Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

I bet when you think of Strawberry Shortcake, you think of the little circular sponge cakes you buy at the grocery store with macerated strawberries and whipped cream, right?  Well I usually do, too.  That is what my grandmother has always done for us and it's very satisfying.  But how about a little twist?

This shortcake is not a circular spongecake, but a vanilla cake that is sliced in half horizontally with a homemade strawberry rhubarb compote spooned between the layers, topped with fresh homemade whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberries.

The vanilla cake recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook, and it is a different technique than a typical vanilla cake.  It is easy to do and results in a moist cake.  However, it doesn't rise too much so it is a thin cake.  I make this dessert at the restaurant and it is a big hit!

The strawberry rhubarb compote is very simple to make and doesn't take much time, either.  There is no exact recipe, so below the cake recipe I have written rough estimates to make the compote.  Since there is no correct way to make it, you can play around with ingredient amounts.

Enjoy and happy baking!

Vanilla Cake
(America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook)

Ingredients (makes 2 – 8” cakes)

1 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
4 eggs (room temperature)
½ cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla
2 sticks butter (cubed, slightly at room temperature)

Preheat oven to 325*F and grease and flour two 8” pans.

Mix dry ingredients into bowl of stand mixer.  Combine eggs, milk, and vanilla in small bowl.  Reserve one cup of the mixture.  On stir, add butter pieces to the dry mixture until coarse crumbs form (like big sand granules).  Once coarse crumbs form, slowly add the reserved one cup liquid mix.  Beat on high for 1 minute, until the mixture is fluffy and light in color.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining the liquid mixture slowly.  Beat on high for another 15 seconds or so.  Divide the batter equally between the pans and bake 20-25 minutes (closer to 20 minutes) or until they are golden brown and the cake tester is clean.

Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Strawberry Rhubarb compote
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

2 lbs. strawberries, hulled and sliced horizontally
2 or 3 stalks of rhubarb, cut in roughly 1/2" chunks
1/2 - 2/3 cup sugar 
2 - 3 Tbsp orange flavored liqueur (or more)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 ground cloves
pinch of salt 
1-2 Tbsp cornstarch

Hull and slice the strawberries into a bowl.  Add some sugar (roughly 1/4 - 1/3 cup) to macerate and set aside for about 15 minutes.  Cut the rhubarb into chunks.  Heat a skillet with oil to med-high.  Add the rhubarb and some sugar (roughly 1/4 cup) and saute until the rhubarb releases juices and softens (about 5 minutes).  Set aside.  Separate the strawberries from their juice and put the strawberries in a sauce pan on medium low.  Add the rhubarb and some orange liqueur.  Add the spices and salt and let simmer until the strawberries begin to get soft and the juices are bubbling.  At this point, add the cornstarch in a small bowl.  Spoon out a few scoops of the liquid from the sauce pan and stir to dissolve the cornstarch.  Add this mixture to the sauce pan and let simmer for a few more minutes to thicken up.  Let cool and add to the sliced cake.

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