When most people think of strawberry shortcake, they think of a white sponge cake layered with strawberries and whipped cream. And, if we lived in Japan, they would be correct. However, a true “strawberry shortcake” actually uses a crumbly, biscuit-like cake as the base. Still, most grocery stores will mass-produce sponge cakes with strawberries and whipped cream and still call them strawberry shortcakes.
I’m better than that, though. So, this recipe is not for a strawberry shortcake. It is a recipe for a strawberry CREAM cake. That is, a sponge cake that is layered with cream and strawberries. And, since it’s not a shortcake, I can also take the liberty of filling the center with pastry cream, rather than the traditional whipped cream. If you prefer the whipped cream, then have at it. I suggest you try it at least once with the pastry cream, though. I’ve broken the recipe up into two posts, since it’s a bit long.
So, we start by making the pastry cream.
Aside from the vanilla bean, the ingredients are stuff that most people already have on-hand. Make sure you use whole milk. Trust me.
The milk and sugar go in a saucepan and onto the stove. Split your vanilla bean lengthwise and throw it in as well. Make sure you scrape all of the seeds into the milk, then start heating it up.
Meanwhile, your flour and egg yolks get beaten until they are creamy.
Once the milk starts simmering, you can remove it from the heat.
Little by little, pour the hot milk mixture into your egg mixture, whisking constantly. Don’t add too much at once, unless you want scrambled eggs.
Once you’ve added about half of the milk mixture in there, you can pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk. Then, it goes back on the stove.
Cook the mixture on medium to medium-high until it starts to boil, stirring or whisking the entire time. Then, boil for about a minute, then remove it from the heat.
Remove your pan from the heat, add the butter, and whisk until all of the butter is melted and incorporated. At this point, it might also be a good idea to strain the cream.
Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap and allow to cool completely before refrigerating. Make sure that the plastic wrap touches the surface of the pastry cream. This keeps it from forming a skin.
You can make the pastry cream the day before you make the cake and have it ready, and it keeps for about a week in the refrigerator. It also works great as a filling for donuts, fruit tarts, or cream puffs.
The next post will show how to make and assemble the cake. So, stay tuned!
For the Pastry Cream recipe, visit Allrecipes.com.