Strawberry Shortcake With a Twist...

I recently had a request for strawberry shortcake for a party.  I think about strawberry shortcake and get flashes about dry store-bought angel food cake, cool whip, and strawberries; all of which seem to be a recurring nightmare in my neck of the woods.  I am not a cool whip girl, it freaks me out.  Plus the whole angel food cake thing lacks texture and flavor and moisture...

With all this on my mind, I got a little crazy.  Okay, maybe a lot crazy, and I whipped up a glorious version that will take your taste buds to new heights.  I started with an almost pound cake make from scratch with farm fresh eggs.  Then I added homemade vanilla pastry cream to the mix, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream piped onto the cake for frosting.

It was to die for.

And I ate a lot of it.

I am NOT telling you how much of it I ate, but I will say this, it makes a wonderful weekend morning breakfast...

This is what hot yoga is for: getting rid of strawberry shortcake thighs!

This recipe has a lot of steps.  Don't be scared.  Start with the cake and make it a day or even two days in advance.  Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap after it has cooled.  The pastry cream can be made the day before, just whip it to loosen it up before you spread it.  Plus the flavors get fab if you let it sit overnight.  So really, the only thing you need to do the day of is whip the cream and assemble.  Easy peesy...

backyard farmgals

1 butter cake (see recipe below)
1 batch of pastry cream (see recipe below)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 pound organic strawberries, sliced

To assemble:

Whip the heavy cream to almost soft peaks.  Add 1/8 cup powdered sugar and vanilla.  Whip until almost stiff peaks form, so that the whipping cream is stiff enough to pipe onto the cake.

Slice the butter cake into two layers, place the bottom layer on a cake stand or serving tray.  Spread pastry cream on the bottom layer, top with 1/2 of the sliced strawberries.  Place the top layer of cake on the strawberries.  Pipe whipping cream generously on the top in the pattern you like.  (I used a half inch round tip and piped little dollops all over the top of the cake.)  Place a mound of sliced strawberries in the middle of the cream.  The remaining strawberries can be added to slices of cake as they are served.  

This cake can be refrigerated after it is served... then eaten shamelessly for breakfast the next day!

Butter Cake
Miette Bakery Cookbook

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
10 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Liberally butter a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with flour.  Tap out the excess flour.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and the sugar and beat on medium speed until light colored and fluffy, 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the egg yolks in three additions, beating until completely combined after each addition, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding more yolks.  Raise the speed to high and beat for 30 seconds to fully combine.

In a bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the buttermilk mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  After each addition, beat until just combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then fold in by hand with the spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  About 40 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.  When the cake is cooled enough to handle, but the pan is still warm to touch, carefully run an offset spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen, then invert the cake onto a rack and remove the pan.  When cool enough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate to make sure the center is cooled, at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Pastry Cream 
Martha Stewart Living

2 cups whole milk or half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean.

Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter, and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed until smooth (you can also whisk by hand).


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