This post is dedicated to my sister. She’s a bit of a strawberry shortcake fanatic.
When we were growing up, our mother would always bake us the cake (or cupcake, or pie) of our choosing for our birthday (thanks, mom!). Every year for as long as I can remember my sister chose something with strawberries, and it was usually this shortcake. Her birthday is in June, which is peak strawberry season in Vermont. How could she resist their sweet temptation?
My birthday is in May, and we were lucky if the snow had melted by then (!). Forget about having some beautifully vibrant, sweet, and juicy fruit to add to my birthday cake. During a good year, a few daffodils may have popped up through the snow and my mom would use them to decorate my chocolate layer cake.
We’re starting to see these deep red and luscious berries already here in North Carolina, and pretty soon they’ll be seen everywhere, overflowing from their containers, just begging to be taken home in my grocery cart (or farmer’s market basket). I thought it was only appropriate to kick off the season with a classic shortcake, and I turned to my mom’s tried and true version. There are so many things to love about this recipe.
There is no need for a mixer – just a couple of bowls and a spatula. Yay for simplicity!
The butter is melted meaning that I don’t need to remember to leave a stick of butter out to come to room temperature. A seemingly simple task which, of course, I can’t master.
The texture is perfection: it’s light and fluffy yet solid enough to hold up to the strawberries and whipped cream, and it remains moist and tender for several days if kept in an airtight container.
You can prepare the entire cake by cutting it in half, filling it and topping it with strawberries and whipped cream, or you can do what we did and just cut pieces of the cake as you want them and prepare them to order.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced (you should have about four cups of sliced berries)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, or more to taste
Butter an 8 x 8 pan, and preheat oven to 400 ° F. Gently toss the sliced berries with 1/2 cup of sugar. Allow to sit at room temperature until juicy.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, mix together the milk, egg, and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the liquid mixture, stirring gently until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to rest until cool enough to handle. Carefully remove it from the pan and cool completely on a cooling rack.
To serve, slice the cake in half with a serrated knife to create two layers. Cover the bottom layer with half of the berries and whipped cream. Repeat for the top layer, an enjoy!