Japanese Strawberry “Shortcake” – It’s a Cake!
This cake right here y’all. This is the elusive, not-so-sweet and FLUFFY AS A CLOUD sponge cake recipe of your dreams. If you’re wondering, “hold on – this is a cake, and strawberry shortcake is made with biscuits!”
I say you’re completely right; the classic version is super delicious and amazing – um buttery, flaky biscuits? Hell yea. As much as I love that version – my go-to is this recipe from Bon Appetit – I also love the Asian take on what strawberry shortcake is: a super light, subtle-y sweet sponge cake, layered with chantilly cream (fancy talk for sweetened whip cream) and strawberries! I find it interesting how different each culture’s tastes in desserts are – I’d eat it all.
To be honest, I’m not sure which country came up with this version first, but most recipes and articles online reference this as being Japanese, so I’m just gonna stay faithful to that!
However, if you’re Asian or Mexican, you might’ve grown up with these kinds of cakes from the respective grocery stores; you know what I’m talking about – those admittedly dry, whip cream-frosted sponge cakes topped with a variety of fruit!
….Honestly, I remember always wanting American-style ice cream cakes instead. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown an appreciation for gentle, sweet tastes, and this cake is perfect for that! It’s also way better than the dry cakes that sit in the display in those grocery store bakeries – trust me.
I’ve adjusted this recipe I found from Hello Sweet Dessert for the sponge cake, making it more convenient for our American sensibilities~
I’ve also added macerated strawberries instead of plain ones, like their biscuit counterparts, and stabilized whip cream instead of your usual sweetened whip cream!
The reason why I’m macerating strawberries – which means soaking fruit in sugar to release juices – is to 1) make them juicer and sweeter and 2) to use the natural sugar syrup it makes to SOAK the cakes with! I know someone has probably thought of this already, but I feel pretty genius thinking of this if I do say so myself.
I’m also stabilizing whip cream with milk powder so that the cake lasts longer in the fridge – unfortunately, whip cream deflates and starts seeping so quickly. Using this method will slow that process down! This is optional however, because I know how it is buying ingredients you hardly use. If this option is available to you, I highly recommend it!
Check out my story highlight for this recipe on my Instagram @pokethedough! It’s nice to have visual reference ain’t it?
For the sponge cake layers:
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup + 3 tbsp granulated sugar, separate 2 tbsp out for the egg yolks
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup whole milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup cake flour
2-1/2 tbsp cornstarch
For the macerated strawberries:
1 lb strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
For stabilized whip cream:
3 cup (24oz) heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp powdered milk
About 5 of your best looking strawberries, or how many you want to arrange on top of your cake
Strawberry jam/preserves (optional: to make the strawberries shine)
Baking the cake:
In a clean bowl (egg whites will not whip with any hint of fat or egg yolk, so make sure the bowl is clean, and your egg whites don’t have a hint of yolk in them), beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.
Add half of the (1/3 cup and 1 tbsp) sugar and whip on high speed until no sugar is visible.
Repeat with the second half of sugar. (It’s important to add the sugar in two additions this way because we don’t want to deflate the egg whites.)
Whip until you get soft peaks – when you lift up the beaters, there should be visible peaks standing up, but tips that slump down. We don’t want stiff, straight peaks for this because it’ll make the cake slightly dry. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl (choose a bowl that’ll fit the meringue you just made), whisk egg yolks and remaining 2 tbsp of sugar.
Whisk in oil and milk to combine.
Sift in the cake flour and cornstarch and whisk well.
Gently fold in 1/3 of the meringue into yolk mixture until there are no streaks left – fold from bottom to upwards in slow motion until both mixtures are well combined.
Fold in the remaining meringue and combine gently, but thoroughly without deflating the volume.
Pour into two prepared 8-inch round cake pans. (My method is buttering the pans, lining the bottom of the pan with parchment, and lightly flouring it – it never fails.) Two 6-inch pans work too – it’ll just be thicker and you will need to split each cake layer in two!
Bake in preheated oven at 340F for 25 minutes, until it springs back when you gently press your finger in.
Once baked, invert the cake layers onto a cooling rack, remove parchment, and allow to cool.
Macerating the strawberries:
In a bowl, add the sliced strawberries, 1/4 cup of sugar, and lemon juice.
Mix it all up and allow it to sit for 15 minutes to release its natural juices, periodically mixing it to distribute the juices evenly.
Pour this natural syrup into a separate bowl or squeeze bottle to moisten the cakes later.
Making the stabilized whip cream:
Place a large bowl and electric beater whisks in the freezer for five minutes to chill before making the whipped cream.
Once the bowl is chilled, add all the ingredients.
Attach your whisk beaters and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, or until you have stiff peaks – the peaks will stand up straight and won’t puddle down on its self.
Either using a pastry brush or squeeze bottle, brush or pour on the macerated strawberry syrup onto each cake layers, letting the syrup soak into the cake.
Spread a generous layer of the whip cream on the bottom cake layer.
Arrange strawberry slices so that as much white space is filled as possible.
Repeat for more layers of strawberries until you run out.
Top with another generous layer of whip cream and the last cake layer.
Frost with remaining whip cream frosting.
Brush your best strawberries with jam to make them shine! Top the cake with the strawberries and surround with whip cream swirls.
Serve or chill immediately. This cake will last a 2-3 days in the fridge.