(Not a Short Cake)
How you doin’? Living in California, I have access to fresh strawberries within hours of when they are picked. I bought a flat of fresh-from-the field strawberries this weekend and they were so sweet and delicious. But a full flat was way too many for two to eat over a weekend so I had to find a way to use them before they spoiled. I thought strawberry shortcake.
Here was my dilemma—I really dislike those spongy little circles with the shelf-life of plutonium that you buy in the supermarket. I also don’t really care for split sweetened biscuits that go stale once they cool down. Split, day-old muffins don’t do it for me either. I started to think, how can I improve on something so great as just eating fresh strawberries? Voilà! That’s French for “Eureka.” How about a Strawberry-Custard Cake topped with whipped cream and a fresh berry? And, here it is… the perfect fresh summer dessert.
Sometimes when you are cooking or baking tragedies occur… even to professionals. Read the After-The-End-Story at the end of this post—it was a comedy of errors.
Prep time: 35 minutes
Bake time: 23 to 30 minutes
Additional time: 2 hours for macerating the strawberries
Yield: 8 servings:
For the berry filling
2 pounds fresh strawberries, sliced / reserve 8 beautiful, ripe strawberries for topping.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
For the whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
To make the strawberry filling
As found in my cookbook--Choclatique-150 Simply Elegant Desserts
A classic pastry cream is used in bakeries and restaurants to fill cakes, pies, tarts, and pastries. Over the years, I have come to judge great pastry chefs on the quality of their pastry cream and have never found this criterion to let me down. What I like about this pastry cream is that when “as is,” you can eat it like a pudding. I am always disappointed when I order dessert in a restaurant only to discover that the pastry chef uses using some kind of plastic, gloppy packaged custard mix. What’s so hard about doing it my way?
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cool time: 20 minutes
Yield: 2-1/2 cups
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
ChefSecret: To flavor the pastry cream, whisk 1/2 cup chocolate syrup into the pastry cream with the butter. You can also whisk in 1/2 cup of caramel sauce to make caramel pastry cream.
After-The-End-Story: You know, sometimes stuff happens and that was the case with this recipe. For some reason, the cake wouldn’t easily come out of the baking dish. And, you guessed it—it broke apart and crumbled. I did manage to get at least one good piece for the picture—and I ate that soon after the photo was taken.
My very formal and strait-laced pastry chef in Paris once told me there would be days like this. So, in these cases, you can always make trifles. In my case I made parfaits—a couple of spoonfuls of custard, a broken lump of cake or two, strawberries, and repeat ‘till you reach the top of the glass leaving room for whipped cream.
Since this cake can be a bit temperamental and if you have a fear of failure, replace the whole cake recipe with a boxed version of yellow cake mix… replace the called-out oil with melted butter.
ChefSecret: Try making different fruit fillings using other berries and ripe stone fruit. Just follow the same direction above.
#Dessert #Strawberry #CustardCake #StrawberryShortcake #Baking #PerspectivesTheConsultingGroup #QuarantineKitchen #Covid19
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