I’m taking a little break from my seasonal reality and dreaming of Spring flowers and Summer picnics today.
It’s getting so close to the first day of being technically Winter here and that means a ton of rain. I’m not gonna lie though, complain as I might about the fact that we don’t get snow here, I’m feeling pretty grateful right about now for the more mild temperatures of living where we do and its relation to sea level. Yeah, like I just pointed out, it’s not even winter yet and I’m already getting ready for it to get warm again. I have to tell you, summers in Patagonia are the best!
But I have to get through a few more seasons first so for now I’m just going to keep up with my typical act of pretending it’s summer, which I do mostly for the fact that so many of you live where it really is summer right now. I was just recently talking to a cousin that lives State side and he was telling how hot and humid it’s been in the South, and from what I hear, almost everywhere else up there too. Apparently there have even been some places hitting record-breaking highs for this time of year. Hmmmm, maybe I should be careful what I wish for.
Speaking of all that heat though, It must be more widely spread than I thought. I don’t know how it’s possible this late in the year but one of out local markets surprised us last week by having a whole shipment of crates jammed full of fresh strawberries. Admittedly they weren’t the sweetest berries ever, but still, fresh and local strawberries at the end of Autumn, I’ll take it!
Since they were out of season though, they didn’t have a lot of time on them so I immediately started brainstorming what to make them into. That’s when I remembered what I forgot to make last season. I had strawberry shortcake on my list all summer but the time never seemed exactly right and I kept putting it off until it was too late to get fresh berries, or so I’d thought.
Another thing is that I’ve always kind of felt sorry for this classic summertime sweet and I knew I wanted to approach it from a more feeling angle. I mean “short” cake, really? Come on guys, talk about a complex causing title. What happened here to all that social correctness everyone seems to be throwing around? Doesn’t strawberry shortcake deserve a little of respect for being so incredible? I think so, and that’s what inspired my tall cakes.
Okay, and I’ve never been clear on the whole shortcake thing anyway. Some people consider an actual European style, biscuit-like shortcake the only way to go, while others use basic vanilla cake or angelfood in its place and call it shortcake. I’m gonna go with saying to each their own, and really, because these aren’t short-cakes no rules can apply anyway.
But wait, there’s more! I have to gush a little over of how much you’ll adore these! So adding a little altitude requires a little more support than your typical whipped cream so I came up with a slightly thicker version with its only negative point being that it’s made it impossible for me to ever consider going back to plain whipped cream. It’s a delightfully fluffy layer that’s somewhere between a basic whipped cream and cream cheese frosting so it’ll have you wanting to just grab a spoon and dive in.
For the cakes I used my absolute favorite white cake recipe that I can’t imaging being improved. In fact, it may be my favorite cake recipe period. It’s got it all, balanced sweetness, fluffy texture, and yet enough structure to support all these berries and cream. I already shared the recipe a while ago but for this version I adjusted the ratios so that it could be baked in a smaller batch. You use giant muffin pans to make these and then simply divide each muffin in half and stack four halves together per each cake.
If you’re feeling in the mood for a little more risk you could try stacking them even higher just for kicks but I found that four was the tallest they could realistically stay up without making a huge (yet incredibly delicious!) mess. However, I think four is enough to merit them being dubbed ridiculously tall and I’ll bet your friends an family will get as much fun out of these as mine did.
If I do say so myself, this is probably the only strawberry tall/short cake recipe you’ll ever need……….forever and a day!!!!
- 3 egg whites
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1/3 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 cups fresh strawberries, washed, trimmed and diced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease 2 6-cavity extra large muffin tins (this size). Pour egg whites into bowl of stand mixer and beat until they form stiff peaks then set aside for a moment. In separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add all other ingredients and mix until smooth then gently fold in egg whites to batter. Divide batter into pans as evenly as possible (about 1/3 cup batter per cup). Bake for 18 - 25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely then loosen cakes from pan and place them in an airtight container in the fridge to get cold.
- Whip the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment until it forms stiff peaks. Scrape cream into a separate bowl and set aside. Add the cream cheese, vanilla, salt, and sugar to the mixing bowl and mix until completely smooth. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy then fold in whipped cream and place mixture in fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
- Trim the tops off of cakes if necessary to make them level then slice them in half horizontally in the middle (like a sandwich bun). The top halves of the muffins will be slightly large than the bottoms so make 6 stacks, 2 cupcakes in each, with the 2 larger halves on the bottom and the smaller halves on top.
- Starting with the bottom layers, spread a spoonful of the cream mixture on each layer and top with a layer of strawberries followed by the next layer. Repeat until you have 6 extra tall mini cakes that are perfect for sharing.....or not sharing!
These are great for making ahead but it's best to wait until serving time to assemble. If preferred, you can bake the cake batter in 2, 8-inch rounds and make one big cake instead of small ones. Also, if you would rather,you can bake the cake in a large rectangle pan and cut into squares then layer everything in a trifle dish.