Birthdays need cake. Special birthdays need special cake. This year my boyfriend’s mother celebrated what will henceforth be known as her Diamond Jubilee with an unforgettable surprise birthday party, complete with a surprise VW beetle convertible and tickets to the Kentucky Derby. The biggest surprise, however, was her daughter and granddaughter arriving home to Texas an entire month early from Oman. This strawberry shortcake, made at the request of one very surprised birthday lady, was two layers of strawberry summer decadence, a delicious and familiar end to a distinctly surprising and celebratory evening. Use this one to say Happy Birthday and Happy Summer.
Birthday Shortcake with Fresh Strawberries and Cream, The Perfect Finish by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark
for the shortcake
1 cup flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 almond paste
4 eggs, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
for the whipped cream
1 pint heavy cream
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
for the topping and filling
2 pints fresh strawberries, green hulls cut off (~5 cups) and sweetened with superfine sugar to taste
for the shortcake
Step 1: Use the butter to grease and 8-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a parchment circle cut to size, and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Sift the flour onto a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
Step 3: Using a electric mixer, mix the almond paste and powdered sugar together until the mixture becomes smooth.
Step 4: Add the eggs to almond mixture one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Ensure each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Add the yolks in the same way and then beat for 10-15 minutes until thoroughly combined, well aerated, and smooth. Sprinkle the flour over the batter and fold it in gently by hand. Fold in the melted butter.
Step 5: Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (45-50 minutes). Cool the cake on a wire rack 15 minutes before unmolding, removing parchment, and allowing to cool completely.
for the whipped cream and cake assembly
Step 1: Slice the cooled cake in half horizontally and place one layer cut side up on a serving platter.
Step 2: Whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
Step 3: Spoon half whipped cream onto the bottom layer of the cake. Place half of the strawberries, tightly spaced, over the cream.
Step 4: Place the other cake half, cut side up again, on top of the strawberries, making sure the sides are well aligned, and press down very gently.
Step 5: Spoon the remaining whipped cream onto the top layer and top with the rest of the strawberries. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.