As most of you frequent visitors know, when it’s my friends’ birthdays, they get to choose what I make for their special day. Today was Ally’s birthday; she requested Japanese strawberry shortcake and supplied this recipe link.
Ally is a good friend. She doesn’t mind when Wildlands is all crazy; she’s often comes over to entertain me when I’m in the middle of some house or garden mayhem and madness. However, Ally is a foodie. She writes a food blog called A Girl and Her Fork. A week ago when I was telling her about Ms. Sarah’s birthday cake, she asked me if I am ever nervous about making a treat for someone without having used the recipe previously. Sometimes, I do a trial run, I told her, but ultimately, I rely upon the science of baking to see me through. That’s part of my baking niche— folks request a cake/cookie/sweet treat that their mom/grandma/favorite relative made. Sometimes they supply a recipe, sometimes they don’t. These special requests weren’t nerve-wracking until today.
I followed the recipe and did not make any alterations for the sponge cake. That went well and was easy enough. A bit wonky to whip egg whites and then add egg yolks, but OK. With the sponge cake in the oven, I turned my attention to the reinforced whipped cream. I make this fairly frequently and it went off without a hitch. I did not use the recipe supplied in the link above for neither the whipped cream nor the simple syrup.
Now, the strawberries—they were a bit of a problem. I checked several stores yesterday, hunting for fresh strawberries. While I found strawberries, they were hard and scentless. This morning, I purchased frozen strawberries, defrosted those and found myself beginning to panic when I realized there was absolutely no way I was going to use those things for Ally’s birthday cake.Yuck.
From the chest freezer, I snagged a bag of strawberries I’d stashed away this summer. I placed the strawberries into a saucepan on low flame. The quality difference between mine and store-bought were night and day. Phew. I strained them, reserving the simple strawberry syrup, and allowed them to cool. Once cool, I sliced them, picked out a few for the garnish, and began assembling the cake.
Down went the sponge cake, brushed on the strawberry simple syrup, then a thin layer of whipped cream, cut strawberries, and another layer of thin whipped cream. I placed the second layer on top, more syrup, and a thin outer coating of whipped cream. Into the fridge it went to set up.
In the meantime, I returned the remaining berries to the saucepan with 1/4 c. of the reserved syrup. Once simmering, I used the immersion blender to create a chunky style strawberry jam glaze. I didn’t add any additional flavorings—the strawberries, frozen at the height of summer, were delightfully perfect. Yum.
I allowed this to cool to room temperature before retrieving the cake out of the fridge. I smoothed out the frosting and made a slight well on top of the cake. Into this well, I placed the strawberry jam glaze.
Placing the whipped cream into a pastry bag outfitted with a large star tip, I finished up the decoration…
And then, off to Ms. Ally’s we went. Her grin said it all. While I could use a bit of practice with the sponge cake (it was a smidge too dense, and I do mean, just a smidge), she was really pleased.
And that made me pleased. This dessert is not overly sweet thanks to the Japanese sponge cake and the whipped cream. Minimal sugar in the strawberry jam glaze allowed the strawberries to shine. I’m not a fan of sweet sweet treats and found this to be lovely.
Happy Birthday, Ally!