Strawberry Chiffon Cake

Strawberry Chiffon Cake is just lovely for a summer afternoon tea. This recipe uses marinated fresh strawberries and a mascarpone cream filling and frosting. Decorated with fresh strawberries, it looks luscious and delicious!

Chiffon cakes are airy and very pale in colour, which looks great with the strawberries. They are made with oil rather than butter, and they use a lot of eggs compared to the quantity of flour - and this of course is where they get their lightness from.

When we tested the cake, at first we weren't sure whether or not we liked it - it's such a different cake to the Victoria sponge we know and love. :-)

There's no doubt about it - this cake is impressive!

It rises beautifully, behaves extremely well and is much lighter than traditional sponge.

We'd love to know what you think!

Balsamic vinegar helps to develop and bring forward the flavour of the strawberries.

For the filling, we wanted to try something a little different. We soaked the strawberries in a rather expensive balsamic vinegar to bring out the flavour. It was extremely delicious - the strawberries almost didn't make it to the cake!

The vinegar we used was an aged balsamic vinegar that was so thick that it was more like a syrup. You can buy this in most supermarkets - or try a specialist Italian deli. I often drizzle balsamic on to salad. It's so delicious that I don't bother with oil....

Stephen wanted something a little more robust than fresh cream, and so he made a mascarpone cheese and whipped cream filling. The cake is so light that it can easily take the slightly rich filling.

We ended up with an extremely light strawberry chiffon cake full of flavour and sublimely summery.

Strawberry Chiffon Cake

Level: Intermediate
Time: 2 1/4 hours (includes 1 hour cooling)
Makes 10-12 slices

130g (scant 3/4 cup) cake flour (plain flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 eggs, separated yolks/whites
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
80ml (1/3 cup) water (or milk)
80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable or sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla

Filling for Strawberry Chiffon Cake

450g (3 cups) fresh ripe strawberries
1/2 tbsp best quality balsamic vinegar
3 1/2 tbsp icing sugar
225g (1 cup) mascarpone cheese
375ml (1 1/2 cups) whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar

  • Before you cook the cake, you need to marinate the strawberries.

  • Set aside the five best looking strawberries for decoration which will make a 10 serving cake. In fact these are large servings, so you could hold back 6 strawberries for decoration to make a 12 serving cake.

  • Hull the rest of the strawberries and reserve 55g.

  • Chop the strawberries into about a 1cm dice.

  • Put the diced strawberries in a bowl and add 1/2 tbsp of really good balsamic vinegar and 1tbsp of icing sugar. Mix well and chill for at least an hour.

  • Now for the cake. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325F.

  • Lightly grease two 8 inch round cake tins.

  • Mix the baking powder with the flour and sift twice.

  • Add the water, oil and vanilla extract and mix well.

  • Add the flour mixture a third at a time mixing well between each addition. Set aside.

  • Using a very clean bowl and beaters, beat the 6 egg whites on medium speed to stiff peaks and sprinkle on the sugar about 1/2 dessert spoon at a time with the beaters going. Count to 5 between each addition.

  • Use a metal spoon to fold the meringue mixture into the yolk/flour mixture.

  • Divide the batter between the two cake tins and cook in the oven for 40 minutes.

  • Just before the end of the cooking time, set up a cooling rack with a tea towel on and something to rest the rims of the cake tins on – we used egg cups. When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and invert the cake tins straight away, balancing them on your egg cups over the cooling rack. Sometimes the cake may fall out of the tin so don’t have it too high!

    The purpose of doing this is to allow air to flow around the cake while it cools, and to stop it from sinking. Even when the cake falls out (which it has done for us), the cake is quite robust and it will not break. If it does, it will be covered up by the topping anyway!

    When the cake is cooled properly, you can work on the presentation.

Presentation of Strawberry Chiffon Cake

  • Puree the reserved 55g of strawberries with 1/2 tbsp of icing sugar and pass through a nylon sieve to remove the seeds.

  • Drain the balsamic soaked strawberries and pour the liquid into the puree. Stir well. Reserve the strawberries.

  • Prick the flat side of both the cakes all over with a fork – but only about half to one third deep (about 20 times) and spread half the puree on to each half of cake on the pricked side.

  • Beat the mascarpone with 2tbsps of icing sugar until soft and set aside.

  • Whip the cream with ¼ cup of icing sugar and then beat into the mascarpone until well blended smooth and thick (about 45 seconds).

  • Now use about one third of this on the bottom layer of the cake.

  • Spread the reserved strawberries from the balsamic vinegar evenly over the top.

  • Place the second layer of cake (puree side down) onto the base cake, and spread the remaining cream/mascarpone mixture on the top and sides.

  • Cut the reserved strawberries in half and use to decorate the top of the cake. 

  • Chill until ready to serve. This fresh strawberry chiffon cake keeps well (for a cream cake) and can be made a day in advance.

Serve with

In the summer, strawberry cake is lovely with iced mint tea or hibiscus. If you prefer a black tea, I would personally choose Lapsang Souchong - but Stephen prefers Earl Grey.

I think fresh strawberry chiffon cake is really lovely served on its own, with perhaps some extra strawberries.

But as part of an afternoon tea spread, I would suggest serving this strawberry cake alongside cucumber tea sandwiches, little ham sandwiches and tomato and basil sandwiches. For extra little sweets, I would steer clear of more flour to keep it light. You could serve a tray of tiny meringues and fresh strawberries with a pot of earl grey tea.