I‘ve noticed that the more stressed I get the more time I want to spend in the kitchen. I become a crazed pastry chef, heaving a large whisk in one hand and a hand blender in the other, flailing back and forth around the kitchen, throwing every ingredient into the mixing bowl. Oddly I find this enjoyable, soothing even, and while an outside observer may confuse this chaos with stress, it is actually my way of calming down. Nothing like sugar, butter, and licking a chocolate covered spoon to pick up your spirits.
It has been a stressful week, which is why my kitchen has had the constant aroma of freshly baked something or other in the air day after day. Between the flurry of resumes, cover letters, and fleeting thoughts about going to pastry school, I baked a strawberry shortcake, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, David Leibovitz’ dulce de leche brownies, and Clotilde’s berry tart. This makes for some very happy eaters but also some not so happy dieters battling with the temptation to taste the fruits of this labor.
Strawberry shortcake is my grandmother’s favorite. It is probably every grandmother’s favorite. Even my grandmother in Spain loves this cake. Although typically an American dessert, my grandmother requested this creamy cake for her birthday when we visited her a couple months ago. Strawberries, cake, and whipped cream are enticing on both sides of the Atlantic. My grandmother stateside was ecstatic to hear that I would be making this dessert, as she is usually ecstatic about the notion of any sweet dessert. I always thought that parents should be the ones regulating sweets for their children, but ever since I can remember, my mother and I were the ones watching my grandmother’s sugar intake and discovering her hidden stash of Entenmann’s crumb cake in the trunk of her car. It was Mother’s Day, however, so she was allowed to indulge just a bit. I even sprinkled some extra sugar on the strawberries, just how she likes it.
I make my strawberry shortcake as a layer cake using a pound cake recipe instead of using the biscuit-like shortcakes. This recipe works especially well for special occasions or when you have lots of guests. You could always substitute another cake recipe but I really like the buttery pound cake. Oh yes I almost forgot! I made some changes to the website, in particular a new banner for spring. I can’t be happier that spring is here. This whole weekend I spent lying down on the grass pretending to read and chasing after my dog Nico.
Strawberry Cream Cake
Pound cake adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
1/2 pound butter or (2 sticks) or (1 cup) or (225 g)
1 2/3 cups sugar or (325 g)
2 cups all purpose flour (280 g)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Heavy cream (about 1 cup depending on how much cream you like)
2 packets of strawberries
Sugar (3 tbsp or to taste)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Butter and sprinkle some flour on two 9 inch cake pans and set aside. First you need to cream the butter with an electric mixer or hand mixer, slowly adding sugar and beating until it is light. Next you need to add each egg one at time, beating lightly until they are mixed in fully. Now you can stir in the vanilla and then the flour and salt. Spoon in your mixture to your two buttered cake pans. Cook for about 45 minutes or until your toothpick comes out clean. When they are finished baking, let the cakes cool before removing them from the pan. You may need to cut the cake horizontally if it rose too much, in order to get an evenly flat surface in which to put on the whipped cream. Slice your strawberries when you are waiting for your cakes to cool down. Mix in a bit of sugar and put the strawberries back into the refrigerator.
In a separate bowl you will need to beat the heavy cream with some sugar. How much sugar you put is up to you, depending on how much of a sweet tooth you have. I usually pour a little bit in at a time until I achieve the desired sweetness. Whip the heavy cream for about 4 minutes or until the cream forms soft peaks. Do not over beat because the cream can quickly turn into butter.
Take out your sliced strawberries and place them on top of one of the cakes that have cooled. Make sure the cake surface is nice and even, cutting off the excess with a knife. On top of the layer of strawberries make a layer of the whipped cream. This will be your filling. Now place the cake on top of the layer trying your best to fill in the spaces in between. If you want you can frost the rest of your cake with the whipped cream, but I personally like to create another layer of strawberries on the top, pouring the strawberry syrup on top as well. After your second layer of strawberries you can frost your cake fully. To decorate I usually cut off the top of a couple of whole strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake.
This cake is best served the same day although it will last in the refrigerator for a couple days. The longer the cake stays in the fridge, the stiffer the whipped cream will get.