Low Carb Melt-In-Your-Mouth Lemon ‘Chiffon’ Poppy Seed Cake

"picture of baked muffin and slice of cake on white plate...with slices of lemon"
This cake literally melts in your mouth!

HI Your Fit Day Friends,

Are you ready to got to low-carb heaven? Wait until you try my Low Carb Melt-In-Your-Mouth Lemon ‘Chiffon’ Poppy Seed Cake. This was really just an experiment and it was the first try. I wasn’t even sure it would come out OK.

When I tasted it… I almost died. But I didn’t, thank god. Instead, I ate the whole cake. I couldn’t help it. It literally melted in my mouth.

So here’s how I came up with this delectable lemony lusciousness.  I thought I’d try to make an angel food cake using coconut flour. I was hungry, wanted something sweet, it was a low carb day, and I still had macros left to consume for the day.

And when I’m in the mood for baking I love to experiment and come up with goodies that I can make into a complete meal…and gobble them right up after I make them!!

So I got to baking and this is what I ended up with.

Low Carb Lemon Poppy Seed Chiffon Cake
You don’t have to eat just one slice… This is a complete meal!

It’s actually not a classic chiffon cake, since there is no oil in the batter. And it’s not a classic angel food cake because there are yummy yolks involved. But it has that spongy, light texture, it melts in your mouth, and is just as yummy as both of those cakes. As it turns out, it’s really what I was going for using the coconut flour!

So, with any angel food cake it requires that the dry ingredients be folded into the egg whites in  four equal parts. I’m not sure why, but that’s what I’ve read on many food blogs, and also what my mother taught me. You can’t always trust a blog, but who’s to argue with your mother!

But folding coconut flour into egg whites is not that easy, and takes some patience folding it four times. Because it’s really boring you need to do it slowly and gently. It actually puts me into a Zen state. In fact, I’m sure making this cake lowers my cortisol with all the folding! Just another excuse for everyone to make this cake! Not to lower my cortisol, but to lower yours!

Now… Back to my making and baking…

Low Carb Lemon Chiffon Cake
No crumb will be left behind!

The first few times I made this cake all I did to combine the dry ingredients was to whisk them together. Then, using a small tea strainer, I sifted and folded the dry mix into the egg whites, in four equal parts.

Sifting and folding the first two of the four portions of the dry mixture was always the hardest to incorporate into the whites. It just didn’t dissolve very well into the whites, like how my other gluten free flours would.

Make no mistake, the cake never failed to come out melt-in-your-mouth, even the first time I made it. But I’m a recipe hacker, and I knew I could make the folding easier, and upgrade the cake.

So I thought, what if the coconut flour was super super fine, and also blended into the protein powder more uniformly.

The secret, which I found out after many trials of baking  and eating every crumb of this deliciousness, was to sift the dry ingredients twice. ( I bet a third time would be even more of a charm, but that would be torture having to wait even longer to eat this cake!)

So here’s what I did: Instead of just whisking the dry ingredients with a fork and calling it a day, I sifted them after whisking them together. And that first sifting made all the difference.

The second sifting comes when it’s time to incorporate the dry mix into the egg whites.

Here is a video on how to fold ingredients into egg whites. Focus on the folding technique.

For my lemon cake it takes about 14 minutes to fold in all the ingredients, including the squash mixture and lemon. When folding in the lemon juice and extract I do that in about 3-4 folds, so I don’t break down the whites. Same with the poppy seeds and lemon zest. Less is more-She’s so right!

The addition of the first sifting really made the difference in how much easier I was able to fold the dry ingredients into the whites. And you can see how creamy and smooth the batter is! (It’s really hard not to eat the cake batter, so I do!).

"top shot of cake batter in aluminum pan and ramekin"
Sifting the dry ingredients twice makes all the difference.

I really think sifting is key when using coconut flour in any recipe that calls for it, since it’s such a heavy, clumpy flour. And if you’re not afraid of a few extra carbs, like 2 of them OMG, you can always add 1 tsp of cream of tartar to the dry mix, which I find makes the combination of coconut flour and whey protein lighter, and more uniform in texture for folding.

The cream of tartar actually makes for a more fluffy crumb, and I’ll have that recipe posted shortly.

