How to make a Chantilly Cake

Chantilly cake is a refreshing dessert adorned with lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream and seasonal fruit. My cake has three layers of fluffy vanilla almond cake sandwiching fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. The cake is finished with a thick coat of whipped cream and topped with more berries.

What is a Chantilly Cake?

“Chantilly” in this cake’s name refers to the frosting inside and around the cake.

Whipped cream frosting is sometimes referred to as “Chantilly cream,” which came from the Hameau de Chantilly (English translation: “hamlet of Chantilly” or settlement within the town of Chantilly). This was thought to originate around the 1800s.

The difference between Chantilly cream and sweetened whipped cream is confusing; bakers use the names interchangeably. Some sources state that Chantilly cream contains vanilla flavoring, and others claim the whipped cream just has to be sweetened.

So to keep consistent with the name of this cake, I’ll always refer to the whipped cream in this cake as Chantilly cream.

As for the cake layers within a Chantilly cake, they’re typically spongy, fluffy, and either vanilla or vanilla-almond flavored. Many versions of this cake, including mine, use fresh fruit between the layers and on top of the cake.

In Hawaii, there is a fantastic Chantilly cake resembling a German chocolate cake. It’s a chocolate sponge cake with a buttery-milky frosting. My recipe below is the version I described above that uses vanilla cake and whipped cream frosting.

Does this taste like the Whole Foods Berry Chantilly Cake?

The first time I’d tried this cake was the Berry Chantilly from Whole Foods. My husband brought a slice home from a work party, and I was pregnant at the time, but even if I weren’t, it was probably the best cake I’d had in a very long time.

“Berry Chantilly” is a trademarked name owned by Whole Foods Market. I was curious, so of course, I went digging.

If you go to the trademark database, click on “Basic Word Mark Search,” and type in “Berry Chantilly,” you’ll see that the name is currently owned by Whole Foods Market. They are owned by Amazon Technologies, so yes, you’re eating a giant tech company’s cake.

It’s an interesting business move by Whole Foods because no other bakery can legally call their cake a “Berry Chantilly.” That may be the first time I’ve ever seen a cake name trademarked, but hey, if I invented a cake that tasted this spectacular, I may have done the same thing.

So blame pregnancy hormones or the fact that it tastes incredible, but yeah, my version of this cake is inspired by the Berry Chantilly Cake from Whole Foods.

Do you need to stabilize whipped cream for a Chantilly cake?

I always stabilize my whipped cream in some way when I make large layer cakes. This makes it easier to frost with, less likely to weep (leak water), and hold its shape over time.

The Chantilly cream is holding up cake layers. You’ll get a little bit of support from the berries, but you don’t want the whipped cream squeezing out the sides when you place that final cake layer on top.

There are several different ways to stabilize whipped cream, including gelatin, mascarpone, and cornstarch, to name a few. Whole Foods Market uses both mascarpone and cream cheese to stabilize theirs.

I have a whole post comparing different stabilizers for whipped cream for you to choose from, but I prefer full-fat Greek yogurt for this recipe. It stabilizes by adding body, adds a tangy flavor to the frosting, and doesn’t require any complicated steps. Just add yogurt with the heavy cream and whip up!

What ingredients go into a Chantilly Cake?

So there are three parts to this cake: the vanilla almond cake layers, sugared fresh berries, and the Chantilly cream.

For my vanilla almond cake, you’ll need these ingredients:

Egg whites provide the structure for the cake. Did you know one of the main reasons cakes are yellow is because of egg yolks? Since we’re not using any in the cake, it will bake creamy white. You can save your yolks for some pastry cream or lemon curd :)

Milk provides moisture for the cake. You can use any fat level of milk; they will all produce a super moist cake.

Vanilla and almond extract are the flavoring components for this cake. Almond extract is super potent, so be sure to measure it carefully. If you prefer to leave it out, replace it with more vanilla extract, and you’ll have a super vanilla-ey cake instead.

Cake flour is milled very fine and uses a particular type of wheat with a lower protein content than all-purpose or bread flour. In the US, common brands for home bakers are Softasilk (bleached), Swan’s Down (bleached), and King Arthur’s Cake Flour (unbleached). All work great.

If you cannot find cake flour, you can use all-purpose flour. The cake will have a coarser crumb, but it will still be incredibly delicious and worth baking.

