Over the Christmas break, I slept and slept and slept and pretty much camped at my sister’s house. Like Dorothy who followed the yellow brick road, I followed the Christmas leftovers! One day whilst eating my sister out of house and home, I came across a baking magazine and saw this beautiful recipe.
Now my preference is for simple recipes; a handful of ingredients, one or two steps and we’re off. But this was such a pretty cake, a bit enchanting really, and I decided to go for it.
This cake is not for the faint of heart or those that have things to do. It took me a while to get through, although I was moving at a leisurely pace so that may have something to do with it.
Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
(adapted from a recipe by Roger Pizey)
4 eggs separated
120g (4oz) caster sugar
3 tbsp full fat milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
120g (4oz) plain flour, sifted
25g (1oz) unsalted butter melted
Jellied Crème Chantilly
1 leaf of gelatin, softened in iced water
2 tbsp water
240ml (8fl oz) double cream
25g (1oz) icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
50 ml dark rum
2 tbsp l water
½ tsp vanilla extract
500g (11lb 2oz) fresh strawberries
Icing sugar to dust
200g (7oz) caster sugar
500g (11lb 2oz) fresh raspberries
4 tbsp clear apricot jam
A strip 10cm (4in) deep acetate paper (you can get this from a florist or cake decorating store).
1. Preheat the oven to 170oc/Gas Mark and grease and line an 18cm (7in) loose bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
2. Beat together the egg whites and sugar until they are stiff and glossy. Add in the egg yolks and whisk again.
3. Add the milk, vanilla extract and the flour and fold into the mixture. Then fold in the melted butter.
4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when entered into the centre of the cake.
5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing it from the tin and cooling on a cooling tray. Chill the cake in the fridge while preparing the other ingredients.
6. Make the jellied crème Chantilly. Soften the gelatin in iced water (this removes any residue). Discard this water. Heat up the water in a small pan and dissolve the leaf in the hot water. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, vanilla and sugar. Gradually add the gelatin and whisk slowly until the cream has thickened. Transfer the cream to a piping bag.
8. Make the syrup. Place the water, rum and sugar into a small pan and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes and then take off the heat to cool.
9. Cut the cake in half horizontally, then brush away any excess crumbs. Ensure that the cake has cooled all the way through. If it is still warm inside then leave to cool for a few more minutes – it should not be warm to the touch.
10. Keep five or six strawberries for the top of the cake. Slice the rest of the strawberries into four or five slices each.
11. Line the inside (the side) of the baking tin used to make the cake using the acetate paper and cut to fit – it is ok if the paper comes out over the top of the tin.
12. Place the bottom layer of the cake back inside the tin and brush with some of the cooled syrup.
13. Pipe a thin layer of cream over the sponge and arrange strawberry slices around the edge, lining it against the acetate paper. Fill with the sliced strawberries and cream.
14. Dot the underside of the top layer with the syrup and carefully position it on top of the strawberries and cream. To get a really clean edge, you will need to tighten the acetate paper around the cake or you may find that the filling bulges out of the edges. Set in the fridge for at least an hour.
15. Make the fruit glaze. Heat the apricot jam and 1-2 tablespoons of water in a small sauce pan and warm it through, so it loosens up and becomes more liquid. Lightly brush the fruit to glaze. Or make the raspberry coulis. Put the sugar and raspberries in a blender, pulse and then strain through a sieve. Dip the whole strawberries in the coulis and set aside. The cake in this picture was made using the raspberry coulis but next time I will definitely glaze the fruit. It depends on how sweet you want the strawberries to taste, I found the raspberry coulis a little tart.
16. Remove the cake from the tin and carefully remove the acetate paper. Liberally sprinkle icing sugar over the top and decorate with strawberries.
17. Serve with an alcoholic beverage …. I say this because you have worked very hard indeed. You could always have tea though, the choice is yours.
You can probably make this cake in a fraction of the time using a traditional vanilla cake recipe with whipped cream instead of the jellied crème Chantilly. I think if you lodge the strawberries around the edge using the cream & then wrap the cake using some lightly greased baking paper, you may get a good look... Either way, let me know how you get on if you try it!
Peace & Love