Today is my birthday, and this….
…is my birthday cake.
It doesn’t have sprinkles. Or frosting. Or a scripted “Happy Birthday” swirled across the top.
It doesn’t even have chocolate.
And you know what? I wouldn’t ask for anything else on my birthday.
This, my friends, is my all time favorite (FAV-O-RITE) cake.
I know it doesn’t look like much. And truthfully, it’s not. It’s a humble cake, with a dense texture and simple, slightly sweet flavor.
The true magic doesn’t come until you put it in a bowl.
And do this.
It’s hard for me to even explain what takes place in that bowl, but it’s nothing short of amazing.
The sweet, juicy strawberries melt into the warm cake, while the cold milk soaks into every nook and cranny.
It’s summer dessert perfection.
I realize this looks a little different than the traditional strawberry shortcake. After seeing the title you probably expected layers of strawberries and cream smashed between sweet, flaky biscuits. And don’t get me wrong, that’s good stuff.
But if I can be so bold, I’ll tell you this stuff blows traditional strawberry shortcake out of the water.
I grew up on this cake. Every year when we brought home the first hull of fresh strawberries they always got smashed up and served with this cake. And I’m pretty sure we froze smashed strawberries just so we could enjoy this treat year round. It’s a family tradition, and it’s just not summer (or my birthday) without it.
I just have a couple tips if you’re making this cake for the first time.
1. I’ve baked this in both a rectangular pan and a bundt pan, but it definitely bakes much more evenly in the bundt pan. Just make sure to grease it REALLY well.
2. This cake is best served warm. Even if you can’t serve it fresh out of the oven, give it a zap in the microwave. The warm cake is the perfect compliment to the…
3. ICE COLD MILK. You can’t beat it. And while you’re at it, why not just go crazy and try full fat milk. Talk about a treat!
4. Get a big spoon. I know it sounds silly, but you’ll want a big spoon to capture all the strawberry, milk, and cakey goodness in one perfect bite.
This is a great choice for your Fourth of July celebrations, summer barbecues, or family reunions. I hope this strawberry shortcake can become as much a part of your family’s summer as it is ours!
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!
Strawberry Shortcake (Cottage Pudding)
The recipe is a well worn one in my mom's recipe files. The word "Shortcake" is scrawled across the top with "Cottage Pudding" in parenthesis beside it. I did a little research and learned that cottage pudding is "a traditional American cake consisting of a plain, dense cake served with a sweet glaze or custard." (Thanks Wikipedia!) I'm still not exactly sure how our family got ahold of the recipe or how they discovered it was the perfect match for strawberries and milk. All I know is, it will forever be our very favorite strawberry shortcake.
For the shortcake
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the strawberries
- 4 quarts fresh strawberries, smashed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2-1 cup milk per serving
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heavily grease and flour a bundt pan. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together shortening and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
- With the mixture on low speed, add about a third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture followed by half the milk. Mix on low speed until combined. Add another third of the flour and the remainder of the milk and mix until combined. Add the final third of the flour and beat on medium speed until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- For the strawberries, combine smashed strawberries and ½ cup sugar in a large bowl and stir together. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a year.
- To serve, place slice of warmed shortcake in a bowl. Add several large spoonfuls of strawberries followed by the desired amount of cold milk. (Ice cream or almond milk can also work--just make sure it's nice and COLD!) Slurp and enjoy!