Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sky High Strawberry Shortcake

Happy 4th of July, my American readers, which, I'm going to just assume is the majority of you (if there are international readers out there, I would love to hear from you!). This year is the first year I'll be celebrating the 4th of July without my family, which is a weird prospect for me. It's not that the 4th is a huge deal in my family, it's just that...we've always been together, doing almost the exact same thing, for basically my entire life (save the year we were in Canada for the 4th, but we still watched Canada Day fireworks together over Niagara Falls). 

Here's what always happened: when we were younger, we would go down to the park by the river, either together or with friends, and play silly carnival games, pet baby animals, and watch the water ski team do tricks. Then we either attended a party at a house on the river's edge, or, in more recent years, staked out a spot in the park and watched the fireworks over the river. I love fireworks – certain things will never stop being awe-inspiring to me, and the 4th has the added punch of nostalgia. 

Maybe I'll start developing new traditions? Or maybe things will just be eclectic and vary from year to year. Maybe I'll make a massive strawberry shortcake like this one. It's not as big as it looks, since each layer is only 6 inches, but it's still fairly impressive. And way better than those spongy little cups and "non dairy whipped topping" (shiver). 

Sky High Strawberry Shortcake
(I can't get the italics off, guhhhh)
Adapted from Sky-High Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
Makes one 6-inch triple layer cake; serves 8 to 10
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
Lightly Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar 
Fresh Strawberry Filling
2 pints strawberries, small if possible, about 1/2 pint reserved for garnish
1 teaspoon of rosewater or 1 tablespoon anisette liqueur 
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
For the Cake Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottoms and sides of three 6-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottom with a round of parchment of waxed paper and then grease with butter.
In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or electric hand mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add dry ingredients to the batter, alternating with buttermilk in 2 to 3 additions. When mixing, do not let the mixer exceed medium speed (unless using a low-power hand-held mixer). This will ensure that gluten does not form, and you have a soft airy cake. Divide patter evenly among three prepared cake pans.
Bake cakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes; invert cakes onto wire racks, carefully peel off parchment and allow cakes to cool completely.
For the Fresh Strawberry Filling & Whipped Cream
Clean and hull strawberries, and slice into pieces about the thickness of a nickel. My berries were really small and compact in the pints, so I stopped slicing when I had about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of berries. Place sliced berries in a bowl and add sugar, rosewater and vanilla. Toss to coat, cover and let berries macerate at room temperature for about an hour.
In a large chilled bowl, with chilled beaters, whip the cream and sugar until stiff. There will be about three cups.
To Assemble
Place one layer on cake stand or serving plate, flat side up. Top with 3/4 cup of strawberry filling, spooning over the entire cake layer, and trying to keep juices from running on the plate. Top with one cup of whipped cream, spreading evenly over berries. Repeat with second layer of cake, 3/4 cup of berries, and 1 cup of whipped cream. Top with remaining layer of cake. Cover with last of the whipped cream and garnish with fresh, whole berries. For best flavor, cover the cake with dome or loose plastic wrap and refrigerate for about two hours before slicing and serving.
Note: I reduced the strawberry filling slightly since I didn’t think the cake needed additional berries spooned over the cake for serving. If you’d like to serve extra sliced berries on the side, increase berries to 2 quarts, rosewater to 2 teaspoons, vanilla to 2 teaspoons and sugar to 1/2 cup.


  1. I make a strawberry cake for my mom ever year...I think I found this year's recipe.


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