Want to make a desert this festive season?
But you want it to be quick, simple, lacking any kind of technique?
And most importantly, need it to look rustically perfect?
Well, have I got all those criteria marked off, and more!
You see, my Strawberry Shortcake not only makes the best and most beautiful centrepiece to your table this festive season, but takes literally no time to make, uses fresh in-season luscious strawberries and is topped off with vanilla bean infused whipped cream. How do you not salivate?! And with christmas around the corner, the redness of the strawberries make the desert look even more festive and inviting!
I will admit, the idea of stacking a 3-layer desert can intimate anyone (including myself), and while I had played with 2-layer cakes in the past, this was my first time with a 3 layer variety! Sometimes I need to remind myself, that being self taught does have its shortcomings – one of which is stacking cakes to look neat and professional! That’s why I often choose more rustic looking methods to finish my deserts, it allows for a bit of lopsidedness and imperfections that highlight the characteristics of the ingredients. For instance, in this strawberry shortcake, I top the top most later with a thick pillow of whipped cream, with the best looking strawberries from the lot halved and piled like a mound. Anyone (including you) could do that!
I were asked to describe a shortcake, I would say that it’s a cross between a cake and a scone, with the colour and firmness of a scone, but the inside is still soft and cake-like. The key difference between a shortcake and the rest is that a shortcake is brought together not by milk or any other liquid agent – but by good old fashioned cream! I used 2 entire Amul Fresh Cream tetra packs (200ml each), and about 140gm of butter! That being said, this is a festive desert, and the holidays are made special by indulgences such as these! (or so I keep telling myself!)
Normal people such as myself don’t keep 2-3 of the same size cake pans lying around for good measure. What I do have is 2 x 10″ cake pans, one whose ring opener doesn’t work, and one whose works. So for the 3rd, I used a similar aluminum sized tart pan, all buttered the same way. But in the end, there was a huge difference in the colour and caramelisation of the sugar in the darker pans vs the aluminium one. So much so, that I feared the aluminium one hadn’t cooked through perfectly, and had to pop it back in for another 10-15 minutes, but it still refused stubbornly to take on colour like the other layers had.
- 140gm butter
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 400ml heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered or icing sugar
- 700gm Strawberries, stems removed and halved across the width
- 2 cups heavy/whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180°c and generously butter 3 x 8" or 10" round cake pans.
- In a larger than anticipated bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt, if using). You can even do this in a food processor, if you have a large enough one - I didn't hence I used a pastry blender and a large bowl.
- Add butter and pulse in food processor or cut in with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Gradually add heavy cream stir into bowl with until just moistened (do not over mix).
- Even if it doesn't come together just yet, turn it out onto a slightly floured surface and gently knead, just until smooth.
- Divide dough into 3 equal portions and with hands, press each piece of dough into a prepared cake pan, spreading to edges and making as smooth as possible.
- Bake about 25 minutes or until top is golden. Let cool 5 minutes in pans on wire rack then turn out to cool completely on wire rack. This step may take bit of gentle nudging, but don't worry, it will pop right out after the edges have been loosened ever so slightly!
- While the shortcakes are in the oven, combine the heavy cream and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar while beating just until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
- To serve, place first cake layer on serving plate and top with about 1/3 quartered strawberries in a single layer. Top with about 1/3 whipped cream and spread until even. Top with second cake layer and repeat with 1/3 quartered strawberries and 1/3 whipped cream. Top with final cake layer and spread remaining whipped cream in an even layer, leaving about 1-inch border around. Top with remaining quartered strawberries in a mound. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until needed.
- If need be, prepare all components the day before and assemble just before serving.
- If you use unsalted butter, add 1/4tsp salt to the dry ingredients mixture before incorporating the butter.