Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

You will need:
2 layers of white cake
2 cups of strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup Nilla Wafer cookies
2 ziploc bags

I started with my favorite white cake recipe (or you can take a little help from the Pillsbury Dough Boy).

Once the cake was baked, I let it completely cool before I started to even try and mess with it. I like using a springform pan because I can release the side-piece and the cake cools much faster because it's not completely trapped by metal. I baked my cake in one pan and trimmed off the domed top and then cut it in half to make two layers. You could bake your cake in two separate pans so that you don't have to cut it in half but you'll probably still have to trim off the domed top that forms when the cake bakes.

While the cake was cooling, I macerated some strawberries.
I rinsed 2 cups of strawberries, trimmed off the green tops and sliced them. Then I sprinkled on 1/4 cup of sugar and tossed them together. I let them sit for a few minutes and soak up the sugar and release some juice. For a slightly more sophisticated flavor, you can add 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.


You can use toothpicks (2) to help guide you and cut straight through the cake, or you can use my method, which is easier (at least for me). I started by placing the blade on the edge of the cake where I wanted to trim (3). Then I placed my hand on top of the cake to hold it still as I guided my knife slowly into the cake (4). I make a 1" incision into the edge of the cake (5) and then I started to spin the cake, keeping the knife still, to make the incision all the way around. Then as I kept spinning the cake, I began pushing the knife in deeper and deeper, little by little until the whole top was cut off (6, 7). I used the same method to cut the cake into two layers (8).

Next, I started assembling the cake. I got my cake stand ready and put a few strips of parchment down so that when I started frosting the cake, the frosting wouldn't get all over the stand and make it look messy. Then I placed my bottom layer on top of the parchment, spread on a layer of jam, and then added a layer of the sliced strawberries.

I love frosting cakes with whipped cream instead of frosting. It's lighter, not as cloyingly sweet, and whipped cream goes so well with strawberries. Whip the cream until it's thick and foamy, add in the sugar, and then keep whipping until it's fluffy and looks spreadable. Be careful, if you over whip the cream, it'll separate and turn into butter! If you just barely over whip it (it'll look sort of lumpy and grainy), you can add in a little more cream (no more than 1/2 teaspoon) and whip it up again for just a few seconds. The added cream will help dissolve the lumps.
To frost the cake, I dropped a generous amount of whipped cream on top of the cake and spread the excess outward and then onto the sides of the cake. I took the leftover whipped cream and put it in a ziploc bag, cut a small hole, and piped little dots around the edge, just to be a little fancy.
I put Nilla Wafers in a ziploc bag and crushed them into crumbs using a meat mallet.
I used the crumbs to dust the edges of the cake. The best way to do this is to put your cake over a cookie sheet or newspapers to catch the crumbs. Then take a handful of crumbs, cup your hand near the edge of the cake, and then quickly press it onto the edge of the cake. Keep it up until all the edges are coated.
I decorated the center of the cake with a ring of strawberries (using the few leftover from the batch of macerated berries). You could fill in the whole thing OR you could do what I did... scroll down
Find a strawberry that's sort of fat, flat, and wide. Use a sharp knife to cut the bottom two-thirds of the berry into thin slices. Use your fingers to gently press the strawberry down and spread apart the sliced bits to make a really pretty garnish.


Once you're done decorating, you can pull out the strips of parchment and reveal a perfectly clean cake stand.
This is a perfect cake to serve with tea. I made chai. I think this cake and a cup of hot tea is a great way to treat yourself in the winter. The cake feels super summer-y and lifts your spirits and the tea is steamy and warms your insides. So amazing.
used some leftover whipped cream to give the tea frothy steamed milk feeling










Dig in! :)

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