fresh strawberries and whipped cream to make your
chiffon cake stand out.
people wouldn’t think of strawberry shortcake as a
divisive dessert. But it is.
debate centers on the base: biscuit or cake, and then it can
delve into what kind of cake, angel food or pound,
shortbread or sponge. A story I wrote last spring left out
one cake that many consider the best pedestal for
strawberries and whipped cream: chiffon cake.
cake is one of the only cakes to have originated in America.
Chapel Hill, N.C., cookbook author Jean Anderson shares its
history in "The American Century Cookbook."
seems a Los Angeles insurance salesman named Harry Baker
developed the recipe, a cross between an airy angel food
cake and a sumptuous butter cake. Baker, a hobby cook, began
making the cakes for celebrity functions and the famous
Brown Derby restaurants and, finally, sold the recipe to
General Mills in 1947. Chiffon cake became popular in the
1950s after appearing in a Betty Crocker cookbook.
the most vocal fans of chiffon cake was April McGreger, a
former pastry chef at Lantern in Chapel Hill who now owns
Farmer’s Daughter brand pickles and preserves.
discovered chiffon cake while working at Lantern. She had
cooked her way through the cake canon, but nothing had the
ideal texture she wanted for strawberry shortcake: Genoise
was too dry. Angel food was too "cottony." Chiffon
cake was different. The whipped egg whites gave it a
fluffiness like angel food, egg yolks gave it a richness
like a butter cake and vegetable oil gave it a softness
that, McGreger says, is an American preference from cake
uses chiffon cake to re-create her childhood birthday treat:
a strawberry tall cake that her mother made using yellow
version requires two chiffon cakes, baked in springform
pans, cut in half vertically to create four layers. She
macerates fresh strawberries with honey and either lemon
juice or orange flower water, and lets that sit for a couple
of hours. She then makes barely sweetened fresh whipped
cream. She takes a layer of cake and tops it with
strawberries, a thin cap of whipped cream, and the next cake
layer. She repeats that twice more, tops it with the final
cake layer and covers the entire cake with whipped cream.
The cake should sit in the refrigerator for several hours
can follow McGreger’s instructions for a strawberry tall
cake or you can go simple: a slice of cake, a dollop of
whipped cream and sliced fresh strawberries.
way, you will likely become a chiffon cake fan.
April McGreger of Farmer’s Daughter brand pickles and
cups sifted cake flour (8 ounces)
teaspoons baking powder
cups sugar, divided
cup vegetable oil
yolks (about 1/2 cup)
cup water or orange juice
tablespoon grated lemon zest
teaspoons pure vanilla extract
whites (about 1 1/3 cups)
teaspoon cream of tartar or lemon juice
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 10-inch
springform pan (3 inches high) with parchment paper cut to
fit. Do not butter or flour the pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 1/4 cups
sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add
oil, yolks, water or orange juice, lemon zest and vanilla.
Whisk well for about 1 minute or until smooth.
Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until
frothy. Add cream of tartar or lemon juice and beat until
whites hold soft peaks. With the mixer running, slowly mix
in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat whites until they are
glossy and hold stiff peaks. The peak of egg whites on the
end of the beater should not droop when you turn the beaters
a large whisk or spatula to gently stir about a third of the
whites into the batter to lighten it. Then gently fold in
the remaining whites until just blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan and level the top. Bake for 45
to 55 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes
Place cake on a wire rack and let it cool completely in the
pan. Run a spatula or knife around the outside edge of the
cake and unmold it from the pan. Peel off the parchment and
place the cake on a serving platter. Garnish lightly with
powdered sugar to serve.
one 10-inch cake.