What Is Japanese Strawberry Shortcake?
Japanese strawberry shortcake is made with moist, light, and fluffy white cake layered with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Every bite is light, creamy, and refreshing, with bursts of sweet tartness from the fresh strawberries.
Japanese strawberry shortcake is especially popular in Japan during the Christmas season. Because of this, the cake sometimes goes by the name “Japanese Christmas Cake” or “kurisumasu keki”. According to blogger Jamie of Drive Me Hungry, its red and white colors represent the colors of Christmas!
Why You Should Make The Recipe
Here are all the reasons to make Japanese strawberry shortcake:
The recipe is small batch.
The handful of Japanese strawberry shortcake recipes online make 8, 9, and even 10-inch cakes! However, my recipe makes a “small batch”, 6-inch version. Cake cutting guides will tell you that 6-inch cakes serve around 8 to 10 people. However, I’ve found that most of the 6-inch cakes I make are easily devoured by a smaller group of 4 to 6 people.
Maybe that’s just my friends and family though, lol.
The white cake base for the Japanese strawberry shortcake comes together easily.
When researching Japanese strawberry shortcake recipes, I noticed that many of them used an advanced pastry technique that involved whipping egg whites separately. They then instructed you to fold the egg whites into the rest of the ingredients. Doing so results in an extremely airy, pillowy, and light-as-a-feather cake.
While I certainly enjoyed these Japanese strawberry shortcake recipes, I wanted to simplify the recipe and make it more attainable for beginner bakers. To do so, I swapped in the white cake recipe from my cookbook, Weeknight Baking. My white cake recipe makes an incredibly moist and light white cake, but without any advanced techniques like folding ingredients or piping batters. It makes a great base cake to pair with the airy whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Now that I’ve convinced you to make Japanese strawberry shortcake, here’s everything you need to make the recipe:
Shopping List For Japanese Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
- cake flour
- granulated sugar
- baking powder
- kosher salt
- unsalted butter
- whole milk
- large eggs
- clear imitation vanilla extract
- heavy cream
- confectioners’ sugar
- pure vanilla extract
- fresh strawberries
And let’s talk about some key ingredients and potential substitutions:
Common Ingredient Substitutions For The Recipe
Here are common substitutions for the ingredients in the recipe:
- All-Purpose Flour. Substitute the all-purpose flour with your favorite 1-1 Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I like the ones by Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Baking Company) to make the recipe gluten-free!
- Kosher Salt. You can replace the kosher salt in the recipe with half its amount in table salt.
- Clear Imitation Vanilla Extract. For this recipe, you’ll need to use clear imitation vanilla extract—it helps keep the cake perfectly white. However, you can use the regular pure vanilla extract if that’s what you have on hand. However, your cake will look more yellow than white.
How To Make The Recipe
Here are the basic steps to make this Japanese strawberry shortcake recipe from scratch:
- Prep the ingredients. (Prep Time: 10 minutes)
- Make the cake batter. (Work Time: 15 minutes)
- Bake the cake layers. (Bake Time: 23 minutes)
- Cool the cake layers completely, then make the whipped cream for the cake. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
- Build the strawberry shortcake layers. (Work Time: 15 minutes)
- Frost the cake. (Work Time: 10 minutes)
Best Recipe Tips
Tip About Baking Equipment
- This recipe requires 3 (6-inch) round cake pans to make the 3-layer cake. If you only have 2 (6-inch) cake pans, no worries! You can still make the recipe. Just note that your layers will be much thicker than mine.
To make the 2-layer version, follow the recipe instructions to make the batter. Divide the batter in half and pour each half into two prepared 6-inch cake pans. If using a digital scale to weigh the layers (see my next note), pour around 12 ounces (340 grams) of batter into each pan.
Tips About Ingredients
- It’s especially important that your butter, milk, and egg whites are warmed to room temperature. The batter will curdle if some of the ingredients are colder than others!
- The weight of the strawberries will vary significantly depending on the type of strawberries you use, what season it is, and other factors. As a result, this is one of the few recipes where I encourage you to use a measuring cup to portion out the fruit for the recipe.
How To Make The Recipe Fit In Your Schedule
- You need to wait for the cake layers to cool completely before assembling the layer cake. If the layers are still warm, they will melt the whipped cream. Your cake will slip, slide, and collapse!
I always like to make the cakes one day ahead of assembling and serving the cake itself. I make the cake layers, let them cool to room temperature, then freeze them overnight. Freezing the cake layers sets me up for success—it locks in the cakes’ moisture and flavor, and frozen cake is always easier to frost in general.
But if you don’t want to make your cakes a day in advance, no worries! Simply follow the instructions to bake and cool the cakes to room temperature. While the cakes are cooling, multitask by prepping the strawberries.
- For even cake layers, I like to actually weigh out the layers with a digital kitchen scale to make sure they’re even. The easiest way to do this is to set a prepared cake pan on a digital scale and tare it to “0”. Pour batter into the pan until the scale registers the weight listed in the recipe (because yes, I’ve included the approximate weight of the batter needed for each pan!). Repeat with the second and third cake pans.
