17 June 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Strawberry Shortcake

The strawberries are here! The strawberries are here!!!

Dudes, did you hear? The strawberries are here.

Living in Canada, in Ontario, in the suburbs, we can't really say the summer has started without an obligatory strawberry-picking excursion to a local farm. For us it's a mostly annual tradition: 40 minutes of picking berries under a gruelling hot sun, then an equal amount of time standing in line to pay premium prices for the berries you just picked yourself, and then home to make yourself sick eating all the berries in one go that you just paid a mint for. It's awesome.

If you're feeling adventurous, though, those berries can be more than just a bowl-full with milk and sugar. You can make all kinds of strawberry things: strawberry jam, strawberry compote, strawberry ice cream, dried strawberries and my favourite, strawberry shortcake.

Warning: my strawberry shortcake is no beauty queen. Don't serve this to people you want to impress, like a co-op board you're petitioning, or your future mother-in-law. Everybody else is fair game, though, and they'll thank you for it.

Preparation: 1 hour | Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 8
Sponge cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk


  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh (small) strawberries, hulled but whole
Whipped cream
  • 500 mL (roughly 2 cups) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Cooking Directions:
  1. Wash and hull all your strawberries. Set aside 1 cup of small berries for the top; slice the rest into thin slices. Toss the sliced berries in a bowl with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9" round baking pans lightly with canola oil and set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a larger mixing bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Beat together with a handheld mixture on medium speed, for 2-3 minutes until it becomes "crumbly." Beat in eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined, then beat in vanilla.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three parts and the milk in two, alternating between the two (starting and ending with flour.) Beat on low until each portion is thoroughly combined with the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
  6. Divide the batter between the two greased pans, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or spatula to make it an even thickness (you want it as flat as possible). Place in the pre-heated oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes away clean. Remove from oven. Cool 15-20 on the counter before turning out on baking racks. Cool a further 45 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, in a large chilled mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat with a handheld mixer on high until it has thickened and doubled in volume. Reduce speed to medium and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  8. Place one layer of sponge cake on a cake stand (preferably one with a raised edge, since it's a messy cake with potential for spillage). Spread half the whipped cream over the top, leaving a half inch around the edge of the cake. Smooth the top of the cream, then make a shallow divot into the middle (so the berries will pool, rather than spill.)
    Next, stir the berries then spread all three cups of sliced berries over the whipped cream. THERE WILL BE SPILLAGE. It can't be avoided.
    Place the second layer of sponge cake on top of the berries. Spread the remaining half of the whipped cream on top, all the way to the edges. Top with the cup of whole, small strawberries - I apply them "by hand" in that I scoop up a handful and drop them on top. But you can be more artsy if you like. 

Like I said: NOT a beauty queen. But she wins the taste test every time.