Great Grandma’s Daffodil Cake

Great Grandma’s Daffodil Cake


Great Grandma's Daffodil Cake at 1840 FarmAngel food cake was one of the first recipes that I taught myself to bake.  I was around twelve years old when I first separated a dozen eggs and followed the recipe in one of my mother’s cookbooks.  I marveled at the egg whites as they were transformed into a light and airy meringue and baked into a delicious angel food cake.

That was decades ago.  Now I find myself with my own daughter who is twelve years old.  We love to spend time in the kitchen baking and cooking together.  I also find myself as a chicken keeper with a supply of fresh eggs to use in our baking recipes.

It’s the chicken keeper in me that shies away from making traditional angel food cake.  My reason is simple:  I can’t bear the thought of having a dozen egg yolks that are purposely cast aside from a recipe. I make an exception when it comes to meringue cookies.  It’s no great feat to find a way to use the three egg yolks left behind.  Twelve egg yolks left from an angel food cake are quite another thing.

Luckily, I don’’t have to.  Earlier this year, my Mom shared my Great grandmother’s handwritten recipe for daffodil cake with me.  Instead of twelve eggs, it called for only six.  My great grandparents were farmers and chicken keepers.  Apparently they didn’t want to cast aside twelve egg yolks either.

Instead, they baked Daffodil Cake.  As soon as I read the recipe, I understood why.  The technique was altogether simple and brilliant.  This cake would allow me to celebrate the best of both the egg white and egg yolk in one delicious cake.

My daughter and I gathered in our farmhouse kitchen this spring to make our first daffodil cake.  I watched the look on her face as she whipped the egg whites into a beautifully made meringue.  We worked together until the cake preparation was complete.  She slid the cake into the oven, set the timer and we wondered aloud how the finished cake would look and taste.

I am happy to report that we loved both the taste and appearance of the daffodil cake.  The color of the egg yolk mixture was a strikingly beautiful yellow.  The texture was light and airy and the flavor was everything I love about an angel food cake and more.

The egg yolks added a delicious richness to the cake without compromising the lightness of the meringue.  It wasn’t a fancy cake.  Instead, it was the cake of a farmer, the dessert of a chicken keeper.  This cake celebrated the beauty of fresh eggs.  Each bite reminded me that I was proud to be a chicken keeper and collect fresh eggs from our coop every day.

More than that, the whole experience created a memory that I will hold close for a lifetime.  Standing in our farmhouse kitchen with my daughter baking a cake from a recipe in her Great great grandmother‘s handwriting was a moment that connected the generations of my family past and present.  Having a delicious cake to share around our family table was merely a bonus.


Great Grandma's Daffodil Cake
  1. 6 large eggs
  2. ¼ teaspoon salt
  3. ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  4. ¾ cup (144 grams) granulated sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. ½ cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
  7. 2 Tablespoons warm water
  8. ½ cup (96 grams) granulated sugar
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  11. ½ cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
  2. Separate all six eggs, placing the egg whites in a large bowl that has been wiped clean with a paper towel moistened with white vinegar. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the salt to the egg whites and beat at medium-high speed using a hand mixer or stand mixer until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat at high speed, adding the ¾ cup sugar a few Tablespoons at a time until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. Set the meringue aside as you prepare the egg yolk mixture.
  4. Add the warm water to the egg yolks and mix on medium speed using a whisk or mixer. Add ½ cup sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder, and flour. Mix until the batter is completely smooth.
  5. Using a spatula, gently move a portion of the meringue away from the side of its mixing bowl.
  6. Add the vanilla and ½ cup flour to the space created by moving the meringue. This step prevents the weight of the flour from deflating the airy meringue. Using the spatula, gently fold the meringue until the flour and vanilla extract are fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
  7. Transfer two thirds of the meringue mixture to an ungreased angel food cake pan, spreading lightly if necessary to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the egg yolk mixture to the pan. There is no need to spread the yolk mixture or completely cover the meringue. Add the remaining meringue to the pan. Using a skewer or toothpick, lightly swirl the two batters by moving in a random pattern around the pan.
  8. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. When fully baked, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out with crumbs attached. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cake to cool.
  9. Once cool, run a sharp knife or small metal offset spatula around the outside of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert the cool cake onto a plate. Slice the cake into slices and serve plain or dressed with fresh berries and whipped cream.
  1. The light, airy texture of this cake depends on a properly beaten meringue. A mile high meringue is easily achievable with one easy step. Simply wipe your mixing bowl and beaters with a paper towel moistened with white vinegar before beating the egg whites. This will ensure that your bowl and beaters are free of any traces of fat. Fat residue jeopardizes your ability to whip the egg whites into a meringue with stiff, glossy peaks.
  2. To prevent batter from falling into the center tube as you are transferring the batter to the pan, place an overturned cupcake wrapper over the tube. Fill the pan, remove the wrapper, and bake as directed without letting any of the batter go to waste.
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  1. this looks lovely…I can’t wait to try it. Thank you very much for sharing!
    Trudy of Windermere Farm in Indiana

  2. Could this be baked as cupcakes?
    I would be perfect if it could!

    1. Author

      I haven’t tried this batter baked as cupcakes, but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t. I hope that you’ll let me know how they turn out for you!

  3. I’m confused….do you add flour to yolk mixture & the meringue so Itd be a total of 1 cup of flour?

    1. Oops never mind! I reread it! Sorry!

      1. Author

        There’s no need to apologize. I’m so glad that you were able to answer your own question before I had the chance to see it and point you in the right direction. I hope that it turns out beautifully and that you enjoy it as much as we do!

  4. What does this mean: Position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Should the rack be on the very bottom? or just below the halfway mark in the oven?

    1. Author

      Ideally, the oven rack would be just below the halfway mark. Placing the cake in the bottom third will allow it to rise without running the risk of bumping into the top of the oven or broiling element. I hope that you’ll enjoy this cake as much as we do!

  5. No butter in it? I tried other cakes without butter in it and it did not turn out well so would it be right to do without the butter? Would it turn out well or do u add 1 cup butter as well?

    1. Author

      There’s no need to add butter to this cake. In fact, adding butter would work against the meringue, yielding a very heavy, dense cake. This cake will be light and airy thanks to the egg whites and also have a rich flavor from the yolks, so there’s no need to add any butter, I promise!

  6. What is cream of tartar can I leave that as I dont know where to get it from or how to make it

    1. Author

      Cream of tartar is a fine white powder that adds acidity to the egg whites and helps to stabilize the meringue. I find it in the spice section of our local markets. If you cannot find it, you can make the recipe without it. Your egg whites will probably require a few extra minutes of whipping, but the finished cake will be just as delicious.

  7. Please tell me how can I make strawberry syrup and cream chese at home.I saw in some recipes these are needed to make the frosting for the cake

    1. Author

      I apologize for missing your original message. I don’t usually add any frosting to this cake. Instead, I serve it with fresh berries and whipped cream. While I don’t have a recipe for cream cheese, here is my recipe for strawberry syrup:

  8. Nob8dy replied my query

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