Sunday, May 1, 2011

Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake



Since Mother's Day is coming up next week, I thought I'd post this beautiful chiffon cake recipe.  It's very spring-y and the presentation is gorgeous.  I have made it for several special occasions and it's always well-received.  This is one of my favorite cakes to make. 

Chiffon cakes are naturally very moist and light, which is a perfect partner for the strawberries, mascarpone and whipped cream. The cake seems complicated, but it really isn't difficult. If you don't have time, you can use a boxed mix for the cake and just beat the batter on high for a minute or so to incorporate some extra air. If using a boxed mix, go with white or vanilla cake mix and make sure to add the lemon zest as indicated. It really does take the cake to another level.
  • Flavor/Texture: Not too sweet and the whole cake is very light. The vanilla, strawberry and lemon zest work together beautifully.
  • Difficulty: This recipe requires some work and a light hand, but it's not hard.  Make sure that your equipment (bowls, spatulas and beaters) are VERY clean and dry before whipping the egg whites or making the frosting. Do not overwork your batter when folding in the egg whites. Mix it gently until everything is just combined.
  • Pros: It's both delicious and stunning. Great for special occasions and everyday.
  • Cons: Takes a bit of work, but it's well worth it.
  • Misc: This time around, I added 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the recipe to make a chocolate cake instead of white. The recipe works either way, but I just think the chocolate adds a little contrast and looks better. I don't worry too much about trimming the berries while putting the filling together. You can even out the tops of the berries with the filling itself, for the most part. I also add sliced strawberries to the top of the cake for some more visual interest. It is very important to do a crumb layer and then an additional layer of frosting because any flecks of the cake in the white frosting are very visible.
  • Encore Performance: This cake is already a regular in my rotation of favorite desserts. I make it frequently when strawberries are in high season.

Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake
adapted from a recipe by Amy Wisniewski

For the berries:
2 pints strawberries, rinsed and hulled (about 4 cups)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest


For the cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar

For the filling:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the frosting:
1 tbsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp sugar
3 cups heavy cream

For the berries:
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss the strawberries to coat. Let the berries macerate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before using.

Gently strain berries and reserve syrup for later use.

For the cake:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, combine vegetable oil, water, lemon zest, vanilla extract, egg yolks, and 1 1/4 cups of the sugar. Whip on medium speed, until mixture is airy and light in color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl; add dry ingredients and whip until smooth, about 1 minute more.

In a clean bowl, whip egg whites to medium peaks. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute more. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the cake batter until evenly incorporated; gently fold in remaining egg whites until just combined.

Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake until surface of cakes springs back when pressed and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove cakes from the oven, and let cool 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of each, and turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling and the frosting.

For the filling:
Combine mascarpone cheese and heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the frosting:
Place the cleaned bowl of the stand mixer and the whip attachment in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Combine vanilla extract, sugar, and heavy cream in the chilled bowl and whip at medium speed until medium peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least one hour. (The frosting can be prepared up to 12 hours ahead

To assemble:
Using a long serrated knife, trim the tops of the cakes as necessary so they are level. Place cake rounds on a clean, dry surface and, using a pastry brush, brush 1/2 of the reserved strawberry syrup on the cut side of the first cake round; repeat on the cut side of the second cake round.

Evenly spread 1/4 of the mascarpone filling over the cut side of the bottom cake layer. Arrange strawberries standing upright, stem end down, over the mascarpone layer and trim as necessary to create an even layer. Cover berries with the remaining filling, being sure to fill in any empty space.

Place second cake layer over mascarpone and strawberries, cut side down, pressing gently to secure it. Using an offset spatula or a long, thin spatula, spread 3/4 cup of the frosting in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Return remaining frosting and cake to the refrigerator until frosting on cake is set, about 15 minutes.

Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides of the cake. Let sit in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before serving.

I guarantee your mom will love it!


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