In hotel school, ‘shortcake’ was really a glorious, layered butter cake, along with some simple syrup, sliced fresh berries, and a custard and cream filling, aka crème legere. It was fancy but easy and it makes a fine company dessert when I want something that is not cheesecake, not chocolate, not difficult, and pretty as a spring bouquet. This recipe features a cupcake batter layer cake, with a special cream filling, berries and a shower of white chocolate curls. Gorgeous. (Photo illustrates a decorating version of the cake but recipe instructions differ slightly; feel free to decorate the cake as you wish - two layers, or three and various finishing touches.
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 drops each, lemon and almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/3 cup warm milk
1 recipe homemade pastry cream or 1 package instant vanilla pudding
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pint fresh strawberries and/or raspberries mixed with 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (crushed by hand)
1/3 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon strawberry or cherry extract
4-6 strawberries, sliced and fanned out
White Chocolate Shavings
Line a 9 inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper. Generously spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a mixer or a food processor, blend the butter until light and fluffy. Add in sugar and beat well. Add eggs and extracts. Mix dry ingredients together and fold into batter, alternating with milk. Blend on slow speed to combine, scraping down bowl sides and bottom often. Blend until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Spoon batter into pan and bake until done or until cake springs back when lightly touched with fingertips, 50-60 minutes.
For the filling, in a small bowl, crush raspberries by hand slightly and mix with confectioners’ sugar.
For the Cream Filling, first prepare the pastry cream or instant pudding according to package instructions. Chill while preparing whipped cream. Whip the whipping cream in a mixer with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold into the pastry cream and chill again.
Prepare the Simple Syrup by simmering the water and sugar in a small saucepan for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature and stir in strawberry or cherry extract.
To assemble the cake, split the chilled cake in three horizontally. On the bottom layer, smear on some simple syrup, then a thin layer of jam, then a thin coating of cream filling. Place second cake layer on top and smear that with simple syrup, half of the cream filling and top with the crushed berries. Gently press the final cake layer gently on filling. Brush with simple syrup and then garnish with whipped cream rosettes or dust with confectioners’ sugar or curls of white chocolate. Position 4 strawberries, sliced horizontally so they fan out (keep hulls on) at the four points of the cake (they sit in the whipped cream).
Chill a few hours before serving.
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