The Cake Therapist: Strawberry Shortcut Cake with Basil Whipped Cream

Doesn't this look delicious?

A really good strawberry shortcake is one of the delights of summer. 

You can make it patriotic, for the Fourth of July, with the addition of blueberries.

And you can make it taste really wonderful with basil-infused whipped cream, which is easy to do. You just warm cream, add basil leaves, cover and let the basil infuse with the cream. Strain out the leaves, chill the cream, then whip it when you're ready to serve.

I have never been a big fan of biscuit-like shortcake, which either goes dry or soggy way too easily. When my sister Julie Fox sent me this shortcut cake recipe, adapted from one by Paul and Gina Neely, I was eager to to try it after she described how easy the spongy yellow cake was to cut in half and how delicious the strawberries were with it. A little hint of fresh basil in the whipped cream makes it all come together.

Strawberry Shortcut Cake with Basil Whipped Cream
Adapted from Bake Happy (Running Press, 2015)
Makes 1 (8-inch) cake
Basil Whipped Cream:
1/4 cup (30 g) packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup (250 ml) heavy or whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Shortcut Cake:
1 cup (125 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (170 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Rosy Strawberry Filling:
1 pound (500 g) fresh strawberries (reserve 5 berries for garnish)
1 cup bottled strawberry syrup
2 teaspoons rosewater 
Fresh basil or other herb leaves, for garnish
For the Basil Whipped Cream, combine the basil leaves and cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat until bubbles form around the perimeter of the pan. Remove from the heat, cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Strain out the basil leaves and refrigerate the flavored cream until ready to whip.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan. Line it with a parchment paper circle, butter the paper, and dust the pan with flour. Tap out the excess flour.

For the Shortcut Cake, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the butter, egg, milk, and vanilla until almost smooth (there can be small lumps). Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Rosy Strawberry Filling, set aside 5 strawberries for the garnish. Hull and chop the remaining strawberries finely. Heat the syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbling at the edges. Add the strawberries and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the berries are slightly warm and glisten. Stir in the rosewater. If you like, you can mash them a little bit. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

To assemble the cake, cut the cake in half horizontally, using a serrated knife. Begin to cut the cake in half until you reach the center of the cake, then turn it a quarter turn and keep cutting and turning until you reach your original cut mark. Use the knife to help separate the layers. 

Place the bottom layer, cut side up, on a cake plate. Spread with the strawberry mixture. Top with the remaining layer, cut-side down. Arrange the strawberry garnish on top of the cake.

Whip the flavored cream with confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form.  Dollop the whipped cream on each slice and garnish with fresh basil or other herb leaves.

And where do you find a novel to read and more delicious, aromatic, colorful, happy recipes to enjoy?

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