Strawberry shortcake on a cake stand.

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: cake, shortcake, strawberry
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 1 8 inch (20 cm) cake
Author: Nami

Moist, airy, and light Japanese strawberry shortcake recipe with homemade whipped cream. This simple and elegant cake is perfect for celebrating all occasions. Detailed step-by-step picture instructions included.



For the sponge cake

  • 40 g unsalted butter (3 Tbsp)
  • 30 ml whole milk (2 Tbsp) (See Note)
  • 4 large eggs (1 egg no shell = 47-50 g)
  • 120 g sugar (½ cup + 2 Tbsp)
  • 120 g cake flour (roughly 1 cup) (No cake flour? See Notes)
  • Shortening/Cooking Spray/Butter

For the syrup

  • 30 ml water (2 Tbsp)
  • 38 g sugar (3 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp your liquor of choice (Optional; See Notes)

For the cream

  • 473 ml heavy (whipping) cream (2 cups/1 Pint package) (36%, at least 30-35% fat)
  • 38 g sugar (3 Tbsp) (use 8% of heavy cream: 473 ml x 8 % = 38g)

For decoration

  • 450 g Strawberries (1 lb) (for filling and decoration – buy extra) (See Notes)
  • 10 blueberries
  • mint leaves


  1. Gather all the ingredients.

    Strawberry Shortcake Ingredients I

Before we start

  1. Make sure the eggs and butter are at room temperature. Sift the cake flour at least twice.
    Strawberry Shortcake 1
  2. Place the cake pan on top of parchment paper, trace around the pan and cut out the circle. Grease one side of the parchment paper and also both bottom and sides of the cake pan with shortening/cooking spray/butter. Then fit the parchment paper in the cake pan. (I avoid parchment paper on the side because sometimes it pulls the batter and affect the final result of the cake).
    Strawberry Shortcake 2
  3. Preheat oven to 350 ºF (180 ºC). If you use a convection oven, preheat to 325 ºF (160 ºC). It’s always better to preheat longer, preferably 15-20 mins longer. (see Notes below for the reason).

    Strawberry Shortcake 3
  4. Prepare a double boiler. If you have never done this before, please see Notes section below. Turn on the stove’s heat to high and bring the water in the saucepan (Pot A) to a rapid boil. When boiling, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Put the 40g (3 Tbsp) of butter in the small bowl (Bowl #1) and set over the saucepan. Let the butter melt gently.
    Strawberry Shortcake 4
  5. Once the butter is melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan. Then add 30 ml (2 Tbsp.) whole milk and whisk to combine. Set aside to keep it around 104 ºF (40 ºC).

    Strawberry Shortcake 5

For the sponge cake

  1. In the stand mixer bowl (Bowl #2), add 4 eggs and break the egg yolks and whites.
    Strawberry Shortcake 6
  2. Add 120 g (½ cup + 2 Tbsp) sugar and whisk to combine.
    Strawberry Shortcake 7
  3. In the large pot (Pot B), bring about 2 inches of water to 140 ºF or 60 ºC and maintain the temperature. Then set the stand mixer bowl (Bowl #2) directly in the pot and whisk constantly so the eggs don’t become scrambled eggs. This method is called bain marie (or water bath), where the bowl of food is set directly in a larger container of hot or simmering water. You can also use the double boiler method, where you set the egg mixture bowl (Bowl #2) over the Pot B. The bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water of the pot. In both cases, the water tempers the heat to permit gentle, even cooking.

    Strawberry Shortcake 8
  4. Whisk until the temperature of the egg mixture reaches 104 ºF (40 ºC). Remove Bowl #2 from Pot B and set it up on the stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