The pictures above and below are of the cake baked at 350 degrees in a convection oven, not a traditional oven, and this one was slightly under baked, where the edges are only slightly brown. It’s OK though, because being slightly under baked can also help give it that creamy melt-in-your-mouth explosion, just with a little less crisp to the crust.

If you use a convection oven, click here to get appropriate recipe adjustments.

I like my cake a bit more brown and crispy on top. So I generally bake the cake so it’s uniformly golden brown, with the edges a bit more brown and crisp. And it still has the melt-in-your-mouth sensation, equally as good. (There’s a picture of this in the baking experiment section below)

The batter also makes super muffins ( I use silicon baking cups so they don’t stick), as well as a yummy mini muffin-cake like this one below, which was baked in a ramekin.

"lemon poppy seed muffin in red ramekin...sitting on table"
Tastes great as a mini cake or muffin too!

Before baking this cake make sure to read all of the notes below, including my oven temp experiments, as well as the recipe ingredients and steps. So keep reading…!

Some baking notes before starting:

Oven Temperatures:

Make sure your oven is calibrated and is accurate. Most ovens are not. I always recommend an oven thermometer to make sure.

In fact my oven bounces around and I often have to keep adjusting the oven for the first half of the baking time.

Oven Temperature Experiments:

These all produce yummy  cakes with slightly different textures.

At first I baked this cake at 375 for 30 minutes and let it sit for 10 a few minutes before trying ( I couldn’t help myself, it smelled so good!). It was light and fluffy in the middle, very moist. The top of the cake was deep yellow with deep golden hues. Not deep brown..but golden brown.  You don’t want to let it get to the deep browned top stage, or else the inside will not have that melt-in-your-mouth experience.

However, this cake is very forgiving, and even if you really brown the top (like, a few times when I forgot-it-in-the-oven for 40 minutes brown!) the cake will still taste great, just a bit more cake-like, with a soft spongy crumb.

I also baked it at 365 degrees for 33-35 minutes. For my taste, I think this is the best oven temperature, and amount of time in the oven. I find at this temp and time the edges and top are crisp, and it still springs back to the touch, leaving you with a light melt-in-your-mouth experience. I prefer the juxtaposition of crisp and melt-in-your-mouth textures. Here is a picture of how I like it…

This is how I like my cake baked...all golden brown with a crispier crust...Yum!
This is how I like my cake baked…all golden brown with a crispier crust…Yum!

I also baked it at 350 for 35 minutes (the pictures at the beginning of the blog post) and it was very moist, had the melt in your mouth texture, but the sides and tops weren’t as crispy as the 365 degree cake (and I love crispy!). This is always a good go-to temperature for baking this cake.

And, lastly, like some traditional angel food cake recipes,  I tried pre heating the oven to 375, reducing the temp to about 365, and lettigng it bake for about 33 minutes, or until the tops got golden brown all over and it was still soft to the touch. These too were delicious, and had the crisp and melt in your mouth sensation.

For convection oven adjustments click here.

Any of these should work!

Mashing the squash into creaminess:

Here’s what the squash/egg/coconut milk mixture should look like. It should be like a thick gravy, that will sit on top of the egg whites and not crash or run through them.

This is a picture of pureed squash
Get it nice and creamy, like a thick gravy!

Beating the Egg Whites:

After adding the cream of tartar, beat the whites until soft peaks, where they just fold over. Then add your sweetener of choice. Then beat just until stiff peaks form and no longer. They should look moist and shiny. So check the whites about 30 seconds after you add the sweetener.  You don’t want to over beat where the whites become dry and crack.

Folding ingredients into batter:

Folding coconut flour:

As you go underneath the whites scraping from bottom, up and over, you will notice pockets of the dry mix as you fold. Be patient and keep folding. It takes time to get the coconut flour all mixed in. Just when you thought it was all mixed you’ll suddenly see another pocket of dry mix on another fold!!! Keep folding!!

Take your time, go slow, and breathe through your tummy!! This is the Zen part of baking. Be super gentle and remember, less is more. Use a soft touch, as if you were helping a wounded chick back into it’s nest. You want to be that gentle!

