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Strawberry Shortcake

yield: 3 (6-inch) cakes
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Special Equipment

  • three 6-inch round cake pans (I used Ateco's, which has a removable base and makes life a lot easier when inverting the cake)

Ingredients

For the Fresh Strawberry Filling

    (makes around 2 1/2 cups)

    • 2 pints small and ripe strawberries
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoons rose water extract
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    For the Buttermilk Cake

      (makes three 6-inch cakes)

      • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
      • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
      • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 2 eggs, at room temperature
      • 2/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

      For the Whipped Cream

        (makes about 2 1/2 cups)

        • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream , cold
        • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

        Instructions

        For the Fresh Strawberry Filling

        • Clean and hull 2 pints strawberries, slicing each berry into pieces about the thickness of a nickel.
        • Place sliced strawberries in a medium bowl, and sprinkle 1/2 cup granulated sugar over the berries. Add 2 teaspoons rose water extract and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Use two rubber spatulas to gently toss the strawberries in the sugar and extract until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the berries macerate at room temperature, until they exude their juices (at least an hour or longer).

        For the Buttermilk Cake

        • Preheat the oven to 350 (F). Grease the bottoms and sides of three 6-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each with a round of parchment or waxed paper; grease the paper.
        • In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups cake flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
        • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together 5 tablespoons unsalted butter with 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (this should take around 2 to 3 minutes). Lower the mixer to its slowest setting, and add 2 eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition.
        • With the mixer speed still on its lowest setting, add the dry ingredients (from the second step) in three parts, alternating with 2/3 cup butter milk in 2 parts — you should finish with the remaining third of the dry ingredients. Mix only until each ingredient has been incorporated; BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERMIX.
        • Once both the dry ingredients and buttermilk has been incorporated into the batter, divide the batter among the three prepared cake pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely. Don't forget to remove the parchment circles!

        For the Whipped Cream

        • One the cakes have cooled completely and you're ready to start assembling the cake, make the whipped cream.
        • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine 1 1/2 cups cold, heavy cream with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk on medium-high speed until the mixture is stiff and starts to form stiff peaks — be careful not to overmix, or you'll end up with butter!

        Assembly

        • To assemble the strawberry shortcake, place one cake layer, flat side down on a small cake stand or a serving plate. Use a fork or a wooden skewer to poke holes in the cake, before carefully topping with 3/4 cup of the strawberry filling. Spoon the filling over the entire layer and make sure the juices go into the cake layer (they should start seeping into the holes you poked) and not the plate.
        • Top the strawberries with 1 cup of the whipped cream, using a rubber spatula to make sure the cream stays in the middle of the cake — when you place the second cake layer on the cream, the cream will automatically spread out over the berries from the pressure of the second cake layer.
        • Top the cream with a second cake layer. Repeat the first two steps for this layer, before topping with the third and final cake layer. Make sure that the final cake layer has the flat side up of the cake up.
        • Cover the final layer with the last of the whipped cream and garnish with whole berries. For best flavor, eat immediately OR allow the cake to refrigerate for about an hour before slicing. Allowing it to refrigerate for an hour allows the cake to soak up some of the strawberries' juices.