The Vintage Chiffon Cake Site

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The Chiffon Cake, by all accounts, is credited to Harry Baker, a former insurance salesman who took up baking as a hobby. The cake is said to have been born, in Los Angeles, California, when Baker substituted the solid fat in his personal recipe with oil. Some time after creating the cake, Baker established himself as a caterer and began asking restaurants near his residence if they would sell it to their customers. One such restaurant was The Brown Derby [in Hollywood]. Baker's oil-based cake was a hit. Pretty soon, it was being served to movie stars of the time period, who began frequenting the restaurant just to try it. That likely had more to do with the fact that one of the founders of the Brown Derby chain, Herbert Somborn, was an ex-husband to Gloria Swanson, but the cake's popularity soared.

Baker was swarmed with order requests for the cake. He was so protective of the recipe (and its secret ingredient) that he baked each cake to order himself. Eventually, Baker hung up his apron after growing tired of customer demand, but he knew the cake was special—so much so that he contacted General Mills/Betty Crocker [in 1947) and asked if they would be interested in acquring his recipe. They were. Baker gave up his highly-guarded recipe for an undisclosed sum. The following year, 1948, Betty Crocker made the recipe available to the public via a cooking pamphlet titled, "Betty Crocker Chiffon Cake Recipes and Secrets," touting it as the, "biggest news in cake-making in a century!," and the recipe spread like wildfire. The rest, of course, is history!