Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Summertime. Children running through sprinklers; teenagers jumping from tire swings into lakes; grandparents quenching their thirst with a glass of sweet tea while rocking on their porch.  These are all images of a perfect summer or at least the ones I see on TV.

However, I am a city girl. So this is not my idea of summer. I do not have an aunt or grandmother with a farm upstate. One where we would go and pick strawberries that she would bake into a fabulous cake.

This may explain why in my 41 years, I never had a strawberry shortcake. Sure I see them spinning in cases in the diner, looking like a Wayne Thiebaud painting.

But no one really eats those do they? Well I guess they must or why would they have them. Unless it is the same cake just revolving there for years like fruitcakes at Christmas that keep getting re-gifted but never eaten.

Anyway, at this time of year, I have been bombarded with emails describing how to make a perfect strawberry shortcake. So I became intrigued.

What is strawberry shortcake exactly? Is it worth all this fuss? What I have learned is that there are several variations on what I thought was a standard.

Classic strawberry shortcake is made with a biscuit. Diner strawberry shortcake is made with angel food or sponge cake. Some strawberry shortcake’s are made with pound cake, as I chose to do. Others are made into a trifle.

And the answer to “Is it worth all this fuss?” is a resounding YES. Strawberry shortcake is largely underrated. I mean you can’t go into a Michelin 3-star restaurant and order it. However, think about it. Whipped cream, strawberries, pound cake. Hello?! Yum!

Strawberry Shortcake

Yields One 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch cake, 8 to 10 servings

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Adapted from Ina Garten’s Plain Pound Cake

For the cake:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange extract

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups flour mix C

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup heavy cream


For the Whipped Cream Frosting:

Adapted from Wayne Harley Brachman‘s Diner-Style Strawberry Shortcake

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup confectioners' sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the strawberries:

16 ounces strawberries

1/4 cup sugar



    For the cake:
  1. Position rack in the LOWER THIRD of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, combine the vanilla, lemon or orange extract, and buttermilk.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for at least 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl. Add 1 cup sugar and mix for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl.
  5. Place a bowl with the cream and the beaters in the freezer.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix each egg until combined and then for a minute more. Scrape down the bowl.
  7. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl after each addition. Note: You have to be careful not to “over” mix when using wheat flour. If you activate too much gluten, your cake will be tough. However, over mixing is not an issue when you use gluten-free flours. There is no gluten to over activate!
  8. Remove the cream and beaters from the freezer and whip only until soft peaks form. DO NOT OVERWHIP. Tip: Use a low speed on your electric mixer.
  9. Gently fold the whipped cream into the batter.
  10. Pour the batter into the pan. Bang down the pan a few times to level the batter and burst any air bubbles.
  11. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Tent it loosely with foil after 45 minutes so the top does not burn. The cake is done when you press the cake lightly with your finger and it springs back. Tip: If you are not sure if the cake is done, leave it a little longer. It is better to "over" bake a bit than "under" bake.
  12. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Then unmold the cake and wrap the hot cake in foil for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.
  13. For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
  14. In a medium heatproof mixing bowl, stir together the gelatin and 1/4 cup of the cream. Let stand for about 5 minutes to soften.
  15. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to lukewarm. Note: Only cool until lukewarm. If the mixture gets too cool, the gelatin will solidify. If this happens, do not panic. Just reheat it until it is liquid again.
  16. While the gelatin mixture is cooling, start the whipped cream. In a large bowl, whip the cream until slightly thickened. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and whip until soft peaks form. DO NOT OVERWHIP. Tip: Use a low speed on your hand mixer.
  17. Fold 1/4 of the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture, then fold in the rest.
  18. To assemble:
  19. Slice the small strawberries in half and the big ones in quarters. Place them in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup sugar. Stir with a spatula until all the berries are covered. Let stand at least 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  20. Make the Whipped Cream Frosting.
  21. Unwrap the pound cake. Take a serrated knife and cut the cake into two layers. You can also cut off the top if you want a flat top but be sure to make that cut first. Your layers will be more even if you do.
  22. Lay half the sliced berries over the bottom layer. Spoon on a little of the berry juice that has now accumulated in the bowl.
  23. Spread a 1/2-inch layer of whipped cream on top.
  24. Place on the top layer and frost the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream. Pat dry the remaining berries and use them to decorate the top of the cake.

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26 thoughts on “Strawberry Shortcake

  1. I have been craving the taste of this cake for a two weeks now. None of the bakeries I know capture the taste. What's your secret????
  2. I've been deprived of strawberry shortcake, too, but your cake made up for my loss. Another clear winner!

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