Strawberry Chiffon Layer Cake

strawberry chiffon layer cake

I’m not sure what’s come over me lately, but I am absolutely hooked on multilayer cakes. This is the second such cake I’ve made in less than a week — and I’m seriously considering having one in the fridge at all times this month. Is this a problem? Not helping matters, Marie Antoinette is now on Hulu — all of those elaborate, candy colored cakes and pastries (and bubbly in champagne coupes) … to die for!

Alas, I had every intention of using these chiffon layers for a far less summery Boston Cream Pie (the pastry cream is still hanging out in my fridge, awaiting its sponge cake and ganache mates). However, once I tasted the trimmings — because those are a terrible thing to waste — it was clearly not right for my initial idea. Strawberries and whipped cream most certainly were, though!

Given the height of the final design, I figured an extra-stable whipped cream would be best. Typically, I sweeten mine with powdered sugar because I don’t enjoy the gritty texture that results from the addition of granulated. As a happy consequence, it also lends more stability than the latter. And as of now — nearly a day later — the cake hasn’t weeped or sunk one bit, so I’ll call it a success. (I did accidentally knock it over just now, but that says more about my clumsiness than anything else.)

For the look, I was going for the whipped cream from a can effect — achieved with some success using a large, open star tip (as you can see in the photo, I need to practice!). But if pastry bags and piping aren’t your deal, feel free to plop the whipped cream on top and spread it about with a spatula. Or simply serve wedges of cake (no need to level and cut into layers, and the preserves may be omitted) with a pile of strawberries and generous dollop of not-quite-as-stiffly-whipped whipped cream on the side. No biggie!

Basically, if you enjoy the classic angel food cake, whipped cream and strawberries combination, this cake’s for you!

Strawberry Chiffon Layer Cake

(chiffon cake heavily adapted from Tartine – Basic Chiffon Cake for Bûche de Noël)

Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours

Inactive Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours+

Baking Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 8+


Chiffon Cake:

  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 40 grams (1/3 cup) millet flour
  • 40 grams (1/3 cup) garbanzo-fava flour
  • 48 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
  • 24 grams (3 tablespoons) arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 96 grams (1/2 cup) granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) canola oil
  • 78 grams (1/3 cup) water, room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • Whipped Egg Whites:
  • 36 grams (3 tablespoons) granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature

Whipped Cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) crème fraîche, optional
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Everything Else:

  • 1/4 cup (76 grams) apricot preserves, warm, strain and cool to room temp
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, remove stems, hull and slice into 1/8″-1/4″ thick pieces (dry thoroughly!)


Make, Cool and Slice Chiffon Cakes:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Set aside two, 6″ by 3″ tall round cake pans with removable bottoms — do not grease, flour or line with parchment!

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (millet flour through table salt). In a small mixing bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (canola oil through vanilla extract). In a small dish, whisk together granulated sugar and cream of tartar. Beat egg whites to soft peaks (in a stand mixer with whisk attachment, mixing bowl with hand beaters or by hand with a balloon whisk). Gradually sprinkle in sugar mixture while whipping egg whites to stiff, shiny peaks.

Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients, just until smooth. Whisk in 1/3 of the whipped egg whites to lighten the batter; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and smooth tops. Place pans in preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until cake is very lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove pans to a cooling rack, and allow cakes to cool to room temperature before removing from the pans (about 1 hour). Once cakes are completely cooled, run a thin spatula around the outside of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Pop the cake out, and slide the spatula between the cake and pan bottom to detach. Place cake on a cooling rack and transfer to the fridge to cool for about 30 minutes.

Trim any roundness off the top of cakes so they’re level (freehand with a sharp breadknife or with the aid of a cake leveler). Cut each cake into two layers, separate (a cake lifter is helpful, but not totally essential) and brush off any crumbs. Place the layers in the fridge while everything else is prepared.

DO AHEAD: Cakes can be baked, cooled and cut into layers a day before assembly. Wrap each layer in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Prepare Whipped Cream:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachement, beat heavy cream to soft peaks. Add crème fraîche and powdered sugar and beat until it can hold stiff peaks. Fold in vanilla extract. Place 1/4 of the
whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip; set aside.

Assemble Cake:

Cover cake stand or plate with several strips of aluminum foil, leaving a square or triangle of plate exposed in the center. Crimp foil over the edges of the plate to secure it while you work. Center the first cake layer on the stand. Brush the surface with a small amount of the strained and cooled preserves. Holding the pastry bag perpendicular to the cake and about 1/2″ above it, pipe whipped cream in a tight spiral, starting just barely inside the outer edge of the cake. Arrange a single layer of strawberries on top of the piped whipped cream — make a ring around the outer edge then fill in the middle. Pipe a few dollops of whipped cream in the center to help the next layer stick when light pressure is applied. Refill pastry bag with the same amount of whipped cream and repeat this process with two more layers.

Toss the remaining strawberry slices with a teaspoon of the apricot glaze; set aside. Place the last layer on top. Pipe the remaining whipped cream over the surface, getting as close to the edge as possible. Arrange a ring of strawberries around the outside at a 45° angle to the cake’s surface (this helps create a bowl-like shape for the remaining strawberries). Carefully arrange the remaining strawberries over top. Place assembled cake in the fridge until ready to serve. Best when eaten within few hours as the strawberries turn mushy in the fridge.

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  • Reply
    June 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Great looking layered cake Heather! I have vowed to bake something gluten free and vegan this year. I think this one gets my vote for the gluten free goodie!

  • Reply
    Renee @ Tortillas and Honey
    June 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Such a beautiful creation you have here! This is so impressive and gluten free!!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Oh…this offering has my name ALL over it…I absolutely LOVE angel food/chiffon strawberry combos….and love that it is gluten free….Question…Is the xanthan gum critical for its’ success?…It is sooo very expensive here in France…could I possibly use something else?…Arrowroot or golden flax?…Thank you for any insight!

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      November 5, 2013 at 5:59 am

      Hmmm, I bet the chiffon would still be edible without the xanthan, but the texture would just be off (crumblier) and probably not safe to make such a highly stacked cake. Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with xanthan gum substitutions (I’m leaning toward flax more than arrowroot, just because more starch tends to dry things out) — I’ll definitely let you know if I play around with the recipe what my results are!

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