My dad turned 50 this year, which is funny, because he sometimes acts like he’s 15. He is a total man-child, but not in the sense that he’s immature and gross and needy, but rather because he is adorable like an actual child even though he is really a grown man. He giggles – actually giggles like a 5-year-old – a lot and it’s one of my favorite things about him. 

Given that it was the big 5-0, I wanted to make an extra special cake, but my dad, though he has a sweet tooth, isn’t crazy about super sweet cakes. I instantly thought of childhood trips to China and the amazingly light and barely sweet birthday cakes that they sell in bakeries over there. Cue Google, and this cake was born. It’s not exactly the same as the cakes I had in the homeland, but it’s similar and taste enough in its own right to warrant a spot on my list of favorites.

Birthday Cake

A delicious trio: fresh fruit, whipped cream, and cake

Chiffon Cake with Fresh Fruit and Whipped Cream

Adapted from The 350 Degree Oven

  • Fresh strawberries, kiwis, and blackberries or garnish (or whatever fruit you prefer)
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup cake flour (1 tbsp corn starch plus enough all-purpose flour to equal 1 cup)
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 18 T. sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4. tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, being very careful not to let any egg yolk contaminate the egg whites.  You cannot half-ass this step – if you get any egg yolk in the whites, start over and make omelettes from the messed up batch.
  2. Add 6 T. sugar, the salt, and the vanilla extract to the egg yolks and beat the mixture until it is pale yellow in color.
  3. Add the water and oil to the egg yolk mixture, and continue to beat together.
  4. Sift the cake flour with the baking powder over the egg yolk mixture, and stir in until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.
  5. Clean the metal beater attachments with soap and warm water to remove all traces of oil or fat.  Add the cream of tartar and 6 T. sugar to the egg whites.  Beat the egg whites until stiff.
  6. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into egg yolk batter to lighten it.  Fold in the second 1/3 of egg whites, then fold in the remaining 1/3. Don’t worry about fully incorporating the mixture. It’s okay if there are streaks of egg whites left – the key is to make sure you don’t over-mix and deflate the egg foam.
  7. Pour the batter into an ungreased 9″ pan. For the love of all things sweet, do NOT grease or line the pan. The cake needs to stick to the pan so it can climb up the sides and rise in height.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes. You might be tempted, but it’s better to leave the door shut the entire time so nothing can disturb the cake and cause it to deflate.
  9. When done, immediately remove the cake from the oven, and invert the cake pan onto a metal rack to cool completely.  Allowing the cake to cool upside down to prevent the cake from collapsing on itself. If your cake has risen over the sides of the pan, balance the pan on two cups or anything else that will keep it upside down. Improvise as necessary!
  10. Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream with the remaining 6 T. of sugar. Cup up your fruit and set aside.
  11. When the cake is completely cooled, gently run a knife or small offset spatula along the sides of the pan and remove it carefully. Slice the cake in half depending on how high your cake is.
  12. Arrange half of the fruit on the bottom half of the cake and cover with cream. Place the top half of the cake over it. Cover with cream and arrange the remaining fruit on top.

This cake is quite a bit of work, but so worth it. The result is this dreamy, airy cake. It’s slightly more dense than an angel food cake because there are still egg yolks, but it’s got a nice custardy, creamy taste from the yolks that keeps it from being too light and delicate. Paired with fresh fruit, this is really a perfect summertime cake.

Birthday Cake

Good enough to eat on its own

Inside Layer

The inside layer – just because no one’s going to see it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look beautiful

Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday Dad!

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