Strawberry Tres Leches Shortcake
Makes 12 Strawberry Shortcakes
As we were brainstorming about this month's recipes, we hit upon this idea of taking the traditional shortcake dessert and switching out the shortcake for a tres leches soaked yellow cake, giving it a Mexican twist. Jennifer Jones, the pastry chef from Topolo is using a similar cake right now on her dessert menu, and I think it serves as the perfect backdrop to the strawberries. This cake freezes well, so you can bake it ahead, pull it out of the freezer, and be able to assemble this amazing dessert in a snap. It's also versatile enough to use throughout the summer as the other berries come into season.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup raspberry liqueur
OR for an non-alcoholic version, you can substitute orange juice
1 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1. The cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 17 x 12-inch half sheet pan, then line with parchment paper and butter and flour the paper.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Place the softened butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each until just combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk in 3 stages. Mix until each addition is incorporated, taking care not to overbeat. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared sheet pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and the center springs back. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Once completely cool, cut out twelve 4-inch circles using a biscuit cutter. Place the cake circles on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. (If you're working ahead, wrap well and freeze.) Using a wooden skewer, poke holes all over the surface of the cake. This will help the cake absorb the tres leches mixture more evenly.
2. Tres Leche. Combine the milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk in an 8 x 8 baking dish. Dip each cake circle into the tres leches mixture, gently flipping the cake to ensure that each piece has evenly absorbed the liquid. Place the soaked cake back onto the baking sheet until you're ready to assemble the dessert. You can do this step earlier in the day, just wrap and refrigerate.
3. Strawberries. Scoop the sliced strawberries into a bowl, sprinkle the sugar over the top along with the raspberry liqueur or orange juice and gently stir to combine. Allow the strawberries to marinate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain the strawberries, reserving the syrup separately.
4. Finishing the shortcakes. When you're ready to assemble, using a metal spatula, transfer one of the cake circles onto a plate. Smear a dollop of whipped cream over the top, pile on the strawberries and drizzle on some of the reserved syrup.