For the longest time, my idea of strawberry shortcake is made with airy sponge cake sandwiching Chantilly cream and fresh strawberries. It was not until a few years ago that I learned for many people, strawberry shortcake is made with warm cream biscuit, Chantilly cream, and macerated strawberries. Cream biscuit has always been elusive to me because I’m rarely happy with my own handy work. There’s always something I’m not happy with. Perhaps the biscuit spread too much during baking, or it wasn’t perfectly round and tall, or I overworked the dough and ended up with tough biscuits. In recent memories, my one and only success came a few years ago when I made a whole bunch of biscuit-style strawberry shortcake for a friend’s birthday.
For visual impact, I’m partial to strawberry shortcake made with sponge cake or butter cake. I can make a large sheet cake, a round layer cake for a small gathering, or even individual servings all equally appealing. Taste-wise, it’s not shabby either! Just the other day, I made Flo Braker’s Favourite Buttermilk Cake from her book Baking For All Occasions. This was not the first time I followed that recipe. In fact, I used it before to make Lamingtons. This is such a versatile cake with tight crumb and a slight tang from the buttermilk. It’s the perfect foil for so many different fillings. I filled mine with whipped crème fraiche and macerated strawberries for a hybrid. The filling is similar to what I would use in a biscuit-style strawberry shortcake yet the additional structure provided by the buttermilk cake makes the whole thing visually stunning.
My last successful attempt at making biscuit-style strawberry shortcake. Oh it was a beauty.
Whipped crème fraiche is not the typical choice for strawberry shortcake but I think it worked very well in this case. I folded together half whipped crème fraiche and half regular whipped cream with a touch of sugar. The whipped cream added good volume while the crème fraiche had a subtle tanginess that cuts the sweetness of the strawberries and cake. If using whipped cream only, I would likely flavour it with a smidgen of vanilla paste.
I baked my buttermilk cake in a 9” square cake pan and then cut into 12 pieces. Each piece was sliced across the middle to be filled. I could have easily make it into one large cake instead but I rather like the individual servings because it saved me the trouble of cutting a large cake into very neat pieces. However, layering the filling was a precarious task! The strawberries did not want to stay in one place and balancing a dollop of cream at just the right angle to support a piece of cake on top was apparently tougher than I anticipated. Good thing this cake looked just as pretty even when it is slightly topsy turvy.
Which style comes to mind when you think of strawberry shortcake?
I’m traveling in Denmark right now for an inline speed skating training camp. I’m really enjoying my stay here at Gerlev Idrætshøjskole, a school with excellent facilities. I’ve been enjoying some excellent food from the school’s dining hall (imagine that!). They source most of their ingredients from local farms or their own garden. And I discovered that I love pickled herrings! So much to tell, so little time. I haven’t even touched on all the unfamiliar chocolate bars and candies and junk food I see at grocery stores! I can’t wait to share with you some of my food-related experiences here. If you’re interest in my skating-related activities, c’mon over to Dream Chaser On Wheels to take a look!