Fluffy, airy and moist, this Japanese Strawberry Shortcake consists of layers of delicate sponge cake generously filled with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Whether celebrating an occasion or treating yourself to afternoon tea, this is a winning centrepiece!
I love Japanese cakes, it was therefore no question that I had to include one on my blog! And where else am I better off starting other than with the famous strawberry shortcake? The sponge itself is super soft and elastic, making it much lighter than typical cakes. It is a genoise cake, meaning it is made by whisking air into the eggs to make it rise rather than using leavening agents like baking powder or soda. With two to three layers, they are then delicately filled with freshly whipped cream, and an explosion of ripe strawberries, creating an elaborate symphony of flavours and textures with each bite.
Strawberry shortcake is one of, if not the most, popular cake in Japan. It is formally bought to celebrate special events whereby it is a birthday party or Christmas. Even for something more casual like a small get together, this cake is perfect for such an occasion; I also guarantee it will bring you compliments all round.
Whilst browsing the internet, I was surprised to learn that such an elegant cake could be made so easily! It used largely pantry items, making it already very accessible for the amateur baker. Its assembly of the layers and external decoration was also the perfect opportunity for me to try out my new baking utensils!
I was heavily inspired by HidaMari’s recipe for strawberry shortcake. After watching her video, I decided to treat myself to a cake leveller and a turntable which she is seen to be using in her video. For how inexpensive they were, I was surprised at how robust the quality was, and also how much I enjoyed working with them – it made decorating the cake infinitely easier, quicker and less frustrating (I am a perfectionist – forgive me!). So for the sake of my blog, I am very excited to review my lovely new purchases.
The first one I used was the cake leveller to cut the cake into neat, equal layers. Although this step can be done ordinarily with a serrated knife, I loved just how clean and straight the cut was. And even in this instance, whereby the cake was going to be hidden with frosting, the leveller still gave me a quiet satisfaction at how professional and seamless the inside was going to look when cut! After all, the interior is arguably the most important part of this cake as it reveals those carefully placed strawberries!
Once cut, it was time to move on to my second new toy – the cake turntable! Oh, the joys of finally having a cake stand (albeit it’s not the most glamorous one). A cake turntable is a rotary cake stand used to decorate cakes and assemble them. The turntable itself is very sturdy and moves smoothly without difficulty. It even came in a set with a flat and angled palette knife, and three icing smoother tools – obvious essentials when it comes to making the most professional, streamlined cake! This was fabulous for my needs and I am now well equipped for all my subsequent bakes.
Whilst on the topic of decorating, I think it would be worth mentioning that I did encounter one small problem whilst decorating this cake. In true Gingery Ginseng fashion, I wanted to adorn the top with a ring of whipped cream florets between the negative space of the strawberries. I, however, got far too carried away with whipping the cream that it churned to butter! HAHA!
It was a shame that my culinary vision did not come true, but needless to say, this cake was extremely delicious. Accordingly, I still wanted to share my baking experience, and the delights of my new toys, with all you lovely readers!
With all said, let’s move on to the recipe!
Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
- 30 g butter
- 30 ml milk
- 4 eggs
- 110 g sugar
- 20 g honey
- 120 g plain flour (sifted twice to ensure a smooth batter).
- 2 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp of any liquor of choice (I used white rum this time but there are recipes with whiskey and I have used apple vodka in the past).
- 500 ml double cream
- 50 g sweet condensed milk (optional).
- 40 g icing sugar
- halved strawberries
- Line an 8-inch cake tin with baking parchment, and preheat the oven to 170ºC.
- Begin with whisking the eggs until combined. Add the sugar and continue to whisk. Then place it in a bain-marie (be careful to not have it too hot as it will scramble the eggs!) and continue to whisk until the temperature rises to 40ºC.
- Using a stand mixer, add the honey and whisk the batter until pale, thick, and tripled in volume. Meanwhile, in a second bowl, melt the butter and whisk in the milk. Set the second bowl aside.
- Removing the bowl from the stand mixer, sift half of the flour to the batter and gently fold through. Once incorporated, add the remaining flour and again, gently fold through. Make sure to do this step slowly so that the mixture does not deflate.
- Add a spoonful of the batter to the butter mixture and mix well. This extra step is essential because the fat in the butter will deflate the batter if we add it directly. Add the mixture back to the batter and mix.
- Pour the batter into the cake tin and drop it onto the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
- Once cooked, immediately remove from the tin and let it cool on a wire rack. Cover the cake with a damp towel to keep it moist.
- Prepare the strawberries, halving them, and removing the husks.
- Make a syrup in a small bowl with the water, sugar and liquor. Microwave for a minute to dissolve the sugar.
- With a serrated knife or cake leveller, cut the cake horizontally into two layers.
- Place the bottom of the cake on a plate or turntable, and brush the syrup over its top and sides. This will keep the sponge moist.
- Whisk the double cream, condensed milk and icing sugar until stiff.
- Spread a layer of whipped cream on the cake. Arrange the strawberries on the sponge.
- Coat with another layer of cream. (Admittedly I forgot to do two layers of cream but I preferred it this way!)
- Place the top layer of the sponge cake and brush with the syrup.
- Cover the exterior with whipped cream. Use an icing spatula to achieve a smooth finish by rotating the turntable towards you. Remove any excess cream.
- Decorate with cream and strawberries. Other fruits such as blueberries can be used.
- Bon appétit (or meshiagare in Japanese!)