Monday, April 5, 2010
My Traditional Un-traditional Strawberry Shortcake
As time passes I start to notice some things about traditional cooking, or more specifically my family's traditional cooking. For example, I remember being in High School Art class one day back in late 80s and for some reason my group got on the subject of meatloaf. Yes...meatloaf. Anyway, we were talking about it, and I made the comment about how I "like the hot dogs in it best." Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, "Hot dogs? There are no hot dogs in meat loaf." It was at that moment that I realized that you can grow up doing something, or in this case, eating something that you think is the "norm" and is exactly what everyone else does, when it is not.
I grew up eating my grandmother's meatloaf that she made not in a bread pan but in a roasting pan, shaped in a long loaf shape with 2 or 3 hot dogs lined up in the middle, so when you sliced it, you would have one slice of hot dog right in the center. I don't know if she did this on her own, learned it from her mother, or if it was a recipe she picked up elsewhere. To me it was the norm...as far as meatloaf goes.
Now you are asking yourself, why am I talking about meatloaf in a blog about strawberry shortcake? Because that was the first food I found out that was my traditional/non-traditional food...strawberry shortcake is another.
In recent years I have seen Strawberry Shortcakes in bakeries and grocery stores that look like a stack of pancakes with cream in between and strawberries on top (or those little spongy cups that you always see laid out next to the strawberries), but that is not my definition of a Strawberry Shortcake. My grandmother would make hers from a basic yellow layer cake recipe that was a bit firmer then a regular layer cake--closer to the texture of a pound cake but not quite. Spring is my favorite time of year to make this as you can find huge boxes of some beautiful berries in your local market right now. I bought a 2lb box this week and set to making a cake this weekend.
This is the recipe I use:
Basic Yellow Cake for Strawberry Shortcake
3/4c butter or margarine softened (I use unsalted butter because I prefer natural ingredients)
1 2/3c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 c sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3c milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 c sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9" round layer pans.
Beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl.
Sift the dry ingredients together. Add to the butter mixture alternately with the milk beat until smooth after each addition.
Pour the batter into the pans. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks to cool completely.
The assembly of the cake is a bit different too. Take the bowl you are going to make the topping in and place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes. A chilled bowl will help the cream thicken faster. Whip the cream on high slowly adding the sugar little by little. Continue to whip until the cream is a firm spreadable consistency. If you don't whip it enough it will slide off your cake, too much and it will start to turn to butter.
Place your first layer top side down on the plate. Spoon on a little of the cream and then place slices of the strawberries into the cream.
When your layer is filled with as much strawberries as you would like add more cream over the top and spread it evenly but not too thickly.
Add your final layer and spread with the remaining cream, cover the top and sides.
Select one or two of your prettiest berries and leaving them whole, place them in the center. Slice more strawberries and arrange them on the top and sides of your cake. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.
Slice and enjoy! (Be sure and refrigerate any leftovers!)