Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring Strawberry Shortcake in 5 Steps

This cake is great for the baker who wants to make something beautiful but isn't quite comfortable with frosting and an offset spatula. I love the open sides on fruit cakes - it's so enticing to see a colorful berry peeking out between layers of cake and cream.

#1 Bake a cake
Any yellow cake will do, but I often use a Hot Milk Sponge cake or the Kentucky Butter cake. Bake it in 8 or 9-inch rounds (if you only have one cake pan, just bake it in one pan, but you'll have to slice it in half, or thirds, crosswise. Just make sure the cake is good and cold - refrigerating overnite is optimal - before attempting to slice into layers.

#2 Make sugar syrup
This is how to guarantee a moist cake. Make a sugar syrup by boiling 3/4 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. Add liqueur/flavoring as you like. Using a pastry brush or squeeze bottle, soak cake layers with hot syrup.

#3 Slice and macerate strawberries
Buy at least 2 pint containers (those apx 5x7x3 boxes) of strawberries, remove the greens and slice. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with 2 T or so of sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes or so to macerate.

#4 Whip Cream
Whip a pint (more like 3 cups, to be on the safe side) of heavy cream with a spoonful of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

#5 Assemble the cake - but no more than 4 hours before serving
Set the bottom cake layer on a plate and soak with warm/hot sugar syrup.

Spoon a large dollop (about a cup) of whipped cream on the center of the bottom cake layer. Smooth out, close to the edges but with a 1-cm space of exposed cake. Top with an even layer of berries. Use a slotted spoon with the berries. You don't want them to put too much of the macerating liquid on the cream.

Top with next cake layer(s) and repeat.

Refrigerate until serving. And beware - this cake is a big mess to cut and serve. But it's scrumptious.

No comments: