Strawberries are great.
Once I biked to the Farmer’s Market in my town and bought some perfectly ripe strawberries to eat with a little bit of whipped cream. It’s one of my favorite things to eat! So I got home, and I balanced the box of berries on my bike seat to lock up my bike with both hands. Big mistake. The box plopped over onto the ground and I unleashed an ear-piercing scream and started to cry a little bit as I salvaged all the berries I could. So, you can surmise from this that I LOVE strawberries, probably an unhealthy amount. Even I cringe at the mental image of my person hunched over crushed berries on the ground, pawing through them like I’ll never see a whole berry again.
In my defense, strawberries are delectable when perfectly ripe, little splashes of color and flavor that instantly brighten up any meal. I’m not alone in this belief. The British are particularly well known for their love of strawberries and cream, and if anime is anything to go by, the Japanese also love strawberry shortcake. A strawberry shortcake is as a strawberry shortcake does, so today I am going to focus on copying the appearance of the strawberry shortcake found in Ouran High School Host Club. However, you can copy this recipe and just adapt the appearance to whatever anime you are cooking for.
Original recipe can be found here. I have put all the weights into American cups for baking convenience.
4 large eggs, white and yolks separated
1 cup granulated sugar, sifted once
3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups cake flour, sifted 3 times
2 tbs butter, melted
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp water
1 tsp gelatin
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
You will also need around 32 oz strawberries (I had a few leftover which I snacked on), mostly because of the whole berries we will put on top for decoration. If you don’t want to put whole berries on top, and for example just want berries between the layers, you will probably need around 8 oz of berries.
How to Make Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
First off, this isn’t a real shortcake as it uses egg whites as a leavener, but for lack of a better name, we’ll just call it a Strawberry Shortcake. (Normal shortcakes are made with a powder leavener, and are ‘short’ because of the addition of butter or lard or, well, shortening, to make the cake tender). I guess we could just call it strawberry cake, but that sounds a little boring.
OK, right. To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and line your 7-8 inch pan. Larger pans, like a 9 inch, are fine, it’s just that your cake will be less tall in the end. I lined my pan with parchment paper, because I hate it when my cakes stick to the bottoms of pans, and it makes cake extraction MUCH easier. Then, I sprayed the whole thing with baking spray. Better safe than ruined cake.
Next, you want to prepare your dry ingredients. Sift the flour and set it aside, and then do the same for the flour. If you don’t have a sieve, you can just vigorously whisk your flour and sugar to incorporate air, which is the purpose of sifting, and also what I did because I don’t have a sieve.
Then, pour both egg whites and sugar in a bowl and begin mixing with a hand or stand mixer on high until glossy, stiff and fluffy. You will know it’s done when the eggs stand up like mine on the end of your beater. DO NOT skip this step, seriously, it is crucial to the overall texture of the cake.
Then, pour your yolks in and gently whisk them into the whites.
Add the milk and vanilla and FOLD them into the mixture until you see no more liquidous streaks. To fold things into egg whites, you simply take a spatula/ child-cheater, and run it around the outer edge of the whites, and drag into the middle of the bowl. DO NOT stir, as the goal here is to maintain as much air as possible and not deflate the egg whites. It will take awhile, and you may feel some anxiety as you watch your egg whites deflate slowly (as I did), but never fear, it will turn out alright. Probably.
Then, pour in flour and fold it through the mixture until you see no more loose flour and few to no lumps. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, place on lowest rack in the oven, and bake for 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean/ with a few crumbs attached.
Set the cake aside on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Alternatively, if you want cake and you want it NOW, you can put it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. In the meantime, prepare your toppings and filling by picking out the strawberries that look most equal size-wise for the top, and cut off their leaves. Those will be for the top, so make sure they’re as even as possible! I tried to fit 12 but could only get 11 on, so make sure they’re medium to small if you want the full 12 that are pictured on the Ouran High School version. As for the berry filling, try to get about 10 small ones and just cut them in half.
Next, make simple syrup (doesn’t it sound like something from Legend of Zelda? I love it.) by combining sugar and water, bringing to a boil to dissolve sugar crystals, and letting cool.
To make the whipped cream, start first by sprinkling your gelatin over the water. Let it fully absorb, about 5 mins, and then microwave in 5 second bursts until it is just melted together, but not burning hot. If it feels hot on your finger, it is too hot to put in the cold cream. Wait until it feels room temperature to add it into the cream, otherwise it will set up in droplets in the whipping cream.
As the gelatin is doing its thing, blend together cream, vanilla, and sugar until slightly thickened. Then pour in the gelatin and whip up until you get stiff peaks (But careful! Too much whipping will turn it to butter, so don’t over whip. All you have to do is whip it. Whip it good. Heheh. It’s done when you can stand the cream up in peaks without them drooping over too much.). By adding the gelatin, you ensure that your whipped cream won’t leak water as time passes. If you are going to eat the cake in one day, you can probably skip the gelatin. Otherwise, the gelatin in the whipped cream will help your cake stay together and looking nice. Whipped cream is pretty delicate, so without the extra fortification it tends to loose air pretty quickly.
All that’s left is to assemble. Slice your cake into two layers, and dabble both halves generously with simple syrup to help it retain moisture.
Place your bottom layer onto your plate/cake stand, and lay down a thin layer of whipped cream. Place your halved berries on top. I tried to place mine in a pattern so as to get perfect looking slices of strawberry in every slice of cake, but you don’t have to go to that trouble if you don’t care about the inside.
Then, fill in all gaps between the berries and cover the top with more whipped cream. Next, place the final layer on top, and cover the whole thing in whipped cream. Smooth it all out using a cake spatula, bench scraper, piece of acetate, ruler, back of a knife etc. to make it look super professional. Just use a gentle touch so you don’t accidentally scrape off all the whipped cream you’ve put on.
Then, prepare your piping bag with a star tip, and pipe little circles on the top of the cake to match the amount of berries you’ve chosen for your topping.
After that, just put the berries on top of the circles, and you’re done!
I chose to place a berry in the middle instead of a bunny….because I didn’t want to go out and buy a bunny. But, you can do whatever you like.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Have a great day! 😀