Of all the cakes I have ever eaten or baked in my life, this strawberry shortcake is the best! This recipe of my mother’s is indescribably delicious. Of all my mother, Shirley’s cake recipes, this was her person favorite! It was a family tradition for my mother to bake this strawberry shortcake every year for our annual Father’s Day barbecue. Everyone waited for my mother to bring this masterpiece of a cake to the table. When I got married, I started to bake this cake. At my beautiful daughter Randi’s first birthday party, I actually baked three of these cakes because we had quite a crowd of people. Anyway, this cake is so beautiful and so delicious that it could win any first place prize at a country fair. The layers are light and airy and so delicious. The filling, which is just whipped cream and sugar with some fresh strawberries and crushed pineapple is dreamy. Of all my mother, Shirley’s cake recipes, this was her person favorite! After my father died, I rarely baked it, and my mother often commented that she wished I would. Now, I’m sorry I didn’t do that for my mother!
for the cake:
- 1 cup cake flour (sift first, then measure)
- 6 extra large eggs at room temperature, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (1/2 cup and 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons cold water
for the filling and the frosting:
- 1 1/2 pints heavy or whipping cream
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 quarts strawberries
- 1 16 oz. can of crushed pineapple in its natural juice , drained very well
to make the cake: (You can make the layers in advance and freeze them!)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. I use 2 round 9 inch baking pans with removable bottoms. If you don’t have that type of pan, then place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of your 8 or 9 inch round pans. Do not grease the pans!
Separate the eggs. Set aside. Sift and measure the cake flour. Put it into a mixing bowl with the salt and baking powder, which you mix with a fork or whisk just to evenly distribute the baking powder and salt.
Beat egg yolks in large bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high until they have thickened are are pale yellow-about 5 minutes. Add the cold water and vanilla; beat again until thick -about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar; beat again for another minute. Add the flour mixture on very low speed just until mixed in. Set aside.
In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on highest speed just until they form soft peaks. Then add the other 1/2 cup suar and mix 30 seconds more until they just start to form stiff peaks. Gently, fold the meringue (the beaten egg whites with sugar) gently into the flour and egg yolk batter with a rubber spatula until you can’t see the whites anymore. Be patient while you do this; it takes about 5 minutes. Pour the batter into the two ungreased pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the center of the oven until cake springs back when you touch it, the cake has started to separate from the sides, and it is slightly browned on top.
Cool cakes on wire racks. When cool, take cakes out of pans by running a knife around the edges of each pan. If you are using pans with removable sides, then remove the sides and run a sharp non-serrated knife under the cake to separate it from the pan.
Let cool completely. Then slice each layer in half horizontally using a good serrated knife so that you have four layers. You may either wrap the layers well and freeze them to use in the future, or you can just wrap them well, and refrigerate them until you are ready to assemble the cake.
to assemble the cake:
Drain the pineapple very well by putting it in a sieve, and pressing the juice out of it with a spoon. Set drained pineapple aside. Then wash the strawberries. Place them on paper towels to let them dry. Cut the green tops off them. Reserve enough of the prettiest berries to place whole on top of the cake (about 1/2 quart or 1 pint). Then slice the remaining strawberries and set aside in a bowl. Place the whisk attachment or your beaters in the freezer along with the bowl you will be whipping the cream in and the spatula you will be using. Let those stay in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Put the cream in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then take everything out of the freezer. Pour the cream into the bowl. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the sugar in with the cream. Put the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on the highest setting, and beat. After about 45 seconds, pour the remaining sugar in. Continue beating until the cream is whipped. It should not be liquidy or loose at all at this point.
Place one cake layer on a pedestal serving dish that is large enough to hold it. Spread some whipped cream on the layer, about 1/4 inch high. Then sprinkle about 1/3 of the sliced strawberries on the layer. Place the second layer on top of the fruit. Spread more whipped cream on the second layer. Evenly distribute all the crushed pineapple and some of the sliced strawberries on top of the whipped cream. Place the third layer on top of the fruit. Spread whipped cream on top of the cake. Evenly distribute the remaining sliced strawberries over the whipped cream. Place the final (fourth) layer on top of the fruit. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and on the sides of the cake. Then place the whole strawberries all over the top of the cake. The pointy side of the berries should be on top. Refrigerate until you serve the cake.
Note #1: If you find you don’t have enough whipped cream to frost the sides of the cake, leave the sides alone, and the cake will look beautiful that way as well.
Note #2: If you are baking the layers and freezing them to use at a later time, wrap them separately first in a good layer of plastic wrap, and then place each layer in a good ziploc plastic bag.