Strawberry Shortcake - A Summer Tradition
Strawberry shortcake is the quintessential summer dessert here in New England. Many towns have annual Strawberry Festivals to celebrate the start of summer and the delicious strawberry harvest it brings. As a kid, I would either ask my sweet mom for a strawberry shortcake cake or chocolate cake as my birthday cake every year. She'd make either a giant scone-like biscuit or a fluffy vanilla cake to layer with fresh whipped cream and macerated strawberries.
Turning strawberry shortcake into a layer cake
Shortcake is most often served as individual split shortcakes filled with whipped cream and macerated strawberries. I love it that way, but sometimes it's fun to make a giant layer cake version to wow your friends and family at the picnic.
The method is quite simple. Just form the shortcake dough into 2 large rounds about 6 inches wide. Cut them in half horizontally to make 4 shortcake layers then layer them up with stabilized whipped cream and macerated strawberries. Once the cake is assembled it best eaten right away just as individual-sized shortcakes are.
How to stabilize whipped cream
Whipped cream is airy and delicious but its soft whipped peaks mean that it can liquefy after a time, which is not ideal when using it in a layer cake situation. Luckily whipped cream is easy to stabilize with the help of creamy mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone tastes just like unsweetened whip cream so it is perfect to whip into the mixture to help make it sturdier and hold up between cake layers.
You don't want to use cold mascarpone straight from the refrigerator because it can create lumps in whipped cream nor do you want room temperature mascarpone as it can become too soft to add any stabilizing powers. I like to let it sit out at room temp for 10-15 minutes just to soften up a bit but not too much.
It is better to start whipping the cream first so it starts to thicken up then add the mascarpone and continue whipping until soft but firm peak form. Keep your eyes on the cream as it whips because whipped cream will over-whip quickly and then the cream will split and start to turn into butter. Side note: this is how you make homemade butter by the way. If your cream splits and you catch it just after it happens you can try to save it by mixing in more heavy cream. It has worked for me before.
Assembling the Strawberry Shortcake Cake
Assembling the cake is easy! You can pipe on the cream or simply spoon it onto each layer of biscuit, followed by the macerated strawberries. Watch the video below to see how I assembled this.
Strawberry Shortcake Cake Questions:
Can I make this recipe for individual shortcakes?
Yes, simply cut the dough out using 2 or 3-inch round cutters to form smaller individual shortcakes. Bake them at the same temperature but reduce the time to 15-20 minutes. Serve them individually with a generous dollop of cream and berries.
Can I make this recipe ahead?
The biscuits can be made earlier in the day, cooled, and kept loosely wrapped at room temperature until you are ready to assemble the cake. The stabilized whipped cre4am can be made earlier in the day as well but should be kept covered and refrigerated until ready to use. The macerated strawberries are best made about 15-30 minutes before assembly and serving. Shortcake is best eaten shortly after it is made and will not keep well once assembled.
Can this Strawberry Shortcake Cake be made vegan?
Yes, use coconut milk in an equal amount by volume to replace heavy cream in the biscuits. Use vegan butter in an equal amount by weight to replace butter. I like to use Country Crock plant butter in vegan baked goods. The whipped cream is harder to substitute as all vegan whipped cream alternatives seem to liquefy very quickly. You could try using very thick coconut yogurt and sweeten it to taste. Instead of an egg wash brush the dough with plant milk mixed with a drop of olive oil and a drop of apple cider vinegar.
Can I use other fruit in this shortcake recipe?
Yes, this cake is a great way to feature any in-season summer fruit. Try blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries and stone fruit like peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries. Mix them together too - peaches and blueberries are an excellent combo.
For more ways to use strawberries this season check out these recipes:
- Strawberry Elderflower Gin Smash
- Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream with Strawberry Jam Ripple
- Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Frangipane Galettes
- Wild Honeysuckle Strawberry Lemonade
- Semolina Strawberry Shortcake
- Strawberry Icebox Pie
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