Light and airy sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries, Japanese strawberry shortcake is the most popular cake in Japan!Jump to Recipe
This is the cake I grew up eating. I used to think that this was the cake everyone grew up eating, because, kids. That’s how they think. Turns out, most people haven’t actually had a good Japanese-style strawberry shortcake. Imagine that!
In Japan, strawberry shortcake is THE cake. Every cake shop sells it, and I’m guessing that at most of them, it’s their best seller. It’s just a classic. The flavors are SO simple, but soooooo good. It’s just sponge cake, strawberries, and whipped cream (with some simple syrup brushed on the layers if you’re wanting to take it up just a tiny notch).
When I learned how to cook (shortly after graduating from college), this was one of the first things my mom taught me how to make. Sponge cake. It can seem a little intimidating, because you whip the egg whites and fold it together with the yolks. And, well, yes. The first couple times I tried to make it, I don’t think it turned out as well. Still edible, mind you. Just maybe a little more… flat. Dense.
The key is to whip the egg whites nice and fluffy, and then be quick and gentle with your folding, so you don’t deflate them back down. When I’m folding mine together, I can never get all of the egg whites to completely combine with the yolks, meaning I have a few little pockets of it in the cake. But, the cake is light yellow, so you can barely tell. And taste/texture wise? No one will know, so don’t stress it too much!
Once you try this Japanese strawberry shortcake, you will never be able to go back to regular strawberry shortcake. It’s so light, fluffy, airy, yet moist… I think my favorite thing is that it’s not cloyingly sweet. Actually, if you like cloyingly sweet, you may not like this cake. Its sweetness is “Japanese” aka, less sweet than your average Western dessert. But the light sweetness with the slight tang from the strawberries, combined with the cool creaminess of the cream. YES. It’s good.
Oh and another note. Traditional Japanese strawberry shortcake usually has a bunch of piped cream on it. Like, fancy old school decorating. I’m really not very good at that style of decorating, so I kept it really simple with a ring of strawberries around the outside. Feel free to decorate yours however you like!
Check out my quick video below, and see how I make this cake!
Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
Light and airy sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries, Japanese strawberry shortcake is the most popular cake in Japan!
- 2 eggs divided
- 1/4 cup cake flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 T milk
- 1/2 T butter melted
Filling and Decoration
- 1 cup Heavy whipping cream not ultra-pasteurized, see note
- 1 T granulated sugar or 1.5 T for sweeter taste
- 20 strawberries approximately, depending on size
- 3 T water
- 3 T sugar
Prepare: Line the bottom of a 6" springform cake pan with parchment paper, and line the sides with a strip of parchment paper. Tip: A little oil on the inside of the pan will help the parchment paper stick to the pan. Thoroughly clean a medium/large mixing bowl and the hand beater whisks to remove any traces of oil, as this will keep the egg whites from whipping up. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Divide the egg yolks and egg whites. Place the whites in your extra clean medium/large bowl, and the yolks in a small/medium bowl. Add half of the 1/4 cup of sugar to the yolks and set aside. With a hand beater, start beating the egg whites. When egg whites are frothy, add about a third of the remaining sugar. Beat some more and then add another third, beat, and then the remaining sugar. Keep beating the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. This means that when you bring your whisks up, the tips of the egg whites do not fold over (see video above). Set aside.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until fluffy and a very pale yellow. This should take 3-5 minutes or so. Using a sifter, add the cake flour to the egg yolks. Use the hand mixer to mix until just combined. Add the melted butter and milk, and again, beat until just combined.
Take about one quarter of the egg whites and fold into the egg yolks with a spatula to "lighten" the batter. Once mixed in, pour the yolks into the whites, and gently fold the batter to combine. I like to run my spatula around the edge of the bowl and bring the batter up and over into the middle, and then run my spatula through the middle and fold up and over. Make sure you get the bottom mixed in as well, as it can be easy to forget to lift up and over from the bottom. Make sure you don't overmix, or this will deflate the batter and your cake won't be fluffy. Think "light" touch. Tip: Even if there are still little pockets of whites that aren't fully mixed in, the only person who will notice will be you. So it's okay.
Pour the batter into the springform pan. If you are scraping the remaining batter into the pan, make sure not to plop it in the middle, but try to pour it to the sides. This will help keep the middle from sinking. Optional: lift the pan up a few inches and drop, on the tabletop, to help bring some of the air bubbles up. I sometimes do this and I sometimes don't, and honestly I don't know if it makes a difference, but some recipes I've seen swear you need to. Bake in the preheated oven on a middle rack for about 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Remove the springform, and peel away the parchment on the sides. Place the cake top side down, and peel away the remaining parchment paper lining the bottom. Allow to cool.
In a large bowl, whip the cream and 1T sugar until stiff. Make sure you don't overbeat or it will start getting a lumpy texture as it starts to butterfy (that's not a real word). Slice the strawberries, and save the pretty middle pieces to line the outside. Use the smaller and end pieces for the middle of the cake. Combine the 3T water and 3T sugar in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave to melt the sugar. Stir well and set aside.
Slice the cake in half, height-wise, to get two layers. On the top of the first layer, brush some simple syrup on with a pastry brush (or carefully spread some on there with a spoon). Add a layer of whipped cream, and a layer of strawberries. Top with more whipped cream, and top with the remaining cake layer. Brush some simple syrup on the top. Cover the entire cake with whipped cream. If your sides don't look perfect, don't worry, but try to keep the top smooth. Use the pretty strawberry slices to cover the side of the cake.
ultra-pasteurized cream just doesn't taste as good, and I've also heard that it's harder to whip. So, if you can, use regular pasteurized cream!