Simple Strawberry Shortcake

It’s summer! I love summer and more importantly I love summer fruit! Strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit of all time hand’s down, no question about it. They are one of the most universal dessert fruits really. There isn’t much you can’t do with a strawberry. They’re good on their own, with any kind of cake, topping or dipping sauce. God, how can one fruit be so bloody amazing?

I really love strawberry shortcake by the way. There is something perfect about the combination of strawberries, vanilla cake and whipped cream that is just so perfect. I usually order it for dessert at a restaurant unless I’m craving chocolate cake. I just impulsively decided that I really wanted a strawberry shortcake. I looked through my recipes and discovered I had saved a bunch of recipes but I really just decided I wanted to create my own cake. Really, its that I was lazy and didn’t want to bake an entire cake from scratch and boxed cake was the way to go.

When I got to the grocery store I was faced with a few decisions to make, namely what kind of cake mix to buy. I knew yellow cake wasn’t going to work with the recipe because it had too distinct of a flavor. So that left me with either French vanilla or white cake. I couldn’t make a decision so I bought both and figured I’d decide when I got home. French vanilla won mainly because white cake requires egg whites and again, I was lazy. I also like the subtle taste of vanilla in my cake so I think that also influenced my decision.

Box cake mix is really where the simple part of where this cake comes from. I also had one other shortcut, whipped topping. I find its a better binder in the center of the cake than homemade whipped cream. But the homemade whipped cream is perfect for frosting the outside of the cake. As far as the strawberries are concerned, you could just slice them and fill the cake but they are so much better if you macerate them. Macerate means to soften or break up. It just really enhances the strawberry flavor and if you use strawberries that are close to but not entirely ripe, macerating them will really bring out the strawberry flavor.

The cake was truly a success! The boyfriend ate two large slices of the first night and actually devoured most of the cake. Usually I don’t bake cakes because he never eats them but now I know he’ll be all over this one!

strawberry shortcake1

Here is step one in cake construction. One layer of cake, whipped topping and the macerated strawberries.

strawberry shortcake2Here is step two! Second cake on top!

Simple Strawberry Shortcake
1 box french vanilla cake mix
1 pint strawberries
1 8oz. container whipped topping
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar

Bake cake in two 9 inch round cake pans according to box directions. Let cool completely

Cut one pint strawberries into slices. If you have larger berries, cut the slices into halves. Mix with 1 tbsp. sugar. Place container into refrigerator to macerate. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, up to 30.

Remove cakes from pans. Place thicker cake on plate, slice off a thin top layer with a serrated knife to create an even surface for whipped topping. Spread half of whipped topping over cake. Cover with macerated berries. Cover with whipped topping. Its okay if you have some left over. Place other cake on top and refrigerate.

Mix cold cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a metal bowl. Whip until stiff peaks are formed. Cover entire cake using offset spatula.

Place strawberry on top of the center of the cake to decorate. Refrigerate before serving or serve immediately.

strawberry shortcake full

Finished product!

strawberry shortcake slice

First slice!

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Tres Leches Cake

I first had this delicious cake in Illinois oddly enough. My brother lives out there and during a visit my sister in law took me and my niece and nephew out for Mexican. Never one to turn down a dessert recommendation, I tried the cake. My sister in law had introduced me to fried ice cream so I definitely trusted her. The cake was perfect. Thick, creamy, milky and wonderful.

After the initial introduction I didn’t have tres leches cake again for a long while. Since most of my Mexican cuisine came from places like Chevy’s and Chipotle, tres leches just wasn’t on the menu. I re-discovered it much like I discovered Tiramisu; in the dessert section of Whole Foods. It was just the way I remembered it!

Tres leches means three milks: regular whole milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. The last two come in cans and if you’re shopping in a regular grocery store they can be found in the baking aisle. They’re usually pretty inexpensive so you can stock up on them! I’m not a brand snob so I usually buy whichever ones are the cheapest. The cake is also topped with whipped cream. The recipe tells you how to make it and I promise its not hard to do but if you’re afraid, I’d say use something like Cool Whip over Redi-Whip simply because of consistency. Redi-Whip just doesn’t stand up to being stored in the fridge. Also, you can serve this cake topped with fruit (the recipe even suggests it) but I don’t for storage/flavor reasons. If you knew you were going to consume the whole cake at once you could probably top it with fruit but I just don’t see the point =)

These cakes are pretty easy to make and having made it twice now I feel more confident with my skills. Like the note on the recipe says, if you’re using a metal baking pan keep an eye on it because it will bake quickly. Once it’s out and cooled slightly (you want to pour the milk over a warm cake) I poke holes with a fork. I think a skewer/toothpick is more time consuming and kind of small. Also, when making the whipped cream use COLD heavy cream and a chilled bowl. It just sets better the colder the cream. I got this recipe from the almighty Martha Stewart so I didn’t really mess with it too much. She can do no wrong in my mind. The recipe can be found here. Moving on…

Tres Leches Cake
serves 12

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar (3/4 cup for cake, 1/4 cup for whipped cream)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 9×13 inch baking dish. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt). In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat eggs and 3/4 cup sugar until pale and thick, approximately 4 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine. Switch mixer to low and gradually add dry ingredient mixture. Beat to combine. With a spatula mix in melted butter until incorporated. pour batter into dish and bake until top in golden brown and knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Rotate halfway

In a medium bowl whisk together milks. Once cake is warm, not hot, poke holes in top of cake with fork. Pour milk mixture over the top of cake and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Whip heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar until medium peaks form. To serve, spread whipped cream over the top of completely cooled cake. If you’d like, top with fruit of your choice. I thin berries would work best.

I have a pic of the top of the cake, I should have taken one of it cut into.

tres leches