japanese strawberry shortcake

The first time I saw this recipe, I was so intrigued by it I wanted to make the cake immediately. Unfortunately, I did not have strawberries, and I did not have the time.

Then I realised that the recipe was a little more complicated than I had thought it to be. So in the end, I actually watched the video about 5 times before I made this cake.

I can’t say it is a difficult cake to make. It is just that the Japanese are generally so methodical in how they do everything and I wanted to be sure that I followed the instructions correctly.

To start, I placed the eggs and sugar in a heat-proof bowl over a ban-marie or a warm water bath. I whisked the eggs and sugar with a hand whisk until the mixture had reached body temperature. (Dip your clean fingers into the mixture to check periodically.)

Once that happened, I transferred the mixture into my mixing bowl and whisked the mixture on HIGH until it became very light and pale, and has roughly tripled in volume (this may take a while, especially if you are using a hand-held electric mixer).

It took my bench-top mixer about 15-20 minutes. If you are unsure if the mixture is pale enough, keep mixing.

The flour was added in 3 batches, and I used a hand whisk to cut the flour into the mixture. BE GENTLE.

Then the cooled melted butter was added to the batter and I used a spatula to fold it in. BE GENTLE!

The batter was poured into the lined and greased baking tin from a height of about 30 centimetres.

Yes, you heard me right.

Just do it. I am sure there is a good reason for doing this.

No, I do not know why.

Scrape all batter at the end and add this to the side of the pan. I guess this helps to prevent a dome from forming.

For all you people out there who like baking cakes as much as I do, domes on cakes are just, well, totally undesirable.

You almost want to spit the word out. DOME. *PUI*

I lifted the pan and dropped it twice so the bigger air bubbles could escape.

Then I baked the cake.

Once done, I inverted the cake and cooled it with the pan covering the cake.

Again, I do not know why we need to do this.

But you know, when one is making a Japanese cake, it really pays to listen to the Japanese.

I made a light and fluffy cake.

And there was not a dome in sight!

I wrapped the cake in cling film, and kept it in the fridge as I did not have time to complete the cake that night.

The next morning, I made the rum syrup. All I did was to melt the sugar in the hot water, then added the rum.

This was set aside to cool.

In the meantime, I made the cream.

In a metal bowl, I added the whipping cream, caster sugar, vanilla extract and more rum!

I love this cake already. 🙂

Dutifully, I followed instructions. I set the bowl over a cold water bath, and started whisking with a hand whisk.

After 10 minutes, the cream looked like this.

At this stage, I was ready to tear my hair out.

THIS AIN’T GOING TO WORK!!

It was going to take way, way, way too long.

I am sorry, dear Japanese recipe writers.

I am a little impatient.

Just a little.

So, I turned to Plan B.

Out came my electric hand-held whisk.

And it took me all of 10 minutes to produce this.

Thank you, my husband, for buying me the whisk!!

To assemble the cake (FINALLY!!), I sliced the cake horizontally into 2 halves.

Then I brushed on half the syrup.

And slathered on the cream.

The strawberries were hulled and halved, and then placed onto the cream.

I brushed the syrup on the other half of the cake and the placed it onto the first half.

Then I slathered the entire thing with cream.

And decorated the top of the cake as best as I could.

NOTE: I had whipped the cream earlier and kept it in the fridge to chill. I forgot to whip the cream again just before I frosted the cake, hence the result was not as pretty as it should have been. Also, because the whipped cream melts pretty fast, you will need to work very quickly or return the partially-frosted cake to the fridge to chill before continuing to frost.

RECIPE
Japanese Strawberry Shortcake (Serves 6-8)
Adapted from Ochikeron and The Little Teochew

*NOTE: This recipe makes one 6″ cake.

Ingredients:
For the Cake:
2 eggs, room temperature
60g caster sugar
60g cake flour, sifted
20g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Syrup:
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
20ml very hot water
1 tsp rum (I use Bacardi rum)
NOTE: I made double this amount for my cake. We prefer a moister cake.

For the Cream:
300ml dairy whipping cream (I used President)
1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum (I use Bacardi rum) or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla beans

For the Filling/Decoration:
250g fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Method:
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).
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.
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!).