Strawberry basil chiffon cake with strawberry basil sauce

Chiffon cake makes for a lovely and airy spring treat.

The Runaway Spoon
Strawberry chiffon cake with strawberry basil sauce.

Chiffon Cake always sounds so delightfully old-fashioned to me. Maybe because chiffon just sounds like a frilly, girly, poufy tea-party dress. I always see chiffon cake recipes in older community cookbooks, in all sorts of flavor combinations.

I don’t think people make chiffon cakes much anymore, but the light, foamy sponge is a treat that shouldn’t be missed. Add some fresh in-season strawberries for a lovely light and and airy spring treat. I like to up the berry flavor with a sweet sauce and complement the whole with pillows of sweetened whipped cream.

Strawberries and basil work together beautifully, adding a lovely herbaceous note. And the fragrance is mouth-watering. The cake itself is such a pretty pink with little speckles of green, like a berry itself. This is a break-out the crystal cake plate dessert, colorful and bright on any spring table.

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cake with Strawberry Basil Sauce

2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Roughly 1 cup of hulled strawberries
7 egg yolks
7 Tablespoons vegetable oil
5 to 6 large basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a drop or two of red or pink food coloring (optional)
7 egg whites

For the sauce:
3 cups hulled, quartered strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 large basil leaves on the stem

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Sift the flour, 1-1/4 cups of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Drop the strawberries into a blender and puree. You will need 3/4 cups, so measure it out and add more berries if needed. Put the puree back into the blender and add the egg yolks, vegetable oil, basil leaves, vanilla, and food coloring, if using. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and stir to mix well, making sure there are no dry ingredients visible.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they become foamy. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter to loosen it up, then gently fold in the remaining whites in three additions. Make sure there are no streaks of white visible. Scrape the batter into a 10-inch angel food cake pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back at a light touch. Immediately invert the pan, centering the hole over the neck of a bottle, or over a rack if your pan has “feet” the raise it from the surface. Cool completely.

For the Sauce:

1. Put the quartered berries and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir. Pluck the basil leaves off the stem and tuck the stem into the berries. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Pick out the basil stem. Use an immersion blender to roughly puree the sauce – it’s nice to have a few pieces of berries in there, but do give it a whirl with the blender. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so to reduce the sauce slightly.

3. Take the pan of the heat. Finely chop the basil leaves and immediately stir them into the sauce. Leave to cool, then cover and refrigerate. The sauce can be made up to two days ahead.

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