Today’s recipe: an Italian spin on strawberry shortcake (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).
 You can buy strawberries year-round, but summer strawberries are (no surprise) the sweetest (photo courtesy California Strawberries).
A traditional strawberry shortcake combines strawberry, whipped cream and biscuits. It might have been a way to use leftover biscuits (photo courtesy Driscoll’s Berries).
 Trade the whipped cream for ice cream, on a biscuit or in a layer cake (photo courtesy Nestlé).
 This is what a tart looks like: It stands free of the tart pan (photo courtesy Chilean Blueberry Committee).
 This is what a pie looks like: It needs to remain in the pie plate (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).
 A tart has a solid filling (photo courtesy Butter Flour Sugar).
June 14th is National Strawberry Shortcake Day, and we have a recipe below that builds on the concept.
But first, a request that you not name your recipes with the name of a different recipe. We mean no disrespect to anyone involved with naming a recipe: It’s a teaching moment for everyone.
In fact, yesterday we received a recipe for a banana cream pie, that is clearly a tart. Here are all the differences; the first is that the crusts and fillings are different.
A tart crust is buttery, firm and stands up on its own. The filling solidifies, like a custard.
A pie crust is soft and pliable, made with shortening. It needs the support of the pie plate. The center is usually runny, especially in the case of fruit pies. (Others, like pecan pie, solidify.
See photos #5, #6 and #7.
Now onto today’s misnomer. The recipe below (in photo #1) is called a Berry Tiramisu Cake by its creator, a professional baker. The name follows the downward slope of appending the name of a well-known, popular food to something new.
Hence, for example, there are hundreds of cocktail recipes called a [add a modifier, e.g. cherry] Margarita or [chocolate] Martini, because the name “sells.” But it dowesn’t track: The ingredients do not build on the essential ingredients of the recipe they claim to represent.
WHAT’S THE BEEF?
You can build on a basic recipe—for example, make a flavored Martini. But if it doesn’t have vermouth plus gin or vodka in addition to the fruit, chocolate, coffee or whatever, it isn’t a Martini. Simply adding vodka (or tequila) to a recipe does not a Martini (or Margarita) make.
See our rant on this topic.
ON TO DESSERT!
Following the beef above, we now comment on the concept of “Berry Tiramisu.”
Tiramisu is a recipe that comprises sponge cake or ladyfingers (sponge fingers), soaked in espresso liqueur or a coffee syrup (for a non-alcoholic version), and layered with a mascarpone cheese and custard mixture. It is garnished with a dusting of cocoa powder or shaved chocolate.
To build on it and still call it tiramisu:
You can switch the mascarpone and custard for ice cream and have a tiramisu sundae.
You can combine espresso liqueur, vanilla or Irish cream liqueur (for the mascarpone) and vodka and have a tiramisu cocktail, garnished with chocolate shavings and perhaps, a ladyfinger on the side.
You can use a different cake instead of the ladyfingers; for example, a pound cake or pandoro tiramisu.
You can substitute the custard for heavy cream, for a frozen tiramisu.
You can add a layer of fruit, for a cherry tiramisu.
But you can’t get rid of the coffee.
Coffee is an indispensable ingredient in tiramisu: The name means “pick me up,” referring to the caffeine in coffee.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Why does accuracy in anything matter?
End of teachable moment.
RECIPE: ITALIAN-STYLE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
This recipe, developed by MaryJane Robbins of King Arthur Flour, is called Berry Tiramisu by its creator. You can watch the step-by-step production here.
We have renamed it Italian-Style Strawberry Shortcake. Here’s the history of shortcake; you’ll see why shortcake is an apt description.
As for “Italian-style,” the shortcake uses mascarpone instead of whipped cream, and soaks the sponge layers in syrup.
Whatever you wish to call it, prep time is 35 to 45 minutes; bake time is 20 to 23 minutes.
The syrup and cream can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and held in the refrigerator until the cake is ready to assemble.
Ingredients For A 9-Inch Cake
For The Sponge Cake
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (grated peel of 2 lemons)
1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
Pinch of ground cloves
For The Citrus Soaking Syrup
2 cups mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange peel (from 1 orange)
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 quarts fresh berries of your choice (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
For The Citrus Cream Filling
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and line with parchment two 9″ square* pans. Combine the eggs, sugar and almond extract in a mixing bowl. Beat on high speed until the eggs thicken and lighten in color, about 5 minutes.
2. WHISK together in a separate small bowl the flour, baking powder and salt. Sprinkle 1/3 of the dry mixture over the beaten egg and gently stir it in. Repeat twice more, using 1/3 of the flour mixture each time. The batter will begin to look spongy and fluffy.
3. POUR the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and place on racks to cool in the pan completely.
4. MAKE the syrup: Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for one minute, or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, strain, and set aside to cool.
5. MAKE the filling: In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone and orange zest. Gradually stir in the heavy cream until the mixture is smooth and thick. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
6. ASSEMBLE the cake: Place one cake layer on a serving platter and brush it with syrup. Allow the syrup to soak in, then apply more. You’ll use about half of the syrup for the first layer.
7. SPREAD half of the sliced berries over the moist cake. Dollop on half of the cream filling, and spread in an even layer. Top with the second layer of cake, repeating the soaking process. Spread with the remaining cream filling, then top with the last of the berries. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour (or up to overnight) before serving.
Store any leftover cake in the fridge for up to 2 days. Freezing is not recommended.
*If you don’t have two 9″ square pans, you can bake in two 9″ round pans. The layers will be slightly thicker, and will take a few extra minutes to bake.
MORE SHORTCAKE RECIPES
Cupcake Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
Easy Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
Matzoh Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
Red, White & Blue Shortcake Recipe
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Cake Recipe
Triple Berry Shortcake Recipe