Japanese Strawberry Shortcake いちごのショートケーキ

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

Strawberry Shortcake is probably one of the most popular and classic cakes in Japan.  Whether it’s for birthdays, Christmas (did you know this cake is also sold as “Christmas Cake”?) or any type of celebrations, we enjoy Strawberry Shortcake all year round. Cakes have such a special place in Japanese culture that we even bring them when we visit friends and family.

If you need a classy dessert to serve at your dinner party or something special for a bridal shower, a beautiful homemade Japanese Strawberry Cake fits the bill for the most special occasions. With some basics from the pantry, this simple yet elegant cake is one to remember when celebration season hits. Or when strawberry is in season in your area, you have good enough reason to whip up this sweet treat to celebrate. I promise, your guests will fall hard for it!

What is Japanese Strawberry Shortcake?
The concept of Japanese Strawberry Shortcake may have been originated in the US with some adaptation. Instead of sweet biscuits, a Japanese strawberry shortcake is made of 2-3 layers of sponge cake, with fresh strawberry slices, whipped cream filling, and whipped cream frosting.

The majority of recipes for Japanese strawberry shortcakes are very similar, so what makes them different?  It all comes down to the various techniques you use when making it.  I want to thank my dear friend Naomi for spending hours in my kitchen testing different variations of strawberry shortcake recipes with me.  We spent days testing and made so many cakes, and we decided this is by far the best one.

Because this recipe requires detailed explanations, it was impossible for Mr. JOC to take step-by-step pictures AND film the video at the same time.  Therefore, we decided to focus on the step by step pictures this time because I can’t explain everything in our short video.  We’ll add a video for this recipe in the future.

Components of Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
This recipe is probably the longest recipe ever on my blog, with close to 50 steps.  I know it’s a bit of an overkill but I really think these step-by-step pictures are helpful and I can explain the step a little more in details along the way.

Japanese strawberry shortcake consists of 3 components: sponge cake, whipped cream, and strawberries.  It’s simple as that.  However, to create the perfect sponge cake and whipped cream involves many techniques.

And to make a really good shortcake, precise measurement (please use a kitchen scale and thermometer!) really helps, especially if you don’t bake often.

Sponge Cake

Japanese sponge cake is very moist, airy, light, and it’s not overly sweet.  Personally I think this is the most important part of the cake.

The sponge cake is a genoise cake, made by beating air into the eggs to make it rise rather than using a chemical leavening agent like baking soda or baking powder.

The dimensions of the sponge cake we need to consider include sweetness, the elasticity, and the texture.

The sponge cake cannot be too sweet or else it overpowers the whipped cream and the tartness of the strawberry.  The sweetness has to be perfectly balanced with the rest of the cake.

When you bite into the sponge cake, it needs to have some elasticity and firmness of bite.  Once again, if it’s too hard or too soft, it ruins the cake.

Lastly and probably the most critical is the texture of the sponge cake.  The size of the bubbles within the sponge needs to be consistent. It should not be too rough on the tongue yet it does need some structure so you can feel them.  This is probably the part I tested the most to achieve the perfect result.

By the way, if you want to bake a flat cake (my cake is a little curve on the top), I found a great article to solve this problem!

Freshly Whipped Cream

To make freshly whipped cream is not too difficult.  Before you begin whipping cream, make sure to chill your bowl and the heavy cream so that the cream will stay cold longer during the whipping process.  Basically, cream whips better when it’s cold.  The temperature affects how long it requires to whip, how light and fluffy it will get, and how long it is likely to stay that way (more science here).

My friend and I have tested the different amount of sugar and we concluded that 8% of sugar to heavy whipping cream ratio gives perfect sweetness for the cake.

Fresh Strawberries

Fresh strawberries may be not the easiest ingredient to purchase depends on where you live.  I know I’m spoiled in California where we literally have strawberries all year round.  When you select the strawberries, make sure they are equal in size and not too large so they’ll be more visually appealing.

Last note, since we do not wash the strawberries but clean them with damp cloth (to prevent them from going bad and adding moisture to the cream.), I do recommend buying organic ones.

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake on a glass plate.

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake for the Holidays
After several recipe testings,  I am really happy with my results. My friends and family who enjoyed the cake agreed as well.  Since then, I’ve served the Japanese strawberry shortcake several times over the holidays and it’s been a huge hit.

The flavor and texture of strawberry shortcake get even better if you let it rest overnight, so it is also a great make-ahead treat.

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake ストロベリーショートケーキ I Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Prep Time
2 hrs
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 25 mins

Course: Dessert
Servings: 1 8 inch (20 cm) cake

For the sponge cake
40 g unsalted butter (40 g = 3 Tbsp)
30 ml whole milk (30 mi = 2 Tbsp) (See Note)
4 large eggs (1 egg no shell = 50 g)
120 g granulated sugar (120 g = ½ cup + 2 Tbsp)
120 g cake flour (roughly 1 cup) (No cake flour? See Note)
Shortening/Cooking Spray/Butter
For the syrup
30 ml water (30 ml = 2 Tbsp)
38 g granulated sugar (38 g = 3 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp your liquor of choice (See Note)
For the cream
473 ml heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (473 ml = 2 cups/1 Pint package) (36%, at least 30-35% fat)
38 g granulated sugar (38 g = 3 Tbsp) (use 8% of heavy cream: 473 ml x 8 % = 38g)
For decoration
450 g Strawberries (450 g = 1 lb) (for filling and decoration – buy extra) (See Note)
10 blueberries
mint leaves


Gather all the ingredients.

Strawberry Shortcake Ingredients I
Before we start
Make sure the eggs and butter are at room temperature. Sift the cake flour at least twice.
Strawberry Shortcake 1
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
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). If you use convection oven, preheat to 325F (160C). It’s always better to preheat longer, preferably 15-20 mins longer. (see Notes below for the reason).
Strawberry Shortcake 3
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
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 104F (40C).

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