Strawberry Shortcake

This is a strawberry post. Strawberries were used in the making of this dessert. Strawberries are a fruit. And they happen to be my favorite fruit. I say this with a sense of caution and fear. Caution because I know that once I write it as such, then it’s out there for everyone to read. Fear because once the words are written and submitted into the world of internet, there is no going back. I can not retract them. I can not just say “Oh nevermind. They no longer are my favorite fruit.” I say that strawberries are my favorite fruit with caution and fear because I, myself, am not one hundred percent sure if they are my favorite fruit. I mean, they are tasty and delicious, sure. They are red, fuzzy and have seeds all over them. What’s not to like? They are a summer fruit and grow during the summer months of April, May, June, July and so forth. Apparently April is a summer month now. Southern California weather seems to agree with me. I like this fruit because when I see them in grocery stores or in farmer’s markets, I know it’s summer. The beginning of summer. Summer is about to commence. When strawberries are fresh and in season they smell extraordinary. They give out an incredible aroma that brings me back to all sorts of happy memories. Summer days filled with heat and swimming pools. Summer days filled with me lying around eating nothing but strawberries. Summer days filled with strawberry fields forever. Those are not my words. They are lyrics to a song. A song by the Beatles. They too liked strawberries.

I decided to make a strawberry shortcake. A multi-layered bonanza of a cake. Tons of whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberries in between two layers of sponge cake, doused with – what should be – illegal amounts of rum simple syrup. A rum simple syrup because a regular, plain simple syrup would not have sufficed. Illegal because it tastes so good that the food police should send out warrants for anyone and everyone who consumes such a cake. They’d arrest people only to eat the cake themselves. The food police would not share said cake. Not even toss a crumb or two our way. No, they’d lick their plates clean. Bastards. We like cake too. Cake makes us happy. Especially a tall cake filled with strawberries, doused with rum simple syrup, and covered in sweet whipped cream. Everyone should eat cake. We should eat it everyday. I’m sure our doctor’s and dentist’s would love it if we did. Everyone should eat strawberry shortcake.

On the second thought, perhaps watermelon is my favorite fruit. This isn’t a watermelon post. Watermelons weren’t used in the making of this dessert. Watermelons, like strawberries, are also a summer fruit. They grow during the months of May, June, July and August. Watermelons are green on the outside and have juicy red insides. Watermelons have black seeds – No, wait – I take that back, most watermelons have black seeds inside. Some are seedless. I prefer seedless watermelon, because the prospect of accidentally swallowing a seed and having a watermelon grow inside my stomach, scares me. Why take that risk? Now I wish I had made a watermelon dessert instead of one made with strawberries. But that’s another post. Another time. For now enjoy this strawberry dessert. Made with strawberries. My favorite/maybe favorite fruit.

We start with the sponge cake.

I’d never made a sponge cake before this, and seeing as it was my first time, I was nervous. I prepared the batter, poured it into the pans, put them in the oven, crossed my fingers, said a little prayer and waited…

Waited.

Waited.

Turns out, I can make sponge cake. Who knew?

How did I start?

With eggs.

The first thing you want to do is separate the eggs between two bowls, placing the yolks in one mixing bowl and the egg whites in another.

 

You can separate the eggs by hand, the good ol’ fashioned way. The way your grandmother and mother did it. The way my mother and grandmother did it. By juggling the egg yolk between the two shell halves, letting the whites fall down until you’re left with only the yolk – Or you can just use a handy dandy egg separator like I use. Just crack, pour, walk away and let the work be done for you.

Magic.

Pour the sugar in with the egg yolks.

The next part is very crucial. You want to beat the yolks and sugar until light in color. Smooth and has thickened.

It will happen in three steps.

Stage 1: Chunky and dark in color.

Stage 2: Lumpy, somewhat thickened, and medium tone in color.

Stage 3: Smooth, extra thick and pale lemon colored. High volume.

At this stage it is time to add the water.

And vanilla extract.

So add them.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Turn on and mix again. Mix until everything is well incorporated.

Mix until it is smooth.

Add the flour.

Turn the mixer on low and allow it to slowly combine.

Be careful not to over mix the batter. You’ll know it’s ready when the it looks like this:

 

Next step is to whip the egg whites.

Remember the whites you separated from the yolks earlier? Well the last we heard of them, they were in another mixing bowl.

Grab that bowl, you’re going to need it.

