This takeoff on strawberry shortcake is elegant enough for a dinner party and, despite a few construction steps, not at all difficult to make. It can be made several hours or even a day ahead, making it perfect for entertaining.
Season to taste: In place of the sliced strawberries, use raspberries, olallieberries, or blackberries, coarsely chopped if very large. In the filling, substitute crème de cassis for the Grand Marnier with blackberries, or raspberry liqueur with raspberries.
- 2 pints (about 4 cups) strawberries, hulled
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange liqueur, such as
- Grand Marnier (optional)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1/3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs, separated cold, then left at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup cake flour, sifted before measuring
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling and finishing
1. To begin the filling, set aside 1 cup of the berries for garnish. Cut the remainder into ½-inch-thick slices and toss with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the liqueur (if using). Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the cake batter.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F, with a rack near the center. Oil a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet and line with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Oil the mat or parchment.
3. To make the cake, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream, then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the whites hold medium-firm peaks. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, using the mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together the egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes with a standing mixer and a little longer with a handheld mixer. Stop and scrape down the bowl as needed. On low speed, mix in the flour and salt just until combined.
5. Whisk the whites briefly to bring them back to medium-firm peaks. Using a large spatula or whisk, gently fold one-third of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
6. Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until the top feels dry and springs back when you press it lightly with your finger near the center, about 8 minutes. It should remain pale. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, cover with a tea towel, and let cool for 10 minutes.
7. Run a thin knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Using a fine-mesh strainer, dust the top of the cake lightly with confectioners’ sugar, re-cover the cake with the towel, and invert a rimless baking sheet on top. Invert the pans together, releasing the cake onto the towel and rimless sheet. Lift off the top pan and peel off the mat or parchment. Let the cake cool completely, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
8. To complete the filling, using a chilled bowl and beaters, whip the cream, crème fraîche, vanilla, and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until the mixture holds firm peaks. Strain the berries, capturing their juices in a bowl, and fold the drained berries into the cream.
9. Cut the berries reserved for garnish in half, from top to tip. Mix them with the reserved berry juices.
10. Position the cake with a long side parallel to the edge of the work surface, and place a serving platter at the opposite long side. Spread the cream filling evenly over the cake, leaving a narrow border on the short sides and a 1-inch border along both long sides.
11. Starting at the long side closest to you, fold the 1-inch border tightly over the filling, then begin to roll, using the towel to help form a compact roll and pulling it out of the way as you go. Then, use the towel to help you transfer the cake, seam-side down, onto the serving platter. Use a thin or serrated sharp knife to trim just a bit from the ends of the cake to create a slight angle (baker’s snack!). Refrigerate the cake, tightly covered, until very cold, about 2 hours or up to 1 day.
12. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top, and spoon the reserved berries around the base. Cut the cake with a thin or serrated sharp knife at a slight angle, using a gentle sawing motion.
Excerpted from Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht. Copyright © 2010 by Jennie Schacht. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.