I have no idea how a traditional Strawberry Shortcake should be made, but the Rose version is pretty simple. I am completely converted to the genoise sponge. Last Christmas my mother called me in a baking flap. There was no baking powder in the house to make the sponge for the Christmas Trifle. I started to talk her through making a genoise, but apparently me talking her down wasn't a success. So here is the method in writing with a few patchy pictures and no ingredients... it should be a complete snap for anyone to pull together now.
First off make the buerre noisette. This is probably where I lost my mother. Actually I probably lost her when I said, "take out your digital scales, accurate to 1 gram...".
This is no big thing. Basically you heat the solid butter until it melts and then you keep on cooking it until the bottom of the pot is coated in really dark brown, almost burnt gunge. This gunge is the browned milk solids. The golden brown liquid on top is the buerre noisette. Not so much a recipe as a technique. This is then kept warm at 40 - 50 degrees celsius, with the vanilla essence mixed in. I did neither. Instead I just reheated it to just above finger temperature when the time came to use it.
Next step was to warm the eggs and sugar until tepid. My definition of tepid is that it feels warm when I stick my finger in it. So I guessing that is probably about 40 ish degrees.
|Tepid eggs and sugar - can't you tell?|
Next you take a bit of the billowing egg and sugar mixture and fold it into the warmed beurre noisette (preferably with the vanilla essence). Then you fold in very very very gently (ie without help from small children) half the sifted cornflour and cake flour. Then the recipe says, fold in the remaining half cornflour and flour mix, but I didn't. Instead I folded in the beurre noisette and egg mixture then I folded in the remaining flour. Nobody died.
Scrape that into the cake pan, with a last fevered, but gentle, mix to capture the 1/4 cup of flour that always seems to find its way to the bottom without being moistened by any of the wet ingredients. I thought my cake would be littered with little flour bombs, but I had just one.
Into the oven and it baked for about 35 minutes at 175 degrees. I was greatly pleased by the height of this genoise. There is a bit of a panic to get the thing out of the tin and back the right way up, but that all went quite smoothly and there was no sinking at all.
Because I don't yet own a beautiful shortcake tin, I fashioned my own version. Thomas was most pleased by this make do and mend approach as it meant that he got to eat the offcuts and spread them from kitchen to playbench. I am sure the mouse was most pleased too.
|Trimmed to hold the strawberries|
The cake is then doused in a strawberry and cointreau and sugar syrup (should have been Grand Marnier, but make do and mend). I went a little of piste here and instead of using frozen strawberries - I had none and nor did I want to freeze any, so I just pureed the required amount and then let it ooze out the juice. Worked a treat.
This syrup is painted on the exposed top and the bottom as well. You have to scrap off the crust from the bottom otherwise the only place that syrup will end up is on the bench.
Now, the recipe says to rest overnight to allow the flavours to settle/combine/join together as one. Unfortunately, we had a few friends over for dinner, and this was the dessert, so it had about six hours to sort itself out.
Onto that indentation of pinked up delight, I placed the pureed strawberry that so willingly released its juice for the syrup. I was a bit hesitant about this step. I get the heebies about soggy stuff (think white bread and tomatoes after four hours - stomach curdling bleh) so I was very dubious. Fortunately Raymond posted early and his looked amazing so I just went with it.
Next was macerating some strawberries. Rose did hers in sugar and lemon juice, I am a bit over the lemon juice in everything, so I opted for sugar and two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. I have to say it was perfect, but given I didn't have the lemon version to compare to, I guess it could only be perfect? The strawberries are artfully placed on the top of the cake - you will have to take my word for it. I was about a bottle of very good sauvignon blanc into the evening and consequently photography and apparently also strawberry jam enhanced whipped cream application became a bit slap happy.
|My new mental image when I think of Strawberry Shortcake|
You can see in the background that this was served with a variety of whiskies. And between five adults, almost the entire cake was consumed. I think the consumption of cake was very linear to the consumption of the whisky. We had run out of wine. And beer. So the only options left were cake, cointreau, port and whisky. Make do and mend I say.
This cake will definitely be made again. Probably without the bottle of sauvignon. That way the cream has a hope of being more artfully applied.
Reading back over this post, I am sure my Mum could have made this... I just need to buy her some digital scales.