Strawberry & Nectarine Chiffon Cake

A dash of mint and lemon zest dress up the pile of summer fruit in this airy chiffon treat. # 186: Strawberry & Nectarine Chiffon Cake

It started with a craving for strawberry shortcake. A cloud of chantilly cream on top of a pile of fresh strawberries and a sweet scone-like base. Yup. You know the drill. Oddly enough, I don’t have a go-to shortcake recipe, so this sparked a dive through my cookbooks and favorite blogs for an easy option. I stopped dead in my online tracks when I came across Smitten Kitchen’s chiffon cake version. Not exactly what I was going for but dang did it sound good.

You know that glorious moment when you notice all the nectarines in your fruit bowl are perfectly ripe? That happened the same morning as the chiffon cake recipe discovery and it seemed like fate. The world is falling apart here in California, but at least I have fresh fruit, cream and a promising cake recipe. It’s the little things.

A chiffon cake is the happy middle ground between an angel food cake and a pound cake. They have the richness of a pound cake but the airiness of an angel food cake, thanks to whipping the egg whites before incorporating them but also adding in plenty of fat from the egg yolks and oil. The use of oil instead of butter is a plus and a minus:

  • Oil is liquid at room temperature, so it creates a moist crumb and keeps the texture lovely for a few days longer than a butter cake (not that they ever last more than a day in this house!)
  • Sadly the lack of butter means no milk solids to create that caramelized yummy flavor.

I halved Deb’s recipe this time, but next time I definitely want to make a soaring tower of cake with four layers! Maybe a different kind of summer fruit in between each layer? Ooph, I can’t wait.

A promising line-up.

Gettin’ zesty.

Yes, this is one of those recipes that you should actually sift your flour for. Do it.

From egg white bubbles . . .

. . . to snowy peaks! Looks like Mt. Crumpet from The Grinch.

Fold gently – protect the bubbles!

I only lined the bottom of the tin and crossed my fingers that the pan is truly non-stick. I remember reading that when making angel food cake, you want to not oil the sides of the pan so the batter has something to grip on to as it rises. But angel food cake relies almost entirely on egg whites for leavening, where as chiffon has baking powder as well. I compromised and super lightly greased the sides!

Ta-daa! Love a good compromise.

Luckily for this cake, I had some leftover mint from another recipe (side note: the mint chicken recipe from Burma Superstar is literally the yummiest thing ever.) Added a little bit of sugar and more lemon zest to the strawberries and then mixed in sliced nectarines. * Chef’s kiss *

I used a serrated bread knife to slice it into two layers, so it was a tiny bit rough. Good thing it’ll be hidden under fruit and cream!

The very best kind of fruit salad.

I put a little too much vanilla in the whipped cream, but that’s an OK problem to have.

Feeling extra fancy!

Getting all the good angles.

Happy munching!

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