The Fruit Basket Cake: Fresh fruit, an airy chiffon cake, and lightly sweetened whipped cream make a delicious dessert perfect for a special occasion.
At the Sunday Farmer’s Market there continues to be an abundance of wonderful berries available so I decided to show you how to make a fruit basket cake.
What? You’ve never heard of a fruit basket cake? Believe me, I had no idea what it was myself until I moved to Sacramento and worked at a bakery. But ask anyone from Sacramento or the surrounding areas what a fruit basket cake is and chances are you’ll get a resounding “OHMYGOD I LOVE THAT CAKE!”
Essentially it is a white/yellow cake filled with fresh fruit and iced in whipped cream. Simple, classic, and oh so delicious.
Many bakeries do it differently, using different fruits. It is a cake I’ve done more times than I can remember, but until I started working at the local bakeries, I never knew there was an actual name for it. The fruit basket cake is by far the most popular cake at any bakery I’ve worked at. At the bakeries where I’ve worked, it is usually filled with strawberries and bananas, but you can definitely substitute the fruit with whatever fruit you prefer. I’ve used blueberries, pineapple, kiwi, and mandarin oranges as well!
It’s probably the closest thing to a guilt-free cake you’re going to get. A client of mine even ordered this cake for a special breakfast treat once! – Cake for breakfast? I’m in!
And I’m going to show you how to make this fruit basket cake, just like they’re made at the bakery, with tips throughout the post to make it foolproof!
This version not only is filled with the classic combination of fresh strawberries and bananas, but sometimes I even cover the top with an arrangement of fruit (like in these pictures I took of a client’s cake. It was just too pretty not to share – FYI the cake with the fruit on top is a 6″, but this recipe makes an 8″ cake). I love the fact that this cake is not overly sweet. (Yay! No crazy sugar monsters after my munchkins eat it!)
No buttercream, no sweet fillings, just lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit and sometimes that’s just what you’re craving, especially in the summer months.
And as I type that, let me show you the sugar raining down… lol.. it’s really not that much compared to other cake recipes, I swear! This recipe is also versatile! The foundation begins with your favorite white/yellow cake recipe or even a cake mix if you prefer.
What I almost always use is my trusty chiffon cake, just like my lemon chiffon cake (except omit the lemon juice and zest and replace with 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to become a plain chiffon cake) just to let the fresh fruit really shine through.I love how the airy nature of the chiffon cake compliments the other components of the fruit basket cake.
If you’ve ever had a cake from an asian bakery before, the chiffon cake in this recipe is probably really similar, if not exactly like it.
It bakes at a lower temperature to minimize the dome on top. But it may still have a slight dome which needs to be trimmed, especially with a fruit basket cake.
Edited to add: Professional cake decorating tip: Always cut off the dome on top of a cake to make it flat, always. No exceptions. It makes all the difference, especially if you’re putting a filling in between the layers. We call this “leveling” the cake. =)
I never do more than 3 layers of cake and 2 layers of fruit because it can become unstable and you also get bulges on the sides from the weight of the fruit and the cake. I’ve done it with 4 cake layers before but it was just too unstable and difficult to cut.
Another trick to keep this cake stable is the way you layer the fruits. Place the heavier fruit on the bottom layer and the lighter/more slippery fruit on top.
Keep the fruit about a 1 inch away from the edge – when the next layer of cake is added, the fruit shifts/spreads and comes to about 1/2 inch from the edge of the cake. I will also press each cake layer firmly into the filling below. This also helps avoid those bulges that happen when a cake still needs to “settle”. The cake is filled and iced in stabilized whipped cream which is so delicious!
I like to stabilize my whipped heavy cream using Dream Whip or a whip aid (Dr. Oetker Whip It – Stabilizer for Whipping Cream – I buy this in bulk from Amazon, but either item should easily be found at grocery stores near the gelatin or at Cost Plus World Market).
Edited to add: Another option, if you would like to avoid dairy or want something that is a bit more stable, I recommend Pastry Pride (found at Smart & Final and Cash & Carry) instead of whipped cream. It tastes like cool whip and can be left at room temperature, though I’ve never had success using the cool whip/non-dairy whipped topping in the frozen section of the grocery store.
Edited on 2/17/15 to add: Here’s a recipe for stabilizing whipped cream that uses cream cheese. I’ve used this in a pinch when I didn’t have any powdered stabilizer around (just triple it to make enough whipped cream).
When icing the cake (I’m so sorry I didn’t get a picture of this! I really should make a cake icing video/tutorial!) I force whipped cream into the gaps between the layers of cake, covering and packing the fruit in without worrying about covering the cake at first pass. I then smooth my spatula around the cake to make a rough crumb coat around the sides of the cake. If any fruit is sticking out, I just poke it back in with my finger =) (very technical right?).
Then I just finish icing the cake: start at the top, then the sides (making sure the icing goes all the way to the top). Smooth sides with a bench scraper or other icing smoother tool, then the top using your icing spatula.
