Strawberry Tall Cake is amazingly delicious and completely gorgeous. Wait, what? Strawberry “tall” cake? Yup! You see, a true strawberry “shortcake” is more like a biscuit than a cake. What many folks call “Strawberry Shortcake” is a vanilla sponge cake layered with fresh strawberries and cream. The spongy cake absorbs lots of strawberry juice and it bakes up nice and “tall”.
So, want to know the secret ingredient that makes this cake extra delicious? Well, if you’ve read this blog before you might suspect that it involves a little alcohol.
Most strawberry shortcake recipes instruct you to toss the berries with a little sugar before assembling the cake. That’s a great idea.
Sugar not only draws out the juices from the berries, making a delicious syrup, the berries take in some of the sugar. What you end up with is a lovely mixture of softened and slightly sweetened berries with strawberry syrup that soaks into the cake.
I add a wee drop of Grand Marnier to the strawberries and sugar. The Grand Marnier adds a little more sugar and another layer of flavor that enhances, but doesn’t overpower, the strawberry flavor.
Once again I’m going to remind you that alcohol enhances other flavors in a dish in a very particular way. You can read more about the science behind why this is true in this post.
If you don’t do alcohol, use a splash of orange juice. It won’t be exactly the same, but the juice will spark the flavor of the berries.
Now, lets talk about the cake component of this lovely dessert.
The base for my Strawberry Tall Cake is a chiffon cake. I think “chiffon” is a great word. Not only is it a pretty sounding word, it also conjures up images of softness, airiness and luxury, like the namesake fabric.
Those are all lovely traits for a cake, no? Who doesn’t want a cake that is soft, airy and luxurious?
What makes chiffon cake unique is the fact that it’s sort-of a cross between a rich buttery cake and an airy sponge cake. It’s got the best of both worlds.
The cake is made with oil and water in the batter, which help create the soft crumb in the cake. The lightness comes from first whipping up the yolks with the other ingredients and then folding in whipped egg whites.
You could eat this cake as soon as it’s assembled, but at least an hour in the fridge will give the juice some time to soak into the cake.
I like to let the cake stay at least 5-6 hours in the refrigerator before serving. If you’re serving this cake after dinner it can be assembled either early in the day or even the night before. Just keep the sides of the cake well-wrapped to prevent it from drying out.
Watch the recipe video to see how to make Strawberry Tall Cake.
For the Cake
- ½ cup (3.5 oz, 105g) vegetable oil
- 6 eggs, separated
- ¾ cup (6 oz, 175 ml) water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 ¼ cups (10 oz, 285 g) cake flour
- 1 ½ cups (12 oz, 340g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ pounds ripe strawberries
- ¾ cup (6 oz, 170g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1-2 tablespoons Grand Marnier liquor or orange juice
- 2 cups (16 oz, 473 ml) heavy Cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Line two 8” cake pans with parchment paper or butter and flour the bottom of the pans only.
- Combine the oil, yolks, water and vanilla in a mixer bowl. Mix on medium speed until well combined.
- Sift the flour with 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to yolk mixture. Whip on high speed for 1 minute, then set aside
- Whip the egg whites on medium high speed until light and foamy, gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and whip to full peak. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture in three increments.
- Divide the batter between the two pans and bake until the middle of the cake springs back with lightly pressed, 30-35 minutes.
- Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Cool to room temperature before filling. (The cakes can be baked a day ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.)
Assemble the Cake
- Reserve 6 good looking berries of equal size. Stem and slice the remaining berries and place them in a large bowl, toss in ½ cup of the granulated sugar and the Grand Marnier or orange juice. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, 60 minutes is even better.
- Whip the cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla. Use a serrated knife to slice the top from each cake to make it level. Cut each cake in half horizontally so you have a total of 4 layers of cake.
- Place one layer on a serving platter and spoon 1/3 of the sliced strawberries and some juice onto the layer. Spread the berries out so they’re level. Spread 1/4 of the cream over the berries, pushing the cream down in between the berries. Repeat with the next two layers. Reserve some of the strawberry juice for the top layer. Drizzle the remaining juice over the last layer. Frost the top of the cake with the remaining cream. You can reserve a ½ cup for decorating if you have a piping bag. Fit the bag with a star tip, pipe 12 rosettes around the top of the cake.
- Slice the reserved berries in ½ and place a berry half, seed side up, on each rosette. If you don’t have a piping bag just place the berries around the top of the cake decoratively. Wrap the sides of the cake so it doesn’t dry out and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving to allow the juices to absorb into the cake. I like the cake best after 5-6 hours in the refrigerator.
You could eat this cake as soon as it's assembled, but at least an hour in the fridge will give the juice some time to soak into the cake.
I like to let the cake stay at least 5-6 hours in the refrigerator before serving. If you're serving this cake after dinner it can be assembled either early in the day or even the night before. Just keep the sides of the cake well-wrapped to prevent it from drying out.
You might also like: