Buttermilk Chiffon Cake with Berries and Cream

buttermilk chiffon cake

I love a good chiffon cake — honestly, I’d probably eat it over a regular butter cake 95% of the time. Chiffon cake is light and fluffy but still moist, thanks to a bit of oil in the batter. It’s also best served simply. Regular buttercreams are too heavy for this style of cake, so I prefer to top chiffon cakes with some good old whipped cream and a handful of summer’s best berries.

A couple of notes:
  • This cake is a simple one-layer affair, though you could easily double everything and turn this into a naked 2-layer cake as well.
  • I used buttermilk in both the cake and whipped cream for a lovely tang that complements the berries. If you don’t have any on hand, substitute the buttermilk in the cake with water or regular milk (or try half water, half lemon juice plus the zest of a lemon for a lemon-flavored chiffon). You can substitute sour cream or Greek yogurt for the buttermilk in the whipped cream, or just use more heavy cream.

Buttermilk Chiffon Cake with Berries and Buttermilk Whipped Cream

Makes one single-layer 8-inch cake

Ingredients:

Buttermilk chiffon cake:

  • 75 g cake flour
  • 90 g granulated sugar (preferably caster), divided
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 60 g buttermilk
  • 40 g neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar

For the buttermilk whipped cream:

  • 180g heavy cream, cold
  • 60g buttermilk, cold
  • 1-2 Tbsp granulated sugar (optional)

To assemble:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups (250-300 g) fresh berries, rinsed and cut if large
  • 1-2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Method:

For the buttermilk chiffon cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the lower third. Line an 8-inch (20-cm)-round cake pan with parchment and lightly grease the parchment, but otherwise do not grease the pan. (I like to use a pan with 3-inch sides as this helps the cake top stay nice and flat, but one with 2-inch sides should work as well.)
  2. Sift together the cake flour, 65 grams sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large, wide bowl. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks to the well, and whisk until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium, and whisk until soft peaks. With the mixer still on medium, slowly add the remaining 25 grams caster sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until you have glossy, firm peaks.
  4. Using a flexible spatula or whisk, carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk batter one third at a time. Mix just until the batter is homogeneous and no white streaks remain.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Give the pan a couple raps on the counter to dislodge any big air bubbles.
  6. Bake until the cake is puffed and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Once cooled, run a thin spatula around the edge of the cake to loosen, then carefully turn out of the pan and remove the parchment. Use immediately, or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

For the buttermilk whipped cream:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk to medium peaks. Use immediately.

To assemble:

  1. Mix together the berries and sugar and allow to macerate for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the cake on a serving platter. Dollop on the whipped cream and use a spoon or offset spatula to spread over the top. Top with macerated berries (leave the juices behind). Serve immediately.
buttermilk chiffon cake top down

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