You’re going to whisk it.

Start the mixer on low and begin to whip.

Turn up to medium speed.

Continue to whip the egg whites until they are frothy. Once that stage has been reached, turn off the mixer.

Add the cream of tarter, which helps stabilize the egg whites and allows them to form stiff peaks, and a bit of salt.

 

Turn the mixer back on medium.

Turn up to high and continue to whip until the egg whites are thick and glossy.

You’ll know they are ready when the whites form stiff peaks that stay when the beater is lifted up.

And just like magic, they’re transformed.

  

It is now time to mix together the egg yolk mixture with the whipped egg whites.

Grab a scoop full of the whipped whites and add it to the batter.

Working with a little bit at a time, you want to carefully fold the whites into the egg yolk batter.

Fold carefully, and do not over mix as that may cause the whites to deflate.

A folding maneuver looks like this:

  

  

Continue folding in the egg whites, in batches, until it is all incorporated.

Divide the cake batter between two 9-inch circle pans.

Do not grease or flour the pans. I know, you’re skeptical. I was too, because I was told that you never grease pans for a sponge cake.

So I went ahead, against my better judgement, and didn’t grease them.

And what do you know? It worked. I am a believer.

 

Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick, inserted in the middle, comes out clean.

Allow the sponge cake to cool in the pans.

In the meantime, you make the simple syrup.

It’s going to be a rum simple syrup.

No other kind.

You’ll need…

Rum.

Water.

And Sugar.

No, it isn’t the exact same image three times.

Look carefully.

Throw the water and sugar into a pot.

 

Allow the sugar to dissolve in the water and bring to a boil.

Throw in the Rum (Hmmmmmm..) and continue to cook for a couple minutes.

 

Once done, pour the syrup into a bowl or cup and allow to come to room temperature.

 

While the syrup is cooling down, invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and allow to continue cooling.

And now for the frosting. It’s a complex, 21 ingredient frosting.

Okay, not really. It’s just whipped cream.

Three ingredients.

Start with a clean mixing bowl and the whisk attachment.

You can definitely whip it by hand, but why would you want to put yourself through all that agony?

Pour in the very cold heavy cream.

Whip the cream until it is somewhat frothy and thick. (Not too thick)

At this stage, add the powdered sugar.

 

Add the vanilla extract.

Whip again.

Continue to whip the cream until it thickens and forms soft peaks.

Be careful not to over whip, as it could turn into butter easily. It should look like this:

Once done, reserve.

And prepare the strawberries.

Give them a good wash.

 

Remove the strawberry stems and slice them.

Reserve nine good looking berries for the top. Unsliced.

 

Okay, so you’re finally ready to start assembling this cake.

I use a disposable cake board, found at Michael’s, to put my cake on.

If you don’t have any of these wonderful boards, a plate or cake stand will do just fine.

I also have the board on a lazy susan type thingamajig, to help me turn the cake while I decorate.

Lay down one of the cake layers onto the board, plate or stand.

Brush on the cooled simple syrup, heavily, onto the layer of cake.

 

Now you might be asking yourself, “Why is this mad man soaking his cake in rum simple syrup?”

Well that’s just it! It’s Rum simple syrup! And because sponge cake, I feel, needs a little extra moisture and flavor at times.

This fits the bill.

Now, throw on a bit of the whipped cream. Smooth it out with an offset spatula.

That is an offset spatula.

  

Now, layer on the strawberry slices.

 

Continue placing the strawberries until the cream is completely covered. You could also just throw them on if you don’t have the patience to place each, one by one.

I would, but I’m presenting it nicely for you guys. All for you.

You’re welcome.

Cover the strawberries with another thin layer of cream.

 

Place the second layer of cake over the cream and berries.

Douse with another heaping amount of the rum simple syrup.

Cover the cake with the whipped cream.

Start with a heaping dollop on the top and work your way around it.

Continue to frost the cake, bringing down the cream to the sides and smoothing it all out.

 

Using the edge of your offset spatula, smooth out the entire cake.

Make it look professional and nice.

The cake needs a little pizazz…

A fresh bakery look to it.

Sliced almonds.

Yes, sliced almonds indeed.

Cover the sides of the cake with the sliced almonds by carefully picking it up over the tray of almonds and grabbing a handful. Press the nuts onto the sides; they’ll stick right to the cake.

 

Remember our reserved strawberries?

Take off the stems.

