A nice and neat strawberry shortcake--impossible? [moved from General Chowhounding Topics]
Is there such a thing as a strawberry shortcake that has a nice and neat look? I know that taste is more important than looks, but every recipe picture and photo I've seen of strawberry shortcake makes it look like a heaping gloppy mess, strawberries thrown helter skelter, mounds of cream oozing out of misshapen cake. Would like to find a photo of a crisp and tidy version--you know, the kind with nice sharp wedges you see in European dessert shops. Has anyone seen one? I'd be much more inspired to make one if I saw a beautiful picture of one, so that I could make it look that way!
Here's what we have done. Same ingredients, different result.
Make your shortcake in a cake pan. Cut in half horizontally. Spread a layer of whipped cream between the layers and then add a layer of sliced strawberries on top of that. Top with second layer of cake.
Frost the entire shortcake with whipped cream, as if it were a real cake. Decorate the top in a spiral (almost floral) pattern from inside to out with slices of strawberries. Finish off by piping rosettes along the top edge.
As many times as we've made this, we've never taken a picture.
You could also forego the biscuit-style of shortcake and use a pound cake recipe. do it in a round cake pan, Cut it carefully - or make two layers. I'd also suggest making a strawberry filling...maybe do it as a kind of strawberry curd with a few pieces of berries in it... use that ti fill the cake. Then, rather than whip-creaming the whole thing, perhaps top with whippe cream and decorate with berries on top. Serve more sliced, sugared berries on the side for those who want...or just drizzle around the slices with strawberry syrup.
Alternatively, make the cake in a tart pan with removable sides...top with cream and berries in a design.
A little secret for you... shortcake is made better with biscuits. And I wouldn't want a crisp version. I think you want something closer to a strawberry Napoleon made with cake instead of puff pastry, not shortcake. There's supposed to be more fruit and whipped cream than the biscuit can handle! I think if it looks like http://www.beyondwonderful.com/images... it's perfect. American fruit desserts all tend to be rather homely, especially compared to the architectural marvels of European desserts. Cobblers, crisps, shortcakes... they might not do much in terms of pleasing a refined eye, but they make up for it with all of that wonderful peak-season fruit.
re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
Cake or biscuits ... whipped cream ... fresh strawberries ... does it matter how it looks.
Interesting point you brought up. The only 'neat' shortcakes I've seen have been in old school European bakeries.
Whipped cream is a bit oozey ... add strawberriies ... most don't have the patience to make it neat. Here's a few recipes for the neat versions ... though they are usually called strawberries and cream cakes.