I offered and then, to my delight, was requested to make this Japanese-style
strawberry shortcake (due to allergies I replaced the classic strawberries for a mix of raspberries and blueberries).This lovely summery cake is also known as Japanese Christmas Cake... wha? This cake does not evoke joyous holiday feelings for me but okay, okay the colours I get. Ya? Ya, okay.
This is loaded with all kinds of goodness I cannot eat, hmph, beyond that this was once upon a time my favourite sort of cake. A simple sponge with lots of fresh fruit and a light whipped cream accompaniment. If this cake wasn't for a 4 year old's birthday I would have most certainly laced the sugar syrup with a healthy dousing of Grand Marnier or St. Germain.
A Japanese strawberry shortcake is more like a light, fluffy, moist, bliss-filled genoise sponge rather than the classic dense (yet still delicious) British shortcake. The cake comes together a little like a choux pastry in that you melt the butter and mix the flour into the pot, be prepared, this produces an incredibly mouth-watering aroma. Also be warned this 4 layer 8" cake requires a dozen eggs. Twelve eggs lay in all their glory inside that cake. Why it's positively protein packed!
This picture makes me giggle because I was so excited when I found young shoots in my bundle of fresh mint. "How lucky", I thought. "Its micro mint!", I exclaimed. In the car on the way to the party, with the cake balanced precariously on my lap, I decided to taste said micro mint and received a piercing mouthful of bitter field weed. I'm not sure if you've ever eaten weed? But as soon as I tasted that chlorophyll punch various childhood memories of eating inedible plants came flooding back. Its like natures slap in the face "don't eat that you idiot!" So let me tell you the flavour is absolutely ghastly, needless to say I picked them off tout suite.
Here's the cake all gussied up for the birthday with some easy paper print-outs and a simple glitterified number four. Some times I wonder if the gum paste decor is really worth it? People still go nuts over paper and it takes about a 10th of the time. It was a race car theme by the way, Cars actually, but I decided to go for the more forward and unique '4 year old boys birthday meets 33 year old girls wedding' look.
No special notes for this recipe, she's mighty straight forward. Oh, just please buy a scale.
Japanese Berry Shortcake
Recipe adapted from Bisous A Toi
Yield: One 4 layer 8" round cake
- 200g cake flour (no substitutes!)
- 30g corn starch
- 2 eggs whole
- 10 egg yolks
- 130g whole milk
- 10 egg whites
- 200g berry sugar (caster, super fine)
- 1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 320° F (160° C) and grease, flour and parchment line two 8" round cake pans.
2. Lightly whisk the two whole eggs together with the yolks.
3. Sift the flour and cornstarch together three times to ensure a light and fluffy cake.
4. Heat butter and milk in a medium saucepan until melted and slightly warm. Do not boil mixture. Remove pan from the heat and add the flour mixture into the pot and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.
5. Transfer the mixture to a very large bowl and add in the egg yolk mixture and stir until combined.
6. In the very clean bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on med-high until frothy. Sprinkle in the salt and then sprinkle in the sugar in three increments as the egg whites are whisking on medium. Return to med-high and whisk until you reach soft peaks.
7. Pour 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the batter mixture and fold to lighten the batter. Pour the remaining 2/3 of the egg white mixture in and fold gently until no egg white streaks remain.
8. Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared pans (I like to weigh mine to make sure they are even). Lift the pans an inch or so off the counter and drop the pans a couple of times to release some of the air bubbles.
9. Place a 1/2 sheet pan in the oven on the middle rack. The two 8" cake pans should fit inside the pan side-by-side. Using a measuring cup, fill the sheet pan with water. Bake for 40-45 min or until the top springs back at your touch.
10. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool 10 minutes in the pans. Cakes will pull away considerably from the sides. Carefully place the cakes onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Once cool wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature one day or in the refrigerator two days.
Stabilized Whipped Cream Ingredients
- 2 tsp gelatin
- 8 tsp cold water
- 2 cups whipping cream, cold
- 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla
1. Place the whisk and bowl of your mixer into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill.
2. Put the cold water into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface. Let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until gelatin is just dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
4. Remove mixing bowl and whisk from freezer and add in the whipping cream, sifted icing sugar and vanilla and whisk on high until slightly thickened. With mixture on medium gradually pour the gelatin into the whipping cream. Return the mixture to high and whisk until you reach medium peaks.
Sugar Syrup Ingredients
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1-2 tbsp Grand Marnier, St. Germain, optional
Sugar Syrup Instructions
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over med-high heat and heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in optional liqueur. Let cool to room temperature.
- 18 oz raspberries/blueberries or 1 1/2 pints strawberries
1. Reserve a few of the prettiest berries to decorate the cake. Portion the remaining berries into thirds. If using strawberries dice the remaining berries and macerate with a sprinkling of berry sugar and divide into thirds.
2. Slice each sponge cake into 2 layers. Place one cake layer cut side up on a cake board or plate and lightly soak the surface with the sugar syrup. With an off-set spatula spread a thin layer of the whipped cream over the cake layer. Sprinkle a third of the berries over the whipped cream making sure to place some at the edges of the cake. Spread a thicker layer of whipped cream over the berries and top with another cake layer. Repeat these steps for the next two layers. Syrup, whip, berry, whip.
3. Place the cake in the refrigerator and let chill for 30 minutes to set the whipped cream. Assemble the cake the day of for best flavour.
4. To decorate, sprinkle the top of the cake with a heavy dusting of icing sugar. Pile the berries in the center and garnish with chopped pistachios, dried flowers or lavender and sprigs of mint. It also looks great if you toss some icing sugar and garnish on to the sides of the cake for a rustic look.
Sorry for my slow posts, I think I've got another pattern brewing so stay tuned!