Put the remainder of the whipped cream into a piping bag, fitted with a star tip.

Make four rosettes of frosting at the edge of the cake.

North, East, South, West positions.

Make four more rosettes.

One in between each.

Finishing up with one in the center.

Just like this.

Place a strawberry on each rosette.

You could make the middle one even fancier by slicing and fanning it out.

 

And that’s it.

Your cake is done.

Finished.

Stare at it.

Admire it.

Feast your eyes.

You have to give it a try. Its the best cake out there.

Well, its the best cake for the summer. Light and filled with strawberries.

I know you might be reluctant to slice it and hand it out to people to share, I was.

I wanted to eat it all by myself. Alas I gave in, and shared.

I was nice, you don’t have to be.

Hide it all for yourself.

If you’ve just got back from a trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market with bushels of strawberries, put them to good use.

Make a strawberry shortcake. You know you want to. Enjoy!

 

Comments

  1. avatarmichelle lewis says

    This has to be the most beautiful creation of a cake I have ever seen. I love all the time and care you put into your recipes, and photography. I am so happy for you!

    • avatar says

      You can definitely leave out the rum. Or swap it out for vanilla extract or a vanilla bean if you’d like!

      And yes there is, for every 1/2 tsp of cream of tarter you could use 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice :)

  2. avatarmochimochi says

    soooooo goood , and sooo pretty XD. Wow. this is why i feel bad eating pretty strawberries by themselves, because you know they look much better on top of a cake like yours. And congrats for aceing that sponge first time !

  3. avatarwendycakes says

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this recipe via foodgawker! This cake is very similar to the Japanese Christmas Cake and it’s been a recipe I’ve been long trying to track down that’s not in metric units. ;)

    I’m a new follower and love your step-by-step recipes. Keep up the good work!

    • avatar says

      I’m glad you stumbled upon it as well! And as a matter of fact, the Japanese Christmas Cake was my inspiration. I’m glad that you can now give it a try.

      Let me know how it turns out. And thanks for following!

  4. avatar says

    I don’t have a favorite fruit myself. Strawberries, yeah, I love them but not my favorite. I love strawberry shortcake. Although whipped cream isn’t my utmost favorite but this is a gorgeous strawberry shortcake!

  5. avatarjea says

    Do you need to use the cake flour or can you use all-purpose? If I change it to all purpose, would the cake taste or texture be any different?? great cake by the way!

  6. avatarMaggie says

    I just made this for Mother’s Day- my mum, sister and boyfriend loved it. I personally thought it was the best cake I had ever made! Thanks for the recipe and the gorgeous photos. I do have a few questions though:

    - I didn’t grease the pan like you said, against my scepticism, and the layer got completely stuck to the springform pan, and cracked when I tried to open it. I had to cut around the edges with a knife, which worked, but I’m not sure where I went wrong.

    - My layers deflated :((((( took it out of the oven too fast?

    - I used a different frosting (white chocolate buttercream), simply because I’m not too big of a fan of whipped cream, and it turned out amazing but definitely a mess. Possibly because the layers weren’t even after deflation.

    BUT taste-wise it was amaaaazing. I put on the rum syrup the day before so it soaked through, which was delicious. Next time I’ll make shorter layers, and as my mum said, use more strawberries :) Thanks a lot!

    • avatar says

      Thank you for stopping by and for trying out the recipe!!! So glad you and your family liked it!! It is definitely one of the best cakes I’ve made as well.

      Some springform pans have a crevice and it’s easy for the cake to get stuck. I used the normal round cake pans. Try those next time.

      As for the layers deflating, did you open the oven door frequently? Any sudden movement, banging of the pan, or constant opening of the oven door could cause the deflation. I open it just once (half way through baking) to rotate the pan, and then when it’s done.

      That frosting sounds amazing!!! Please share the recipe! I’d love to try it!!

      Hope you try it again with my suggestions! It’s worth it!!

      • avatarMaggie says

        I’ll definitely be doing it again! I didn’t open the oven door at all during the baking process, and then left it slightly open to allow the cake to cool down, but it deflated anyway. I got the frosting recipe from the beantown baker blog, used less sugar, half white chocolate and half praline chocolate, and rum flavouring. Highly recommended :) (http://www.beantownbaker.com/p/recipage.html?recipe_id=6022288)

        I’m going to have to think of an occasion where I have another excuse to make this cake with the changes! Thanks so much for your recipe, gorgeous pictures and very clear instructions.

