If you think this is anything like the classic (American) Strawberry Shortcake, you will be disappointed. Somehow the name is lost in translation when it travels across the Pacific to Japan. The Japanese Strawberry Shortcake is in fact really just a simple Strawberry Sponge Cake! It is a very common and popular cake in Japan and there is nothing short, as in texture, about it at all. Other than strawberries, you can use other fruit such as blueberries or peaches to make Japanese Blueberry or Peach Shortcake.
Makes one 20cm cake
4 eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon salt
120g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
20g (1 tablespoon) butter
60ml (3 tablespoons) hot water
Filling & Cream:
2 quantities Crème Chantilly
250g (1 punnet) strawberries
Note: Normally for this cake, there is a simple sugar syrup which is used to brush on each layer of the cake when doing the filling. However I decided against using it to reduce the sweetness and also with so much cream being used as filling and frosting, I thought that would make the cake moist enough without the sugar syrup!
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm x 6cm deep round cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Sift cake flour and baking powder three times; set aside. Add hot water to butter and stir until butter has melted; set aside.
2. Beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks formed. Then start adding sugar gradually, one tablespoon at a time, as you continue to beat the egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks formed.
3. Add egg yolks to the stiffly beaten egg whites and beat to combine. Beat in vanilla.
4. Sift the flour mixture in about 3 to 4 batches onto the egg mixture. Fold in with a big metal spoon after sifting in each batch of flour mixture. Once all the flour is folded in, pour the melted butter and hot water mixture along the outer edges of the mixing bowl and fold in until thoroughly combined; do this as lightly and quickly as you can.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and give the tin a sharp tap on the bench to get rid of any large bubbles in the batter. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until cooked.
6. Remove from oven and give the tin another tap on the bench. Wait 5 minutes, turn out and remove the lining paper. Immediately turn right side up on to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Assembling the Cake:
1. Split the cake horizontally into 3 even layers (pic #4). Reserve a few strawberries for decoration and cut them in half; slice the rest thinly. (As some of the strawberries in the punnet were quite large, I managed to cut each into 6 slices.)
2. Spread a thin layer of crème chantilly onto the bottom cake layer. Arrange the sliced strawberry on top of the cream (pic #5), then spread another thin layer of crème chantilly over the strawberries (pic #6). Place the middle cake layer on top and repeat with the layering of the cream and strawberries filling. Finally place the last cake layer neatly on top (pic #7).
3. Use most of the unused crème chantilly to ice the sides and top of the cake. Put any remaining crème chantilly into a piping bag fixed with a star nozzle and pipe decoratively over the cake. Arrange halved strawberries on top as decoration. (I coloured a little of the crème chantilly with the red Strawberry Paste to pipe along the base of the cake.)
Taste: Classic pairing of delicious strawberries and cream in a fluffy sponge cake
Consume: Best consumed on the same day that cake is filled; sponge cake itself can be made a day earlier and kept chilled in an airtight container overnight
Storage: Not suitable
Recipe Reference(s): ‘Very Berry Shortcake’ recipe by Koyama Susumu 小山進 from his cookbook ‘The Sweet Trick 好吃的西點蛋糕秘訣’