You can substitute removing a tablespoon of all-purpose flour (for every cup) and replacing it with a tablespoon of cornstarch. This works to some extent, and I will cover that in a blog post in the future.

White granulated sugar adds the taste of sweetness to this cake. Sugar also adds moisture! I know it sounds strange because most of the time, we’re working with it in solid form - little crystals, right? But sugar melts quickly into a syrup, adding moisture to a cake.

Baking powder provides lift to the cake and contains both an acid and a base. Have you ever done those volcano experiments where you add vinegar to baking soda, and it produces fizzy bubbles? That’s very similar to what’s happening inside our cakes containing baking powder when we put them in the oven.

Kosher salt adds the salty taste to cakes and enhances the flavor. I always use Diamond Crystal kosher salt for my baking.

Unsalted butter is the primary source of fat in our cakes, and fat ensures a moist cake and prevents it from drying out. I use unsalted (sometimes referred to as “sweet”) butter because it gives us complete control over the salt content in our baked goods.

In this recipe, we want to ensure the butter is softened due to the reverse creaming method. It needs to blend pretty thoroughly into the flour, and if the butter is too firm, it won’t correctly coat the flour.

Canola oil is another fat that adds moisture to a cake. Why add both butter AND oil? Butter is a different type of fat in that it contains water and remains solid-ish at room temperature.

Oil remains liquid, even down to freezing temps sometimes. The state in which the fat resides during room temp or the temp that we eat our cake will affect the texture.

For the Chantilly cream and fruit, you’ll need:

Heavy cream is high in fat and whips up with more volume. Look for one that contains 36% or more fat. In the US, these are usually labeled as “Heavy Whipping Cream.” Whipping cream will also work as it has less fat (between 30-36%) but will give you a less fluffy and stable cream. Fat is crucial in whipped creams because they are the components that surround and support the air bubbles giving us that light and airy texture we’re looking for.

Greek yogurt is strained, giving it a higher protein content and thicker texture than non-strained types. This stabilizer for the whipped cream works by adding body to the liquid portion of the cream. It also adds a small amount of fat, which helps, as I talked about earlier. This adds a tang to the finished cream (coming from the lactic acid in the yogurt) that I absolutely love.

Powdered sugar is the sweetener for this whipped cream. If you have super clumpy powdered sugar, go ahead and sift it. Usually, I don’t sift mine as we’re not using it very much as it dissolves pretty quickly in the whipped cream.

Vanilla is the flavoring for the whipped cream and adds that floral aroma on top of the dairy flavors coming from the cream. You can use vanilla seeds, paste, or extract for Chantilly cream.

Assorted fresh berries, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, add freshness to this Chantilly cake. I love using berries in cakes because tartness, or acidity, helps offset overly sweet desserts. It adds complexity to your cake. I macerate (or marinate) the berries that I use in the middle of the cake in sugar. Sugar is highly hygroscopic (meaning it yanks water out from mostly everything) and will pull the water out from the berries. The sugar then dissolves in that water creating a sweet berry flavored syrup that is delicious on the cake.

Does Chantilly cake need to be refrigerated?

My Chantilly cake is made with whipped cream (a dairy product) and fresh berries. Both of those items require refrigeration per the FDA within 2 hours. If the room temperature exceeds 90°F/32°C, it’s a good idea to chill the cake within an hour.

If you plan on keeping your cakes out for longer, consider forgoing fresh berries with a cooked fruit filling like jam or compote. I have a good strawberry puree recipe here.

Instead of freshly whipped cream, you can use non-dairy cream frostings like Pastry Pride or Bettercreme. They have more of a Cool-Whip taste to them. (For the non-US bakers, Cool-whip is a non-dairy topping that comes in a tub, and we use it to top desserts.) You either love or hate the taste of these products. It doesn’t taste exactly like whipped cream, but I like it. When you have no other options, it’s a pretty good safe substitute for whipped cream.

How long can you store a whipped cream cake?

I like to serve my whipped cream cakes (including this Chantilly cake) within 24 hours of making it. The cake will be fine during that time as long as it's kept chilled. The only issue is that whipped cream takes in fridge odors pretty easily, so just make sure it's not sitting to any exposed onions in the fridge. Sometimes I'll place a bowl of baking soda next to the cake to keep everything fresh smelling.

My timeline for making this cake usually goes like this. I'll make the cake either the morning of the night I need it or even the day before. After I fully assemble the cake, I'll keep it in the fridge until about 30 minutes prior to serving. After that time, I'll remove it from the fridge and onto a pretty cake stand so it's slightly chilled but fresh tasting for serving.

