Yesterday I had a picnic with friends and decided to make a more elegant version of a strawberry shortcake. I used the Buttermilk Country Cake and layered it with Strawberry Conserve, fresh sliced strawberries (macerated with some sugar and rosewater), and some Strawberry Jam Cream (made with the Strawberry Conserves and homemade creme fraiche), and the frosting was with the whipped cream. I thought the tangy whipped creme fraiche frosting would be the perfect compliment to the buttermilk cake and also to the strawberries (strawberries and cream….classic combo). The cake was delicious—-tasted like the essence of strawberries.
This was my first time working with whipped cream frostings, and last week I got some useful tips from Julie on the forum. It was somewhat of a challenge to put this cake together, because butter cakes like to be warm, but whipped cream likes to be cold. I needed to bring this cake unrefrigerated to a picnic and have it not melt into a puddle within 4-5 hours. Initially, I considered the White Ganache, mostly whipped cream stabilized with a bit of white chocolate. However, I don’t quite like the flavor of white chocolate and didn’t want it to interfere with the strawberry. I remembered Hector Wong had a special technique for stabilizing whipped cream. I browsed through his blog and found the post. Whip the cream to soft peaks in a room temp bowl. Then put it in the fridge overnight and whip to stiff peaks the next day. The result should be stable for 4 hours at room temp. This really fascinated me. The fact that you don’t need to use cornstarch or gelatin, etc. to stabilize whipped cream. I had to try this. Of course, my whipped cream would also be stabilized by the thickness of the creme fraiche and also the pectin in the strawberry conserve. Well, it worked pretty well. I made the frosting first thing in the morning and shaped a spoonful into a quenelle and then put in on a small plate. By afternoon, it still held the shape and no watering out!
My gripes about the cake… The whipped cream frosting was delicious, but I found the texture to be a bit too soft. I was hoping for a mousse-like, spongy texture. I think I will add gelatin next time to get that effect. Of course a butter cake would be traditional for a strawberry shortcake, but I find that I prefer lighter sponge cakes instead. Butter cakes are a little too rich for my tastes. I never liked pound cakes, etc. much either. This strawberry shortcake could also work with a genoise syruped with a mixture of Frangelico, Chambord, splash of rosewater, and the strawberry macerating syrup. Or for a compromise between a rich butter cake and a light sponge cake—-the Golden Genoise!