    Strawberry Shortcake 9
  5. Whisk on high speed (level 10) until the mixture is fluffy, for about 2 minutes. The batter should be loose yet thick and glossy.
    Strawberry Shortcake 10
  6. When the batter is pale and fluffy and tripled in volume, slow down to low speed (level 4) for several seconds. Stop and lift up some of the mixture and fold it in, and if the batter stays on top of the mixture, that’s “ribbon stage” (see Notes). Remove from the stand mixer. 
    Strawberry Shortcake 11
  7. Add half of the flour. Using the whisk, fold gently but thoroughly. Do this by rotating your bowl slowly, and simultaneously moving your whisk in a downward-then-over motion.
    Strawberry Shortcake 12
  8. Add the rest of the flour and fold gently to make sure all the flour is incorporated quickly so your mixture doesn’t deflate.
    Strawberry Shortcake 13
  9. Take out 1 (spatula) scoop of the batter from the bowl and add to the butter & milk mixture.
    Strawberry Shortcake 14
  10. Mix very well. We incorporate butter into batter first because fat in butter will deflate the batter if we add the butter directly.
    Strawberry Shortcake 15
  11. Add the mixture back to the batter by pouring over the silicon spatula. This prevents the mixture from deflating the batter and helps disperse the mixture. Gently fold in. When you lift the spatula, the batter should fold down like ribbon.
    Strawberry Shortcake 16
  12. Pour the batter into the center of the cake pan, from right above the cake pan. You want to avoid introducing extra air into the batter at this point. Collect the leftover batter in the bowl and pour around the edges of the cake pan, not the center.
    Strawberry Shortcake 17
  13. Drop the cake pan on the counter to release air bubbles in the batter.

    Strawberry Shortcake 18
  14. In the preheated oven, bake at 350 ºF (180 ºC) (or for a convection oven 325 ºF (160 ºC)) for 20-25 minutes. Check if the sponge cake is done by inserting a skewer in the middle and comes out clean. Meanwhile, move on to the cake assemble prepping stage.

    Strawberry Shortcake 19
  15. As soon as you take out the cake pan from the oven, drop it on the counter to give shock to the cake (so it stops shrinking). Separate the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife or offset spatula around the pan.
    Strawberry Shortcake 20
  16. Take the cake out of the pan by placing the wire rack on top and flipping it over. 

    Strawberry Shortcake 21
  17. Immediately remove the parchment paper.
    Strawberry Shortcake 22
  18. Place another wire rack on top and flip it back. The top of the cake is now facing up.
    Strawberry Shortcake 23
  19. Cover the cake with a damp towel until cooled (to keep moisture in the cake). Make sure the towel is thin (not heavy) and squeeze the water out VERY tightly so that it’s damp, not wet. I use IKEA’s thin dish towel. If you keep the sponge cake for later use, wrap with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge (See Notes).
    Strawberry Shortcake 24

Preparation for cake assembly (while the cake is baking)

  1. Divide the strawberries into 2 groups, for decoration and for filling. Keep the beautiful, same-sized strawberries for the decoration. Remove the husk and clean the strawberries with damp paper towel (do not wash, as we don’t want strawberries to have moisture and become moldy). Slice off the core for all the strawberries.
    Strawberry Shortcake 25
  2. For the strawberries that we use for topping, cut in half. For the strawberries that we use for filling, slice them into ¼ inch (5 mm) slices.
    Strawberry Shortcake 26
  3. To make syrup, in a small bowl (Bowl #3), combine 30 ml (2 Tbsp) water, 38 g (3 Tbsp) sugar, 1 Tbsp. liquor, and microwave for 1 minute to dissolve the sugar.
    Strawberry Shortcake 27

For whipping cream (while cake is cooling)

  1. Prepare ice bath by placing ice cubes and water in a large bowl (Bowl #4). Place a clean and dry mixing bowl (Bowl #2) over and add 473 ml (1 Pint) heavy cream and 38 g (3 Tbsp) sugar to keep cool.
    Strawberry Shortcake 28
  2. Once cooled, transfer the mixing bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on high speed. The cream will become thicker and smooth. When you lift the whisk out of the cream while it’s still liquid, but holds it shape as it drops, then it’s ready. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and put it back in the ice bath.
    Strawberry Shortcake 29

