Thursday, June 10, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake If You Really Like Cake

I love cake. It's not that I don't enjoy cookies, pie, ice cream and other treats, but I really, really like cake.

When strawberries are at their peak of perfection each year I make every effort to have strawberry shortcake. Some years I go with the cream scone or sweet biscuit type of base but my favorite is always a cake base. The cake soaks up the glorious berry juices and mixes well with rich, freshly-whipped heavy cream and provides another texture as well. Some years if I'm in a hurry I go with a yellow cake mix. Mostly I try out different white or yellow cake recipes. This year I think I've figured out a recipe that will be my go-to for future years when strawberry season rolls around.

My friend Green Thumb was being the hostess for a meeting of the Ways and Means committee. We needed to plan ways to raise money this coming year for scholarships. She had the great idea of serving Strawberry Shortcake, even though we were meeting at 10 am! I guess if we can have strawberries, whipped cream and waffles and call it breakfast that Strawberry Shortcake can be a seasonal coffee cake, too.

She provided the strawberries...those local, sweet, juicy ones, all sliced and ready to go. I provided whipped cream...only the real stuff with fresh strawberries, please...and squares of a moist and buttery buttermilk cake flavored with vanilla and brown sugar. It started as a Dorie recipe but, as is often the case, I played with it so much that she might have trouble recognizing it. I'll give my recipe below and you can check out her recipe for Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake in Baking:from my home to yours and see what changed. The reason I chose to make this cake, aside from the fact that I had buttermilk in the fridge (often I don't) was that I wanted to make a cake with the dry-wet-dry mixing method because I usually like the results.

So we finished our business meeting and then put squares of this springy cake that hinted of brown sugar and lemon into bowls. On top we spooned on generous servings of those sweet berries and their juice. A dollop of whipped cream and a whole strawberry on top finished each serving. This dessert was such a hit that a couple of the ladies who always are careful about what they eat even had seconds!

Try it while strawberry season is here, but remember it will work just as well as a base for sliced fresh peaches, juicy blackberries or blueberries or raspberries or even add some cocoa powder and top with fresh pitted cherries and a swirl of chocolate sauce over the whipped cream for a take on Black Forest cake.

Buttermilk Shortcake Cake
A moist and buttery single layer cake using the dry-wet-dry mixing method
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 egg white
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
grated zest from ½ a lemon
½ cup buttermilk

Butter a 9 inch square baking pan and dust the inside with flour, tapping out any excess. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until sugar is completely blended into the butter.

Add the egg and beat for one minute. Scrape sides of bowl and beater. Add the egg white and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest until incorporated.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 portions and the buttermilk in two (begin and end with dry ingredients). Mix only until each addition is barely blended in to the batter. Scrape down the bowl and take a few turns with the spatula to finish mixing the batter quickly.

Put the batter in the prepared pan and level the top. Place on a baking sheet and put into the preheated oven.

Bake for 25 -30 minutes, or until the cake feels springy to the touch and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer cake to a cooling rack and cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake and turn out onto a plate. Place an inverted plate over the cake and turn right side up. Cool to room temperature.

Cut the cake into 9 squares if using for strawberry shortcake or similar dessert. This cake will keep, wrapped air tight, overnight or you can freeze it for up to 2 months for a quick dessert.


  1. It's early, my Dorie is downstairs. Isn't there supposed to be both baking soda nad baking powder with buttermilk?

    Pfff, why argue with success! Strawberries and whip cream and shortcake, the seasonal coffee cake! That is rich! Really, really rich. Very lovelyly.

  2. Well, Dorie's recipe did have baking powder but I didn't so I added more baking soda. Think buttermilk biscuits. Mine have no baking powder. The crumb is less fine without the baking powder, but still delicious.
    It was rich for coffee cake, but I only do shortcake once or twice a year :)

  3. Yum looks delicious. I love the image of yoiu and your friends sitting eating cake and strawberies in the morning, summer decadence at its best