This past weekend, a friend of ours requested a strawberry shortcake for his granddaughter. I hadn’t done one in quite a while, and as a result I spent basically every moment I made the thing drooling and weeping about the lack of strawberry shortcake in my life. So, once the cake was delivered, I asked my husband if I should bake a second one just for us. I may be paraphrasing, but the gist of his response was this:
Like Tom Haverford, I did not need to be told twice.
4 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup (140g) sifted cake flour
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (95ml) water
1/4 cup (60ml) canola oil
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups (360ml) heavy whipping cream
1/3-1/2 cup (35-50g) powdered sugar (depending on taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons (6g) gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 lb. (450g) fresh strawberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees Farenheit and line a 6″ square or 8″ round cake pan with parchment around both the sides and bottom. You can use shortening or butter to make the parchment stick, but do not grease the parchment.
2. Combine egg yolks, canola oil, water, vanilla, and lemon zest in a large bowl, whisking until foamy and well-beaten. In a separate bowl, sift together the sugar, salt, baking powder and cake flour. Fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture until just combined.
3. Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Fold gently into the egg yolk mixture. Pour into cake pan and knock pan sharply on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake onto a piece of parchment and allow to cool upside-down. Once completely cool, remove the parchment.
4. In a small bowl, mix the gelatin and cold water and allow to sit for five minutes. In the meantime, whip cream with sugar in a large mixing bowl until the mix reaches soft peaks. Gently warm the gelatin (either over a double boiler or by microwaving for 5-second intervals until just melted). Pour in the gelatin while whipping the cream on medium speed, and finish whipping cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.
5. Level the top of the cake using a large serrated knife (a turntable is a big help here!). Then split the cake into two even layers.
6. Cut the leaves from your strawberries. Set aside 4 large strawberries and one medium berry for the top. Sort the remaining berries by size, and cut some of similar size in half to line the outside (I used 8 medium-sized berries to line my 6″ square, but this may be different for you. Play jigsaw!). Keep the rest whole.
7. Place the top layer of your cake onto your cake board, and pipe a line of whipped cream about 3/4″ away from the edge. Arrange your berries around the line of whipped cream, aligning them as much as possible with the rim of the cake. You may have to trim the sides of the berries that meet at the corners.
8. Fill the inside of the whipped cream rim with berries, standing up the whole berries and arranging them evenly.
9. Pipe a bulb of whipped cream between each of the half-strawberries on the rim, and then fill in all the spaces between your middle berries. Try to make the whipped cream level with the outside berry rim.
10. Place the second layer of cake on top, bottom side facing upward. Arrange the four large garnish berries in the center and pipe a large bulb of whipped cream in the center. Place the medium berry you reserved on top of the bulb. Pipe whipped cream around the sides in your desired pattern. Garnish with more berries if desired, and dust generously with powdered sugar.
Yields: 6-10 servings depending on how you cut it. We got six, because we’re shameless hogs.
What’s it look like sliced? Why, a little something like this:
Go forth, readers. You know what to do.