  7. avatarChef Swag says

    I just got done making this cake an wow. This cake is truly amazing looking. I made two adjustments to it not that it needed them. But my first adjustment was i made it 3 layers instead of 2 an i left out the almonds. The almonds deffintly made the cake look amazing but unfourtantly im allergic to them. I made this cake for my dad for his birthday strawberry short cake is his favorite an for the past couple decades we have always gotten him strawberry shortcake from Herman’s bakery. This year i wanted sumthing special for him an what better way then to make it from scratch. I’ve been cooking for years an have always been to lazy to do it but im glad i went thru with. Awsome recipe cant wait to cut into tonite.I will let you no how he likes it an your deffintly rite i already dont wanna share it.

    • avatarChef Swag says

      Deffintly was the best strawberry shortcake i ever had. My dad absolutely loved it an like me he also didnt wanna share. Great recipe deffintly will be making it again but think I’m gonna try it with blueberries next but there will be many more strawberry short cakes to come. Thanks again

      • avatar says

        So glad your dad liked it! Thank you for trying it out and thanks so much for keeping me posted! I like your idea with blueberries, I’m definitely going to try it out next time with blueberries. Sounds delicious!!

  8. avatar says

    I JUST took them out of the oven and like Maggie’s, they deflated! Their edges are high but their centers just deflated…one of them more than the other. I didn’t open the oven, just to take them out. And they were both golden brown and toothpick came out clean at 30 minutes. I’m probably still going to go on with the cake as planned, but i wonder what I could have done wrong? Could it have been because when I poured in the batter, I kind of shook and rotated the pans to make sure the batter was evenly spread?

  9. avatarMarge says

    Thank you so much for this recipe – I can’t wait to try it, it will be the perfect birthday cake for my husband who is obsessed with strawberry shortcake. Also, thanks for the refreshing tone and sense of humor!

    I’ll let you know how the sponge cake challenge goes, but I’m pretty sure it will be fab. So glad I found your site!

  10. avatarJess says

    Hey I hope you read this like before tomorrow cos it’s my mums birthday tmro and I want to make her this beautfifil cake!!! But I wanted to ask what rum do u use and where can you get it? Powdered sugar like icing sugar? And lastly what flour can u use besides cake flour cos I can’t find cake flour anywhere? Sorry for all the questions :/ xxx thanks

    • avatar says

      Hey, thank you for writing! I don’t mind the questions at all. I used a brand called “Myers’s Rum” its in a brown bottle. You can usually find it at the grocery store or liquer. Here in California we have a store called BevMo which is an alcohol shop. I don’t know if there is anything like that by you. But any rum will do. Like Barcardi or Captain Morgan. Those work fine as well. Also, if you can’t find rum or don’t want to go through the hassle of looking for it, you don’t have to use it. When I first made this cake I always made the syrup without the rum, just vanilla, and it still tasted amazing. The rum was just a fun twist. Yea icing sugar would be the same thing as powdered sugar. Use all-purpose flour, that would work just as great. And no need to apologize! I hope this helps. Let me know if you have anymore questions. Also let me know how it turns out! :)

      • avatarJess says

        Ok thanks so much I just finished it it looks amazing!!!
        I’m giving it to my mum tomorrow so excited!!!
        You are so talented cos this cake is better than any cake I’ve seen anywhere! I want to show you a picture but idk how to put it up lol
        Continue cooking I’ll be watching ;) xx

  11. avatarSangdi says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it for a friend whom I’d been visiting (since she was kind enough to have me stay with her) and it turned out wonderfully! I wound up doing it entirely by hand though since she didn’t have an electric mixer, but I found the whipping parts not so difficult provided I did everything exactly as noted (an extra cold mixing bowl helped with the whipped cream). ^u^

    • avatar says

      You are very welcome! Thanks for trying out the recipe! I’m so glad you both enjoyed it!! Also happy the tips helped! Your friend is lucky to have you make her a cake!

  12. avatarKenbakes says

    Wow! Awesome photos and such clear steps in making that perfect shortcake. So glad I chanced upon your blog. May I know the type of lens you are using? I am using a 105mm for my blog posts.

  13. avatarIren says

    I love how you write and I love this recipe, especially the super refined, bakery-esque appeareance with the toasted almonds. :D

      • avatar says

        Thank you for your awesome comments! I look forward to hearing what you think of the recipes. You can definitely frost this cake the day before. Homemade whipped cream is stable and won’t liquify. Let me know how you like it!

