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.
Gather all the ingredients.
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).
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).
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.
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.
Drop the cake pan on the counter to release air bubbles in the batter.
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.
Take the cake out of the pan by placing the wire rack on top and flipping it over.
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.