Frosting And Layering The Cake:

Sometimes we just need a little more decadence in our life! Layering or frosting this cake with Delightfultastebud’s yummy lemon curd is sure to take it to the next level of YUM. And it’s a great way to use up the extra egg yolks, too.  So go to town. If you count your macros remember to add this in!

I will have a chocolate ganash frosting on the blog soon, too! So check back, or sign up for my newsletter to get regular updates.

Nutrition Values:

The nutrition value for this cake is for using Splenda. So the carb count will be higher. That’s why I divided up the servings into four. But if  you’re not concerned then eat the whole cake if you want!!

If using erythritol/Stevia blend then I count the net carbs at below 10 for the entire cake, since erythritol and stevia don’t spike insulin. Personally no-calorie sweeteners don’t have an affect on my body composition, so I don’t stress about them. Make your own decision.

But I’m not a food Nazi so eat how much of it that you want, whenever you want. Just enjoy it when you do 🙂

Experiment and let me know what you like.

I want to thank my friend Jos, at delighfultastebuds, for baking and taking such lovely pictures of my low carb melt-in-your-mouth lemon ‘chiffon’ poppy seed cake. It was so nice of her to help out. I didn’t hear any complaints, most likely because by the time she was finished her tummy was full. Lucky for me I got such great pictures before she ate up all the goods!

I know it looks like there are a million steps to this recipe, but many of them are just explanations.

If you want more of my low carb and post workout gluten free treats, most of which you can eat as a complete yummy meal, make sure to sign up for my newsletter for weekly updates and recipes 🙂

Alas, let’s get baking!