  14. avatarJonathan Bailey says

    I’m so frustrated. You did not show me how to make the almonds stick. Did you pat them on with your palm? Did you place them one by one? Did you throw them at the cake? How could you do this to me? You showed everything except how to get those almonds on there!

    • avatar says

      Forgive me for causing such frustration. You see, I hold the camera with one hand while performing the tasks, stirring and adding, with the other hand. And since adding the almonds to the cake is a two-hand task it was kind of impossible to take a picture of it. Not enough hands I’m afraid. I patted them with my palm, one hand, while I rotated the cake with the other. Hope that helps.

  15. avatarnicole says

    Hi thanks for the recipe! I baked it for my son’s birthday yesterday n he likes it a lot! But my concern is 9 inch is too large for our small family. Can you let me know how much of the ingredients I should have for a 8 inch strawberry shortcake?

    You did a very nice icing presentation. I can’t do the same as you even with a base that can rotate. How did you manage to do so well?

    • avatar says

      Thank you for trying out the recipe! I’m happy to hear that your son enjoyed it. I’ve never attempted to make an 8-inch before so I do not know the measurements. I’ll work on scaling it down and get back to you as soon as I do!

      I just used an offset spatula, and kept rotating the cake as I smoothed out the frosting. I don’t really have any fancy methods. Although, I do have to admit that I worked at a bakery for two years and frosting cakes is all I did for hours on end. Practice makes perfect.

  16. avatarNicole says

    I’ve shared my strawberry shortcake with my colleauges and they said it was very nice, not too sweet and not too creamy. One improvment needed is that the cake should be softer then it will be perfect. Can you let me know what have i done less/more that cause my cake not soft enough? Thanks!

    • avatar says

      Perhaps it was over mixed during the folding process. Chiffon cakes tend to become firmer as you continue to mix when folding in the egg whites. Brushing it with more of the simple syrup should soften it up or mixing less. Hope that helps!

  17. avatarNicole says

    Thanks for your reply. It helps! I also realized my strawberry cake became more moist and fluffy after 1 days of storing it in the fridge. It must be the Rum who did the magic. I still left a lot of the rum syrup and i stored them in the fridge since last Sunday. Can i know how long it can be stored?

  18. avatarbrownieboxblog says

    Thanks for the great recipe. I baked this cake for my sister’s birthday, and it was sooooo good!! I invited 15 over to my place and the cake was completely devoured in less than 15 minutes! I posted some images on my blog over here: http://tinyurl.com/d5ehj5e

    I’m looking forward to try more of your recipes :)

  19. avatar says

    Hi, I was wondering, can I use anything else other then Rum syrup? Or something similar to rum? I was thinking of using strawberry syrup, is it ok to use that?

    • avatar says

      You can use vanilla extract instead! The strawberry syrup will probably work if it’s thin enough. It will taint the color of the cake though. But I’m sure it’ll still taste yummy!

  20. avatarolga says

    I asked for this cake for my birthday and the texture of the cake was wonderful, my son and his girlfriend made it and followed your recipe exactly. Delicious

  21. avatarMel says

    Great recipe Jonathan but my two 9 inch cakes were ready at around 40-45 minutes @ 325 – 1 hour in the oven would have been way too long.

  22. avatarUsha says

    Hi cake looks yummy,going to try it..what is the shel life of the cake..can I refrigerate cake after frosting ..thanks in advance

  23. avatarmargot says

    I just made this but I don’t think I brushed on enough rum simple syrup. About how much would you use for each layer? I also added a layer of pastry cream in the middle, then the strawberries and whipped cream. It turned out to be a nice addition. Thanks. I even went out to find a red cake stand. Love the photos. Thanks for a great recipe.

  24. avatarmkane says

    Thank you! I love this recipe and have made it three times now. The photos are brilliant, too. Unfortunately my cake doesn’t look as lovely as yours does, but it tastes absolutely amazing. It’s my favorite recipe and it’s not that difficult! Do you have any suggestions for how to modify the recipe for high altitude baking? (We live at ~7,000 feet.)

  25. avatarDiane Siniscalchi says

    Will the whipped cream stay fluffy overnight in the fridge or do you have to use a stablizer? I get so nervous with whipped cream, because I’m afraid it will fall.

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