t fully incorporate the egg whites into the batter and trying so hard to do it caused overfolding. The second time I beat them to a medium stiffness. It worked perfectly, I was able to fold them into the batter without overfolding and deflating the cake. Also, I didn’t grease the pan the second time and it worked better. Also baked at 325 degrees instead, for about 41 minutes. When it came out of the oven I immediately inverted the pan over a rack to cool so it would stretch down as it cools. If I make it a third time, I would probably grease the pan a little bit in the bottom and very lightly. I was able to get my cake out but it didn’t have that perfect definition of the bundt pan shape. The frosting was excellent! A really light and fluffy butter cream, not as sweet or heavy as butter cream typically is which was great. I am going to keep that recipe for future use on lots of things. I tinted it a mint green instead of pink since it was for my husbands birthday. The cake portion was also delicious and light and fluffy. I will probably make this again some time.

  34. Stephanie says

    Ingredient list says dark cocoa powder. Since it also calls for both baking powder and baking soda, can I use dutch processed cocoa? Or should I be using natural cocoa powder instead?

  35. Emily says

    Such a great and easy cake! I substituted the rose water with raspberry extract and then topped with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar. Delish!


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