Low Carb Melt-In-Your-Mouth Lemon Chiffon Poppy Seed Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A low carb lemon poppy seed chiffon-like cake that melts in your mouth with each bite. This cake can be eaten as a complete meal, assuming your macros allow it. So enjoy each bite til the end!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert/Meal
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
  • 2 deep cereal sized bowls
  • Small dish or cup for lemon juice and lemon extract
  • 1 large glass or metal mixing bowl that is clean and dry (this is a must for the egg whites)
  • Flexible rubber spatula
  • Hand mixer or stand mixer ( I use a hand mixer, but I wish I had a stand mixer, hint hint!)
  • 7 (best) or 8 inch aluminum pie plates (yes, those cheap ones make the cake come out the best)
  • Hand sifter or metal strainer (I use a small tea strainer and sift in batches)
  • Optional: Silicon muffin cups for some quick muffins, or ramekins for mini cakes
  • coconut oil for greasing tins
  • Ingredients:
  • 4 Egg whites
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp organic lemon extract
  • 1 tsp lemon rind zest(optional)
  • 2 Tbsp baked Japanese pumpkin or Kabocha squash(Approximately 30gr, weighed after baking ) or any other baked winter squash, or canned pumpkin like LIbby's. Make sure there are NO spices and sugar in the LIbby's.
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ scant tsp guar or xanthum gum
  • 3 gr (approx. 1 tsp) poppy seed
  • 7 grams weighed of a sugar free, no carb plain whey protein powder. You can also use vanilla if that's all you have but I haven't tried that yet.
  • pinch salt
  • 10 gr Granulated Splenda, not the baking splenda, or packets
  • Optional instead of Splenda:1/2 cup erythritol (separated into two ¼ cups , and then powdered into powdered sugar) and1 tsp liquid stevia( or ½ tsp powdered stevia if you prefer it to the liquid-I don't like powdered stevia that much) Primal version
  • 1-2 Tbsp water if needed to make squash mixture consistency of a thick gravy, maybe more depending on moisture content of your squash.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Grease aluminum pie plates with coconut oil, and/or ramekins if using.
  3. Separate eggs and let the whites sit for at least 20 minutes to bring them to room temperature
  4. Set aside 2 egg yolks in small bowl. (The remaining yolks you can freeze for later use)
  5. Whisk dry ingredients together with the 5 grams of Splenda that has been powdered, into small bowl (or if using erythritol and powdered stevia combo, powder ¼ cup of erythritol, using coffee grinder, and sift that with the dry ingredients, along with the stevia powder. If using liquid stevia then add this to the egg mixture)
  6. Re sift dry mix into another small bowl.
  7. In a cereal bowl, If using baked squash, first mash it with a fork to get it as soft, smooth, and creamy as possible. If using pumpkin just stir it to get it creamy.
  8. Next, add in coconut milk one tbsp at a time and mash it further until it becomes even more creamy and smooth.
  9. Then add in egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to blend with fork continuing to make the mixture as smooth as you can.
  10. Add in vanilla.
  11. Add in liquid stevia here if using.
  12. Add in any water that you need to get it to the consistency of thick gravy(see picture), one tbsp at a time. There should be no chunks in the puree, but it also should not be too think and runny. It's fine if it's of pourable consistency, again, like a thick gravy.
  13. Set aside.
  14. In large glass bowl beat egg whites until foamy
  15. Add cream of tartar
  16. Beat until soft peaks form
  17. Add the other 5 grams (approx ¼ cup)granulated Splenda, by pouring small portion at a time over egg whites and then beating, so the Splenda doesn't fly all over the place. (or, if using, do the same with the other ¼ cup of powdered erythritol)
  18. Beat until stiff peaks form
  19. Set aside. If it is very humid or hot in your kitchen put the egg whites in the fridge while preparing the other parts of the cake.
  20. With the beaters still attached and a little bit of egg white still on them, beat the squash mixture one last time!
  21. Pour squash mixture gently on top of the egg white mixture. Gently smooth them over the top of the egg whites evenly. They should sit on top without dissolving the egg whites.
  22. Gently fold the squash mixture into the egg whites until the egg whites are uniform in color. Do not rush this part. (If you are not experienced with folding please refer to the video link on folding). This may take about 3 minutes. Be sure to get underneath the egg whites, and bring up and over, turning the bowl as you go. Slow turtle wins the race here!!
  23. Combine the lemon juice and lemon extract in small dish.
  24. Fold lemon mixture into egg white using about 3-4 folds. If you are not using lemon juice, use 1-1½ tsp lemon extract, depending on how lemony you like your cake. I like mine lemony!
  25. Fold in grated lemon rind using 2-3 folds.
  26. Then fold in poppy seeds until incorporated. They hide in pockets so make sure they all get folded in.
  27. Fold in dry mixture, in 4 equal parts, sifting each part over egg whites and incorporating it into the whites before sifting in the next part. This takes time. And as you go underneath the whites scraping from bottom, up and over, you will notice pockets of the dry mix as you fold. Be patient and keep folding. It takes time to get the coconut flour all mixed in. Just when you thought it was all mixed you'll suddenly see another pocket of dry mix on another fold!!! Keep folding!!
  28. For best results Bake in 7 or 8 inch aluminum tin (the cheap flimsy ones you get at Walgreens or the grocery store) at 350 for about 30-35 minutes...
  29. Tops will be light golden brown and edges will be slightly brown, starting to get crispy. Top should still be soft to the touch. (Please refer back to baking notes above)
  30. If using muffin cups fill up 70% to top, same with ramekins. It will make about 6 muffins
  31. Check muffins at 25 minutes. Tops should be golden brown. For ramekins about 30 minutes. For cake, check at 33 minutes, it may be done then, depending on your oven. They are done when the tops of cake or muffins are uniformly golden brown along with the edges slightly brown.
  32. For more of a creamy texture slightly under bake.
  33. Let cool and set for about 15 minutes. I know... this is the hard part! I hardly wait that long!
  34. Run a think knife around the edges.
  35. Slice in quarters, or eat the whole thing. Who cares, just eat it now!!
Notes
Be sure to use granulated splenda and not the packets.
If using erythritol, powder both the ¼ cup that is added into the egg whites, as well as that which is added into the dry mix.
If using liquid stevia with the erythritol, use 1 tsp. If using powdered stevia use about ¼-1/2 tsp.
If you like your cake more crispy on top then let the top get brown.
At all suggested temperatures the cake will be done in 30-35 minutes. It's a very forgiving recipe!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 Calories: 85.5 Fat: 4.5 Carbohydrates: 6.75 Sugar: .75 Fiber: 1.75 Protein: 7.25

 

"this is a picture of the baked cake in aluminum pan, taken from top shot"
Who can resist a lemon poppy seed cake?

 

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