Or, if you like, you can go for a beautiful rustic look and just swirl the whipped cream on the top and the sides. It will look great either way =)
For the cake pictured, I used a #22 decorating tip for the bottom and top borders. Ladies and Gentlemen.. are you ready?
- Chiffon Cake Ingredients
- 1¼ cup cake flour
- ½ cup sugar + ¼ cup sugar (divided)
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- dash salt
- 4 eggs separated
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp cream of tartar
Whipped Cream Icing
- 3½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ tsp vanilla
- 2 packets Dr. Oetker Whip It - Whipped Cream Stabilizer or 1 envelope Dream Whip
Fruit Basket Cake Ingredients
- 3 layers plain chiffon cake (or your favorite white/yellow cake)
- Stabilized Whipped Cream
- Extra Strawberries, Kiwi and Berries for arrangement on top (optional).
- Apricot Jam (for glaze if fruit will be placed on top)
- You can substitute the fruit for whatever fruit you prefer. I do strongly suggest against any "slippery" fruits for the filling, like canned peaches.
- Bake the Chiffon Cake
- Preheat oven to 330 degrees fahrenheit.
- Line the bottom of 3 - 8" pans with parchment paper. Do NOT grease or flour pan.
- In large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, ½ cup sugar, and salt together to aerate and evenly distribute ingredients.
- Add egg yolks, oil, water, and vanilla to dry ingredients and mix with whisk by hand until smooth.
- In grease free metal or glass mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar and remaining ¼ cup sugar until soft peaks form.
- Gently fold ⅓ of the egg whites into batter, then the next ⅓, and finally the remaining egg whites just until no large white streaks can be seen.
- Divide between the 3 cake pans and bake 15-20 minutes or until cake springs back when touched by your finger or a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Place hot pans on wire rack and allow to cool in pan.
- Once cool, run a thin metal spatula or knife around edge of cake and invert onto cooling rack. Peel off parchment and allow to cool further. (At this point, I usually wrap them in plastic wrap and place in freezer for a little bit to make handling easier - even 30 minutes helps)
Make Stabilized Whipped Cream Icing
- When you're ready assemble the cake, prepare the whipped cream
- Place bowl and beaters in freezer to chill.
- Whip the chilled heavy cream with sugar and vanilla until thickened.
- Add stabilizer and continue to whip until the cream holds firm peaks.
Assemble the Cake
- Trim off any dome on top of cooled cakes using serrated knife. (This is very important for the stability of the cake!)
- Take the first layer of cake and spread whipped cream on layer and top with sliced bananas. spread a little whipped cream on top of bananas.
- Top with another layer of cake. Spread whipped cream on layer and top with sliced strawberries. Spread a little more whipped cream on top of strawberries.
- Top with final layer of cake, bottom of cake facing up. Ice with whipped cream.
- Optional: Arrange fresh fruit on top (except blueberries, raspberries, blackberries). Heat apricot jam and brush over fruit as glaze. Finish with small berries. I do not brush the smaller berries because sometimes they have a tendency to disintegrate after glazing if they won't be eaten right away.
- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve and use a serrated knife for cutting
And there you have it folks! Yes, it’s really that easy! Additional Tips:
- If you only have 2 cake pans, I would fill one up 3/4 of the way and the other pan 1/3 of the way. After baking, you’ll be left with 1 full height layer and 1 – 1/2 height layer. Torte (cut in half horizontally) the “full height” layer after it’s cooled, leaving you with 3 layers. (Gosh I hope that makes sense… least in my mind it does, but let me know if you need more clarification). Check the 1/2 size cake earlier than full baking time as it will bake faster.
- If you want more than 2 fruits in the filling, you can absolutely combine more than one fruit on each layer. For example, I have done kiwi and strawberries on one layer and (well drained) mandarin oranges and blueberries on another. I just try to avoid putting too much “wet fruit” on any one layer. (Don’t want them to slip apart).
- Put the border on the top edge if you’re planning on it before you arrange the fruit on top.
- Tips on arranging the fruit on top: Pick out the pretty strawberries slices when slicing the cake and set aside for the top, use the “not so pretty” slices for filling. Also keep a whole “pretty” strawberry and slice in half, leaving top greenery on. Begin by making a ring of strawberry slices, points out, slightly overlapping. Then make an inner ring of kiwi slices, slightly overlapping the strawberries and slightly overlapping each other (kind of like holding playing cards in your hand), then make another ring of well drained mandarin oranges. Place halved strawberry in center. Brush with hot apricot jam (apricot glaze) making sure to glaze any fruit surfaces that have been cut. Finish with blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
- If you don’t have that much fruit or plan on writing on the top. I recommend arranging the fruit in a cluster on the top left corner and writing on the center/right rather than trying to spread the fruit out sparsely around the perimeter. In my opinion, it looks more “abundant” that way.
This cake really is versatile and open to whatever interpretation you would like. It makes for a tall impressive cake (with or without the fruit on top) and is most definitely a crowd pleaser.
I would love some feedback as to any other cake tips and techniques you’d like me to see or bakery tricks you’ve always wondered about.