Mother had her specialties: a menu of a handful of sweets and savouries she’d only do for company. She made a baba au rhum that took a full day of drenching in rum so it soaked it all up. She’d make it when her friends Max and Nancy were over for dinner— he swooned over the booziness of it and Mother swooned over Max’s attention and compliments. I watched all of this with fascination, especially the final few splashes of warm rum she’d pour over the cake while she was getting dressed for the party. Standing at the dark-brown stove in pantyhose with a few curlers still bobbling on her head, she’d dip her measuring cup into the pot of rum and melted apricot jam and pour it over the sponge-like baba that seemed to have an endless capacity for more rum.
This throat-burning, yeasty, not-nearly-sweet-enough cake was a cruel trick to play on a kid. But this cake—her magnificent pale chocolate chiffon cake slathered in deep drifts of soft-beige whipped cream—met all of my expectations and more. Most astonishing was the depth of whipped cream, and the way she filled the centre cavity, top to bottom, with even more whipped cream—I’d never seen such decadence, such abandon, such a girly, froufrou confection. I’ve made it more summery, with a healthy slathering of raspberry whipped cream, a smear of extra jam and a nice pile of fresh berries.
Raspberry Whipped Cream
3 cups (710 mL) 35 percent cream
2 Tbsp (30 mL) super-fine (berry) sugar
²⁄³ cup (160 mL) homemade raspberry jam
(or excellent-quality store-bought),
plus extra for garnishing
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
Pinch fine sea salt
½ cup (120 mL) fresh raspberries, for garnishing
½ cup (120 mL) loosely packed pure cocoa (I like
½ cup (120 mL) boiling water
½ cup (120 mL) neutral vegetable oil
½ cup (120 mL) buttermilk
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
6 egg yolks, at room temperature
1¾ cups (415 mL) sifted cake flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) fine sea salt
1¼ cups (300 mL) packed brown sugar
7 egg whites, at room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
½ cup (120 mL) sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325F (160C) and adjust the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven.
2. Add all of the raspberry whipped cream ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and start beating on low, gradually increasing the speed to medium high.
Whip until soft peaks form. Cover and set aside in the fridge until ready to ice the cake.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with
the boiling water until perfectly smooth. Add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla to the cocoa liquid and whisk to combine. Whisk in the gg yolks.
4. Into a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the brown sugar and stir, crushing any lumps. Add the chocolate liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir just to combine. Do not over-work or the batter will be tough.
5. Wipe out a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with a drop of lemon juice or vinegar. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites, increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whisk until soft-peak stage. Reduce speed to medium and gradually add the sugar, then increase speed back up to high to firm, glossy peaks.
6. Add about a third of the whipped egg whites to the chocolate batter and gently fold to incorporate. Add the remaining egg whites and very gently fold in to evenly incorporate.
7. Pour the batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 55 minutes. The cake should bounce back when touched and a skewer inserted near the centre should come out clean.
8. Transfer baked cake to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing from pan. When
cool, run a knife around the edges, then invert directly onto serving plate; you don’t want to handle it too much.
9. Now, some folks like to slice this tall cake into layers and spread the whipped cream between all the layers, but I leave it whole and fill the centre hole with cream. First drop the raspberry whipped cream into the middle,
one spoonful at a time. Then use a spatula to spread the rest of the cold whipped cream all over the top and sides.
10. Use the back of a spoon to spread a little more raspberry jam over the top of the cake, then pile up with fresh berries. Serve immediately or pop into the fridge to set; the whipped cream will soon slide and fall at room temperature.
Now for the cocktail! For my Raspberry-Rose Gin Flip recipe, click here.
From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for LCBO’s Food & Drink, Manna Pro Hearty Homestead, The Harvest Commission, and Today’s Parent; she published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015.