If you have leftover cake and want to store it, you can do this for about 3 days. After that, the berries and whipped cream break down and the cake gets soggy. Usually what I do since I've already served the cake is that I'll cut in into large chunks that fit into storage containers. That just keeps it fresher for longer in the fridge.

Step-by-Step

How to make my Chantilly cake

Ok, making this cake is divided into three parts:

  1. baking the cake;
  2. whipping the cream; and
  3. assembling the final cake.

As for the timeline, you can do everything all in one day, and I can probably whip this entire cake up in 2 hours.

If you want to split things up, the best thing to do is bake the cake layers ahead of time like this:

  1. Bake the cakes.
  2. When they’re cool, remove them from the pan and wrap them in plastic.
  3. Allow them to sit on the counter like that for up to one day. You can also freeze cake layers for weeks-long storage. (Don't be afraid of freezing cake layers. I explain why in this video here.)

When you make whipped cream, it's better to make it right before use. So I have my berries cut and ready to go, my cakes leveled, and my cake decorating tools out. Then I make the cream, assemble the cake, and place it in the fridge.

Ok, let’s go through it step-by-step.

Step 1. Make egg mixture and set aside

This cake uses the reverse creaming method to create a super plush cake. First, into a measuring cup add the egg whites, some of the milk, and extracts and set that aside.

Step 2. Mix dry ingredients with fats

Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt and mix until combined. Then take the fats (softened butter and oil) and mix it for about 30 seconds.

It will look like pie dough crumbs.

Step 3. Add milk and mix for 2 mins.

Add milk and mix for 2 minutes. This adds a bit of aeration to the batter while adding a bit of moisture from the milk.

The batter will be super thick like this.

Step 4. Add the egg mixture in three parts.

Grab the egg mixture you set aside and pour into the batter in three parts, scraping with a spatula between every addition.

You will get a smooth and slightly fluffy cream colored batter.

Step 5. Pour into pans and bake

Pour into three 8 inch pans and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 35-40. (You can bake them one by one if you only have one pan.) A skewer should come out clean when they are done baking. (Don't mind the darker cake in the photo - I was doing some testing on cake strips and timing but your cakes should look like the paler ones I'm showing.)

Step 6. Trim cake tops, wrap, and set aside

I like to wrap my cakes if I'm not using them within an hour. If you are, you can just leave them to cool on a wire rack while you prepare the other ingredients.

Step 7. Wash, chop, and macerate fruit

Wash the berries, slice, and macerate (marinate in sugar) and let it sit for at least 15 mins.

It's good to have all the berries the same size, so I chop just the strawberries.

Step 8. Make Chantilly cream

Add heavy cream and yogurt to a cold bowl.

Whisk on medium until thickened, then add powdered sugar.

Whisk on medium using the mixer until it reaches soft peaks, then remove the bowl and whisk by hand until you like the texture.

Perfect!

Step 9. Add the first layer of cake, berries, and cream

Add a schmear of whipped cream, the first layer of cake, then the berries.

Make sure they're evenly distributed.

Add more frosting to cement the berries in.

Step 10. Repeat and finish with the top layer

Second layer goes on, then repeat another berries and cream filling.

Last layer goes on top. Make sure everything is even.

Step 11. Frost a thin crumb coat

Go all around the cake with thin layer of frosting. Place the cake in the fridge along with the bowl of whipped cream for about 20 minutes to chill.

Step 12. Frost a thicker top coat

Spread a thicker top coat all along the outside of the cake.

I use a cake scraper to smooth it out, but you can leave natural swirls of this frosting along the sides too.

Step 13. Pipe if you like, and add fresh fruit on top

I piped a border of stars along the top perimeter.

Last, I arranged some fresh fruit along the top.

Alright, ready to try my Chantilly Cake recipe?

As with all my recipes, please try to bake using the ingredient weights (in grams). All my recipes are created by weight, and my Cakeculator converts to volume, but these are close estimates. You’ll still get a decent recipe out of it, but you will want to go by weights as I do for the exact recipe.

Also, if you need another pan size or want to make cupcakes with this recipe, I have The Cakeculator, which will do all the conversions for you. Check it out here.

Here’s a video I made assembling my Chantilly Cake, so check it out if you want a visual of the process.

Hi! I'm Adriana.

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