Birthday Shortcake with Fresh Strawberries and Cream
My choice for the best birthday cake stars fruit, and this cake is definitely worthy of an elegant, cut-crystal cake stand. Juicy strawberries are paired with a moist almond cake. This lush dessert overflows with billowy whipped cream.
Since this dessert is really all about showcasing ripe seasonal strawberries, make it when you can get your hands on some really good ones. Your best bet is to make a connection with a local farmer or shop the farmers’ market. I’ve been buying organic strawberries from my own strawberry guru, Franca Tantillo of Berried Treasures, at the Union Square market in New York City for over two decades now, and they still amaze me every year. Because she has such a green thumb, some years Franca has strawberries available until the end of November, and I’ve even been able to make strawberry shortcake as an appropriate, if unexpected, Thanksgiving dessert.
Makes one (8-inch) round cake, enough for 8 servings
- One (8-inch) round cake pan
- Parchment paper
- Cake tester
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (4.25 ounces, 121 grams)
- 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar (5.25 ounces, 150 grams)
- 1/3 cup almond paste (see Sources, page 275) (3.3 ounces, 95 grams)
- 4 large eggs (6.8 ounces, 193 grams), at room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks (1.95 ounces, 55.8 grams), at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (2 ounces, 57 grams)
- Whipped Cream:
- 1 pint heavy cream (20 ounces, 567 grams)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (1.6 ounces, 37.5 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (.25 ounce, 5 grams)
- Topping and Filling:
- 2 pints fresh strawberries, green hulls cut off (5 cups, 830 grams)
- Superfine sugar to taste
For the Shortcake:
Use butter to grease an 8-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a parchment circle cut to size, and spray lightly with nonstick food spray. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Sift the flour onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the confectioner’s sugar and almond paste together on low speed until the mixture becomes smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Make sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Add the yolks in the same manner, and beat for 10 to 15 minutes until thoroughly combined, well aerated, and smooth. Sprinkle the flour over the batter and fold it in gently by hand. Fold in the melted butter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool on a cake rack for 15 minutes before unmolding. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom and allow the cake to cool completely.
For the whipped cream:
When the cake is cool, remove it from the mold and slice it in half horizontally. Place the cake layer cut side up on the cake plate or serving platter.
Whip the heavy cream with the granulated sugar and vanilla extract to stiff peaks. to assemble and serve.
Spoon half the whipped cream onto the bottom layer of the cake. Place half the hulled strawberries, tightly spaced, over the cream.
Place the other cake half, cut side up again, on top of the strawberries, making sure the sides are well aligned, and press down very gently.
Spoon the remaining whipped cream onto this layer and top with the rest of the strawberries and a dusting of superfine sugar. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours; serve directly from the refrigerator.
Reprinted with permission from The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark, copyright © 2010. Published by W.W. Norton and Company
Photography by Marcus Nilsson copyright © 2010