Maybe it’s the beautiful way it’s decorated, or the contrast of the red strawberries against the whiteness of the fluffy icing and the soft yellow cake, but when it comes to desserts in anime, I don’t think there’s anything more iconic or pleasing to see than the ubiquitous and always classically classy strawberry shortcake.
In anime, it feels like strawberry shortcakes are found simply everywhere… School girls eat it during their afternoon teatime; birthdays are celebrated with this special cake; work colleagues buy it as a little treat; families cut slices for Christmas… There’s almost no end it the number of strawberry shortcakes I’ve spotted in anime!
And so, since it’s so close to Christmas, I thought it’d be a great time to share this recipe with all of you! I hope you have an opportunity to give this fancy little cake a try, regardless of the time of year.
For even more pictures of strawberry shortcake in anime, make sure to check out my Tumblr!
About the recipe:
Putting together a strawberry shortcake isn’t the easiest endeavor, but I always find it so rewarding and fun to make… and of course, it’s delicious too! While this cake is always a showstopper no matter what time of year you make it, I especially like making it in the summertime when strawberries are in season and are beautifully ripe and sweet.
The recipe is divided into 3 parts: the cake, the icing, and the strawberry sauce. A long, multi-step recipe like this one can be daunting to approach for the first time, but just take it slow and steady. The cake and the sauce can both be made in advance (I like making it the day before to save time and take some pressure off). The icing should be done on the day you plan to eat the cake. This cake looks and tastes the best when chilled and eaten on the same day you assembled it.
And, one last note about the recipe: the original recipe was for a 9 inch pan, but the version in this post is converted for a 6 inch pan, which is why some of the measurements are a bit wonky. I will probably add the amounts for the 9 inch version in the near future…
Now, here are a few tips to help you in your cake-making journey:
How many whole strawberries will you need for decorating the cake? It’s hard to say for sure, since all strawberries are slightly different in size. However, for a 6 inch pan, I use about 6 strawberries (halved) per layer. Check how many strawberries you’ll need per layer by measuring it against the pan you use.
Cutting the cake into three even layers can be difficult, but if you score the cake with a shallow cut using a serrated knife, then follow the path (using it as a guide) while cutting around and through the cake gradually, you can separate the cake into pretty even layers.
About the ingredients:
Cake flour is a particular type of flour that contains less protein than all purpose flour, and is of a fine texture and very light colour. The lower amount of protein in the flour makes it so that less gluten forms when it’s used in a recipe, which in turn makes it ideal for making soft, fine crumbed cakes. Cake flour is readily available in most grocery stores. Just don’t get it mixed up with cake mix!
Cream cheese is used in this recipe to lend a nice tangy flavour to the icing. Before using, make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature (ie. soft but not warm) so that it whips up smoothly and without any lumps.
A word of warning regarding cream cheese: I have had great success with this icing using Philadelphia Cream Cheese from Canada and the US. It’s not always the most solid icing to work with (especially in Chicago’s summery 35 C heat), but keeping it chilled and working to stages always helps.
However, ever since moving to Japan, I have been unable to make this icing work. For whatever reason, the cream cheese (I’m still using Philadelphia brand) in Japan causes the icing to be very runny, and no amount of whipping, chilling, or stabilizer (I admittedly haven’t tried gelatin yet, but still….) has made it firm enough to decorate a cake with. So, if you’re in Japan, or you’re just not sure about your cream cheese situation, you can always decorate the cake with simple whipped cream instead.
Strawberries are really the centerpiece of this cake, so make sure you find yourself some nice looking berries that are ripe and ready for eating. It’s also nice if all your berries are close in size so that your cake looks more even when assembled.
Strawberry cream cake (for a 6-inch pan)
Serves about 6
For the cake:
- 0.4 cups (3.1 oz/88 g) sugar (reserve 4 tsp/17 g)
- 1/2 cup (2.2 oz/63 g) cake flour
- 1 ⅔ tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 3 large eggs at room temperature (1 whole, 2 separated)
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp (1.3 oz/38 g) unsalted butter
- 13 ml (0.8 tsp) water
- 4.4 ml (0.8 tsp) vanilla
- pinch of cream of tartar
For the filling:
- 0.8 (404 g) strawberries (~2 ⅔ cups)
- 1 ¾ – 2 ½ tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
For the icing:
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 cup heavy cream
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter or grease and flour a round 6 inch pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but the reserved 4 tsp of sugar in a mixing bowl. Add 1 whole egg and 2 yolks, butter, water, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Reserve the remaining 2 egg whites.
- In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the 2 remaining egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer still running, gradually add the remaining sugar, then increase the speed to medium-high. Whisk until soft peaks form.
- Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten the batter. Gently fold the remaining whites into the batter until no white streaks remain.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- When the cake is baked, cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, invert the cake onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment. Invert the cake again and let cool completely.
For the strawberry filling:
- Select 12 of the best looking strawberries that are similar in size. Halve the 12 strawberries and set aside until ready to assemble the cake.
- Quarter the remaining strawberries and toss with 1 ¾ – 2 ½ tbsp sugar (the amount of sugar will depend on the sweetness of the berries). Let sit until the strawberries have macerated and its juices have been released, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
- Strain the juices from the strawberries and reserve the juices for later.
- Place the strained strawberries into a food processor and pulse five times for 1 second each time, or until the strawberries form a chunky puree. Place strawberry puree into a bowl.
- In a small saucepan, simmer the reserved juices over medium high heat until reduced to about 1 ½ tbsp, about 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over strawberries, add a pinch of salt, and mix to combine. Set aside until cool and it’s time to assemble the cake.
For the icing:
- Just before you assemble the cake, whisk the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt together at medium-high in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
- Reduce speed to low and add cream in a slow steady stream. When almost fully combined, increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until it holds stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.
- Divide the whipped cream icing evenly into two portions and set aside until ready to assemble the cake.
To assemble the cake:
- Cut the cake into 3 even layers. Place the bottom layer on a cake round or cake plate. Arrange the strawberry halves along the edge of the cake, with the cut stem side facing out.
- Pour half the pureed strawberry mixture into the middle of the cake layer and spread it out to cover the exposed cake layer (the strawberry halves will act as a barrier to contain the puree).
- Working with one portion of the whipped cream icing, gently spread a third of the whipped cream over the pureed strawberry, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge.
- Place the second cake layer on top of the whipped cream and press down gently to position. Repeat the same process with the halved strawberries, strawberry puree, and whipped cream.
- Place the third cake layer on top of the whipped cream and press down gently to position. Use the remaining whipped cream to cover the top of the cake, using an offset spatula. Working with the second portion of whipped cream, cover the sides of the cake in an even layer. You won’t need to use all of the icing.
- Place any remaining whipped cream icing into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Decorate the cake with piped icing and any extra strawberries you may have.
- Store cake in the fridge until ready to serve.
Source: America’s Test Kitchen