Yesterday, my daughter turned 14. We celebrated by leaving her pesky brothers at home and headed out for a yummy tapas lunch and shopping. After that, we returned home for her birthday cake. She had requested for a Japanese Strawberry Shortcake, "just like last year's". Fair enough, since I don't make cream cakes very often.
I baked the sponge cakes and whipped the cream a day before. Assembly was done on the morning of her birthday, after which, I left it to chill in the fridge when we went out to lunch. By the time we returned, it was perfect for eating.
I tried out a different recipe this time. I was blindly surfing around when I saw this video tutorial by a Japanese lady and decided to click on it to watch. Thank goodness I did! I loved, loved, loved how the cake turned out. Two finger-lickin' thumbs up from me! This will definitely be my go-to recipe for Japanese Strawberry Shortcake from now.
Of course I have to give props to my new oven too. The sponge cakes were evenly browned and beautifully leveled. No ugly cracks or domes at all. Oh Mr Rowenta, you sure know how to win a lady's heart!
Here are a few quick shots of the cake which I took as I went along, nothing fancy or styled ... just the cake, as is.
Assembling the cake. I made 2 layers.
Fully frosted and looking almost exactly like the cake last year. Yes, even on the same plate! Creature of habit, I am. By the way, I love fresh cream but I hate working with it. Having said that, the cream was seriously to die for! Did you hear me? It was TO DIE FOR, thanks to the addition of rum! Yum!
The day after. This was one of 2 (surprisingly neat) leftover slices which my daughter and I walloped for tea today. You should have seen the messy cut-up cake after we sang the birthday song. Horrors.
Well, below is the recipe I worded based on what I saw in the video, my own notes included. Do hop over to watch the video. Nothing says it like a video does ... there are also precious tips like how to fold the flour into the eggs, how high to pour the batter into the tin, and so forth. I have already subscribed to this channel. :)
And so, another year, another birthday cake. The time just passes. May my firstborn always be blessed with happiness, health and wisdom. Have a wonderful 14th year, my darling! And many, many more to come!
(from the lovely ochikeron)
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 60g caster sugar (I used my own vanilla sugar)
- 60g cake flour* (sifted) (I used top flour)
- 20g unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
* If you do not have cake flour, measure out 60g of plain flour, then remove 1 tbsp of it and replace with 1 tbsp of corn flour.
- 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 20ml very hot water
- 1 tsp rum (I use Bacardi Gold)
Cream (super delicious!)
- 300ml dairy whipping cream (I used President)
- 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar (I used my own vanilla sugar)
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp rum (I use Bacardi Gold)
* For those who do not have rum (about time you buy a bottle!), you can use 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or the caviar of 1 vanilla pod.
1 punnet fresh strawberries (250g)
- for the sandwich layer, slice off the tops and cut into halves
- for decorations on top, all up to you!
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Beat eggs and sugar over a bain-marie (hot water bath) until the mixture warms up. This is to dissolve the sugar. The mixture should be pleasant to the touch - you can dip your finger in without getting scalded. Remove the mixture from the bain-marie and continue beating the egg mixture till it triples in volume and turns very pale (almost white). It took my electric handheld (single) whisk almost 30 minutes. Yes, that long. My rule of thumb is - if you are ever in doubt, just continue beating!
2. Towards the last 2 to 3 minutes, beat on the lowest speed to stabilise the mixture and eliminate large bubbles. When the egg mixture has reached the "ribbon stage", sift in the flour a little at a time (I would recommend in 3 stages). Cut through the mixture with a wire whisk after each addition.
3. Sprinkle the cooled melted butter over the batter and fold in using a spatula.
4. Pour the batter from a height of 30cm into a lined tin. Towards the end, pour the remaining batter to one side of the tin (I believe this prevents the cake from developing a dome).
5. Lift the tin and drop it gently onto the table top twice to eliminate air bubbles.
6. Bake the cake for 25 minutes. While it bakes, make the simple syrup solution. Dissolve 1/2 tbsp sugar in 20ml of very hot water. Then add rum. Stir to mix well and set aside.
7. Now, make the cream. Whip the cream, sugar and rum (preferably in a metal bowl) sitting over an ice bath. Whip till soft peaks form. Keep it chilled in the fridge, covered, at all times.
8. When the cake is done, turn it onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool with the pan covering it. Wrap using clingwrap when it is completely cooled if you do not intend to frost the cake on the same day (the cake keeps for 2 to 3 days, refrigerated). Otherwise, proceed to slice the cake in half, horizontally.
9. Now, brush sugar syrup onto the first layer of the cake (sliced side). This keeps the sponge cake nice and moist.
10. Spread a layer of cream and then top with halved strawberries. Add another layer of cream over.
11. Brush the remaining layer of cake (sliced side) with sugar syrup, then place it on top of the strawberries and cream. Proceed to frost the entire cake.
12. Any remaining cream can be plonked onto the middle of the cake for decorative purposes. The mound of cream helps "hold" the strawberry garnishes. You can use whole strawberries or halves, or a mixture of both, for decoration.
13. Keep the cake chilled until time of serving. The colder the cake, the easier it is to cut (and the yummier it is to eat!).
- I used an 18-cm (7-inch) cake tin and got quite a flat cake. If you look at my first photo, you can see how low it was. I don't know if it was because I did not line the cake tin? Anyway, I decided to bake another one for the 2nd layer because I had relatives coming over and I was afraid there was not enough cake to go around. The next time I bake this, I will use a slightly smaller tin (maybe a 16-cm/6-inch) so that I will get a taller cake. Surprisingly, the cream was enough to frost the entire cake, despite the extra layer!
- I used a dark-coloured tin just like the one in the video. As it was a non-stick tin, I decided not to line it with parchment paper (lazy me!) but instead wrap the exterior with aluminum foil. This is important because dark coloured tins have the tendency to cook cakes faster.
- I whipped the cream the night before and left it in the fridge, covered. The next day, I re-whipped it briefly to aerate it again.