- The recipe instructs you to whip the cream to a specific texture: “firm peaks.” The best way to determine the cream’s texture is to test it with a whisk. Dip the tip of the whisk (or whisk attachment) into the whipped cream, remove it, and quickly turn it upside down. If the cream is too soft, it will slide off the whisk, and you need to keep whisking. If the cream has a cloudlike structure, with peaks that lose their shape, you’re at the “soft peaks” stage. Continue whisking, then test again. If the next time you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks hold, you’re at the desired “firm peaks” stage.
- It can be really hard to frost cakes with whipped cream—it tends to soften the more you handle it. That’s why I went with the naked route option! Doing so minimizes how much you have to work with the cream. To make your life easier, you can purchase some cake dowels or wooden skewers to anchor the layers in place as you frost the cake. You can also just skip covering the cake’s sides with whipped cream and layer everything more similar to how I styled this strawberry shortcake recipe of mine from yesteryear.
6 Inch Cake Recipes
- Cheesecake Recipe
- German Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Milk Bar Birthday Cake Recipe
- Momofuku Milk Bar Chocolate Chip Cake
Layer Cake Recipes
- Fault Line Cake Tutorial
- Geode Cake Tutorial
- Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Rainbow Unicorn Cake
- Chocolate Strawberry Snack Cake
- Very Small Batch Strawberry Cake
- Yellow Sheet Cake with Strawberry Frosting
6 Inch Japanese Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
- 3 (6-inch) round cake pans
- cake board
- rotating cake stand
- piping bag with a round tip
- offset spatula
- bench scraper
For The White Cake
- 1 ½ cups (6 ounces or 170 grams) cake flour
- 1 cup (7 ounces or 198 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ cup plus 5 Tablespoons (5.5 ounces or 156 grams) whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons clear imitation vanilla extract
For The Whipped Cream
- 2 cups (16 ounces or 454 grams) cold heavy cream
- ¼ cup (1 ounce or 28 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted if necessary
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
- First, make the white cake. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prepare the cake pans. Generously spray three 6-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms of each with a parchment paper circle. Spray the parchment too.
- Mix the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on low until just combined, about 15 seconds.
- Add the butter to the dry ingredients and beat until a coarse meal forms. Add the butter to the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal, with pea-sized pieces of butter throughout, about 3 minutes.
- Add half the milk and beat until light and fluffy. Add ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) of the milk all at once and increase the mixer to medium. Beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Whisk the remaining milk with the egg whites and vanilla, then add to the batter. While the batter is mixing, whisk together the remaining milk, the egg whites, and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup. Reduce the mixer to low and add the egg white mixture in three additions, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition, then beat until just combined.
- Assemble the cakes. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans; if using a digital scale to measure out layers, note that this recipe makes around 24.5 ounces (695 grams) of batter—pour 8.15 ounces (231 grams) of batter into each cake pan.Use an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pans and smooth their tops.
- Bake the cakes. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the cake bounces back when gently pressed and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pans on a wire rack before frosting and assembling.
- Make the whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. Whisk on medium-high until firm peaks form, about 4 minutes. Be careful not to overwhip or you’ll end up with butter!Scoop approximately 1 cup of the whipped cream into a piping bag with a round tip.
- Build the layers. Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving platter in the center of a rotating cake stand. This will be the first layer of the cake. With the piping bag of whipped cream, pipe one 1-inch thick circle along the outer edges of the cake layer—doing so results in an empty circle in the idle of the whipped cream. Scoop approximately ¼ cup to ½ cup of sliced strawberries into that circle. Cover the strawberries with whipped cream, either by piping or scooping some cream from the bowl and using an offset spatula to spread it.Place a second cake layer on top of the whipped cream, stacking it evenly on top of the first layer of cake. Follow the instructions above to pipe another whipped cream circle, fill it with sliced strawberries, then cover with whipped cream. Place the third and final cake layer on top of this layer, stacking it evenly on top.
- Frost the cake. Scoop another approximate ¼ cup to ½ cup of whipped cream on top of the assembled cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the whipped cream over the top of the cake, similar to how you would spread butter on toast. Next, use the offset spatula to apply a large dollop of whipped cream to the side of the cake. Spread it in a thin layer over the sides of the cake. If using a rotating cake stand, you can spread the whipped cream easily by holding the length of the offset spatula’s blade against the cream as you rotate the stand. Add additional cream as needed. Continue spreading with the offset spatula or a bench scraper until a thin layer of whipped cream covers the sides of the cake.Pipe any additional whipped cream on top of the cake for decoration, and top with remaining strawberries.
- Serve and store. Serve immediately. The assembled Japanese strawberry shortcake can be stored at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. After that, cover the entire cake loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. However, the cake might lose its structure in warm weather—I suggest slicing any leftovers and storing it, Eton Mess or trifle style, in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
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Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.
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