The cake assembly

  1. With a serrated knife, slice the middle of the cake horizontally into half. Now you have 2 layers (top and bottom).
    Strawberry Shortcake 30
  2. Place the bottom of the cake on the cake circle. Brush the syrup on top and the sides of the bottom layer. This will keep the sponge cake stay moist.
    Strawberry Shortcake 31
  3. Start to whisk the cream at one location by the edge of the bowl instead of whisking the entire cream. We will be making the whipped cream as we need. With this approach, we can also control the hardness of the cream.
    Strawberry Shortcake 32
  4. When the cream reaches “soft peaks”, take out the cream and transfer to the bottom of the cake. Soft peaks means when you lift the whisk, the cream will hold its line but the top peaks will be soft and after a second or two will fall back on itself.
    Strawberry Shortcake 33
  5. Spread the whipped cream evenly. If the whipped cream is not enough, whip more and add onto the cake.
    Strawberry Shortcake 34
  6. Place the strawberries on top of the whipped cream as you see in the pictures. Keep the center area open by not covering with strawberries. This will be easier to cut the cake into slices.
    Strawberry Shortcake 35
  7. Whip the cream again at the edge of the bowl.
    Strawberry Shortcake 36
  8. Transfer the whipped cream to the top of the strawberry layer. Spread just enough cream to cover the strawberries, do not put too much.
    Strawberry Shortcake 38
  9. Place the top layer of the sponge cake. Brush the syrup on the top and sides of the sponge cake.
    Strawberry Shortcake 39
  10. Whip more cream and place on the top.
    Strawberry Shortcake 40
  11. Place the tip of the offset spatula in the center at 30 degree angle, turn cake turntable toward you to create a smooth top. Lightly cover the sides of the cake with thin layer of the cream.
    Strawberry Shortcake 41
  12. Now add more cream to the side little by little. Place the offset spatula at 90 degree angle and push the turning table away from you.
    Strawberry Shortcake 42
  13. Remove the excess cream from the cake and put back into the bowl.
    Strawberry Shortcake 43

For cake decoration

  1. For a basic decoration, I use Wilton 2A decoration tip. Put the tip in the piping bag and cut off the tip so the metal will show from the bag. Fold the top half of the bag outward as you see in the picture (over the hands).
    Strawberry Shortcake 44
  2. Whip the cream to “stiff peaks”. When you lift the whisk, the peaks will hold firm. Put the cream into the piping bag. Once you fill out the bag half way, lift the bag and push the cream down to the tip.
    Strawberry Shortcake 45
  3. Squeeze the pipe to test to make sure the cream comes out smoothly. When you’re ready, hold the piping bag at 90 degree angle and squeeze about 1 inch diameter of whipped cream around the edge of the cake. This will be the base for the strawberries.
    Strawberry Shortcake 46
  4. Decorate and place the strawberries sideways on top of the whipped cream. Then squeeze more whipped cream in between strawberries, dropping small whipped cream all around. Place blueberries between the whipped cream dollops. Place the small mint leaves in some area to add colors.
    Strawberry Shortcake 47
  5. Keep the cake in the refrigerator and enjoy it in 2 days.

Recipe Notes

Cake flour: If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute with all-purpose flour and corn starch. Here’s how.



Whole milk: I highly recommend using whole milk instead of reduced fat milk. I’ve tried using both, and I concluded that whole fat milk makes a difference with the final result.


Liquor of your choice: I like orange liqueurs like Grand Manier or Cointreau. You can skip the alcohol in the syrup.


Strawberries: If you like to decorate your cake with strawberries, you want to look for similar size strawberries to make it look pretty. Buy an extra pack to increase your chance of finding same size strawberries!


Preheat oven: You preheat the oven so that all the surfaces inside your oven (walls, floor, door, racks) are the desired cooking temperature, which makes for more even temperatures throughout the oven and you won’t lose as much heat when you open the door for a few seconds. Depending on your oven, preheating might take 10 to 20 minutes.


Double boiler: Put 1 to 2 inches of water in the bottom saucepan and set a glass/metal mixing bowl over it. Just make sure the bottom of the mixing bowl doesn’t touch the surface of the water. The water from the bottom saucepan transfers a gentle, steady heat to whatever you're cooking in the bowl above. Check the bottom pan every now and then to make sure the water hasn’t boiled off, and add more water if needed.


Bain-marie: It's the fancy term for a hot water bath, creating a gentle and uniform heat around the food.


Ribbon stage: a cooking term used to measure how well egg yolk and sugar are beaten together. When you lift the whisk into the air with some of the mixture on it, the mixture will fall back into the bowl in ribbons, which only slowly disappear back into the mixture.


Make ahead: You can make the sponge cake a day before. It actually tastes better and it's easier to slice the cake into half. Make sure to wrap the cake with plastic wrap after it's cooled completely. If you decide to make the shortcake ahead of time, remember that it tastes great for 2 days after you assembled the cake. Due to fresh strawberries and whipped cream, the cake won't taste as good on the 3rd day.


Equipment you will need:


Optional Equipment (but nice to have!):


Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.