Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry shortcakeThe traditional strawberry shortcake is an American invention: the pastry is quickly mixed from butter, flour, baking powder, eggs and a liquid, then roughly dropped onto a baking sheet in individual serving sizes and cooked. The craggy result, to be cut in half and topped with fruit, is a little like a cake, a little like a scone, a little like a cookie. It is also a little extinct. Much more common now—and for the past several decades—is a large strawberry shortcake (serving a lot of people) made with regular cake, something like a sponge cake, or an angel food cake in texture. It is usually constructed by placing a layer of strawberry and whipped cream between two stacked cakes, then covering the creation with more strawberries and whipped cream. It is delightfully simple and straightforward…and best if eaten the same day. Here’s a great version of the modern strawberry shortcake.

makes one 8″ cake, enough for 8 servings

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 lb. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing cake pans
4 large eggs
2 cups cake flour, plus a little extra for dusting cake pans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream for whipping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix strawberries with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Set aside.

3. Using the extra butter, lightly butter two 8″ cake pans. Dust lightly with extra flour and set pans aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, on medium-high speed using the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar with the 1/4 lb. of butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next egg.

5. Sift the 2 cups of cake flour with baking powder and salt.

6. Mix together milk and vanilla extract.

7. On low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture to batter. When combined, add 1/2 the milk mixture. When combined, add 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture. When combined, add the remaining milk mixture. When combined, add the remaining flour mixture. Combine.

8. Divide cake mixture evenly between cake pans, spreading tops evenly with a spatula.

9. Place in oven, and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Cool cakes in their pans on a rack.

10. Just before serving, drain strawberries, reserving syrup. Whip cream until it forms soft peaks. Place one cake on a serving plate, and brush with 2 tablespoons of the strawberry syrup. Spread with 1 1/2 cups whipped cream. Arrange 2/3 of the strawberries over the cream. Place the second cake over the strawberries, and brush the top with 2 tablespoons strawberry syrup. Cover with remaining whipped cream. Arrange the remaining 1/3 of the strawberries over the top and serve.