Today’s recipe: an Italian spin on strawberry shortcake (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).
 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.
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.
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.
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:
Coffee is an indispensable ingredient in tiramisu: The name means “pick me up,” referring to the caffeine in coffee.
Why does accuracy in anything matter?
End of teachable moment.
RECIPE: ITALIAN-STYLE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
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.
For The Sponge Cake
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
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