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FREE JOY: the recipe

Well heeeeeey! Long time! But now that I'm bringing recipes back (for those of you who have been a part of the Zen & Sugar family for a while, y'all know this started as a baking blog, now located here) I knew it meant time for the blog to come back as well!

And because it's always fun to have a nice soundscape while you bake, I'm gonna suggest you listen to my latest podcast episode, Free Joy, which was inspired by this cake, and which I hope inspires you to go in search of more joy this year.

So, without further ado....badadadadadadadadada (that's my impression of a drumroll)

Orange Rose Water Chiffon Cake

adapted from the cookbook, Honey & Jam, by Hannah Queen!

You can purchase it by clicking here (I highly recommend it!)


For the cake:

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cardamom

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

7 large eggs, separated (if you're like, "how the fuck do I separate eggs?!" click here)

Zest and juice of 2 or 3 oranges (enough to make 1/2 cup juice)

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

For the filling and whipped cream:

2 cups heavy cream/whipping cream

1 tbsp powdered sugar

2 tbsp honey

2-3 tsp rosewater

4 tbsp orange jam or marmalade

For the topping:

1/2 cup salted pistachios

Orange zest


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Coat three 9 inch round cake pans with baking spray and then line them with parchment.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, orange zest and juice, and 1/2 cup water.

  4. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined (I usually use a rubber spatula to mix instead of a whisk or a spoon, because nothing sticks to it and I just make sure to really fold everything in)

You can also use a whisk, but to make sure everything doesn't get stuck to the whisk, I highly recommend a whisk wiper, which you can get here.

5. Either using an electric hand mixer or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form (about 5-7 minutes)

6. Using a rubber spatula, fold half the egg whites into the batter (the bowl with the wet and dry ingredients already mixed) until almost fully incorporated.

7. Add the remaining egg whites and fold them as well. Be careful to not over mix, just be gentle and kind of make the motion like you're tucking the egg whites into bed.

8. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans. Use the spatula to smooth the tops, and, if you're like me and don't mind loud noises, feel free to tap the bottoms of the pans onto the counter or the table to make sure the batter is really evenly distributed throughout the pan.

9. Bake from around 23 to 28 minutes (what weird times, right? It took me 28, but the original recipe said 22 to 25, so basically, if you're not sure, use a toothpick to poke the center of the cake and if it comes out without a bunch of batter on it, you're good!)

10. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Then turn the cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely. These cakes will be sticky and that is OKAY! That's how they're meant to be.

11. Let the cakes cool completely on the racks before putting on the whipped cream.

12. In a large bowl, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, honey, and rose water. Using your hand mixer or the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip that shit until it, well, looks like fucking whipped cream! But really, wait until it looks like it's got form, like it's got heft! You don't want drippy whipped cream! It should take around 5-7 minutes.

13. Now it's time to assemble! Place the bottom layer of the cake on the plate, cake stand, cardboard box, whatever you're using to serve it with.

14. Place the orange jam or marmalade in the microwave and get it a little warm so that it becomes more of a liquid than a jam.

15. Spread a thin layer of the orange jam or marmalade on the bottom layer, followed by a generous amount of the whipped cream.

16. Place the second layer of cake on top of the first and spread a thin layer of the orange jam or marmalade on it, followed by a generous amount of the whipped cream.

17. Place the top layer on top of the second layer and, no marmalade this time, spread whipped cream on top and allow it to spill out onto the sides.

18. Using a rubber spatula, spread the remaining whipped cream around the cake. Let it be messy! There is so much charm in imperfection. Also, naked cakes are in!

19. Use a paper towel to wipe any excess whipped cream that has fallen onto the plate or cake board, etc.

20. Scatter the pistachios and some extra fresh orange zest onto the top of the cake.

21. Voila! You've made it! Now it's time to cut a slice and taste the fruits of your labor!

Til next time,


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