Japanese strawberry shortcake is an ethereally light and creamy dessert made of deliciously moist and fluffy sponge cake layers, filled with sliced strawberries in Chantilly cream. Decorate with luscious whole strawberries and cream – and – for that extra special yummm, sprinkle lavishly with white chocolate curls!
Hi you all, I’m really excited to share with you an amazing recipe for this gorgeous Japanese strawberry shortcake. I was in Japan for 15 glorious days for the better part of May, and what an unforgettable trip I had!
I’ve returned feeling invigorated and so tremendously inspired by all the Japanese culinary creations of traditional and Western-inspired sweet treats, cakes and desserts. It was mind-blowing!
What is Japanese strawberry shortcake?
Essentially, Japanese strawberry shortcake is a vanilla sponge cake that’s layered and filled with Chantilly cream and sliced strawberries. This cake looks so fresh and pretty when frosted and decorated with shiny, glazed whole strawberries. It’s sure to bring pleasure to everyone who sets eyes on it!
Japanese strawberry shortcake is ethereally light and creamy, and none too sweet, which makes it perfect for tea, any occasion or no occasion at all. What makes the Japanese version of strawberry shortcake extraordinarily delicious is the incredibly soft and tender sponge cake, and sweeter-than-sweet Japanese-grown strawberries.
I’m about to show you how Japanese strawberry shortcake is surprisingly simple and quick to make from scratch. Here’s what you need:
- Vanilla sponge cake – Follow my recipe for a super soft, moist and fluffy sponge cake, or you can use your own go-to sponge cake recipe.
- Sweet and juicy strawberries – Try to get the sweetest variety you can – it will make all the difference!
- Chantilly cream – This is basically your standard whipped cream lightly sweetened, by a fancy name!
How to make Japanese strawberry shortcake
When it comes to Japanese strawberry shortcake, I think the sponge cake can either make or break the cake. Seriously, guys, it’s all about the sponge! Which is why I’ve tried and tested many recipes to get the sponge cake texture just like the strawberry shortcake slices I tasted in Japan.
Can I just say, this is the best sponge cake I’ve ever made? I’ve now made this many times over, and it’s an absolute winner! It’s incredibly soft, moist and velvety smooth with just the perfect level of sweetness, in my opinion.
The key to this sponge cake’s super soft and tender texture are these two types of flour used – Optima flour and Hong Kong flour. If you can’t get these, you can use cake or pastry flour in place of both flours. You’ll still get a tender and moist sponge cake, but the texture won’t be as fine or smooth. Also, you’ll need to add a little more sugar in the recipe if you’re substituting with cake flour. Because Optima flour, being a sponge cake mix, has had sugar added into the flour.
Step-by-step: How to make the vanilla sponge cake
Once out of the oven, set the pan on a cooling rack. When the cake has cooled, remove from the pan. Slice into three equal layers. It’s now ready to be filled and frosted.
Next, fill and frost the cake
On the base or bottom layer, spread a thin layer of whipped cream . Arrange sliced strawberries over the cream, and not too close to the edges. Cover the strawberries with another thinly spread layer of whipped cream.
Place the second sponge cake layer on top, aligning it perfectly with the bottom layer. Spread a layer of whipped cream, arrange the strawberry slices, and cover with whipped cream, as before.
Finally, place the last sponge cake layer on top. With the remaining whipped cream, frost the top and all around the cake. Smoothen as best you can. Decorate with whole or strawberry halves, as desired.
Lastly, let the cake sit overnight in the refrigerator – it will taste amazing the day after!
Japanese strawberry shortcake always tastes better the day after it’s filled and frosted. Overnight chilling allows the flavours of the cake to come together beautifully. The cream frosting and fillings will have firmed up nicely, and the strawberries will have softened and taste even sweeter. Just take the cake out of the chiller about 15 to 20 minutes before the time you wish to serve it.
The best creams for frosting and filling a Japanese strawberry shortcake
The Japanese do love their cream desserts! So it’s no surprise that Japanese strawberry shortcake is traditionally filled and frosted with Chantilly cream. Remember, Chantilly is just a name for whipped dairy cream lightly sweetened with sugar.
Dairy whipping cream
If you prefer dairy whipping cream (which contains 30-35% dairy fat), you will need to add some sugar. I’ve suggested the amount of sugar in the recipe for this. So, go with dairy whipping cream if you like your frosting and fillings rich and super creamy.
Avoid using heavy cream (which contains 36-38% dairy fat) or heavy double cream (48% dairy fat). These dairy creams are too heavy and dense. Heavy creams are not ideal for Japanese strawberry shortcake.
Non-dairy whipping cream
Recently, I’ve begun switching to non-dairy whipping creams. I find that it isn’t as rich or heavy as dairy whipping creams. Non-dairy whipped cream is light and airy, which also makes it the perfect type of cream to fill and dress up this light strawberry shortcake.
In Singapore, we also have a type of non-dairy whipping cream called whip topping cream. These are slightly sweetened (eg. RED MAN brand), so you need not add sugar. This is the non-dairy cream I used here for Japanese strawberry shortcake.
That’s all there is to it! Hope you’ll give this a try and leave me your comments!
Do you love light desserts? Here are popular Asian treats you can easily bake from scratch :
- Pandan Chiffon Cake
- Cinnamon Hazelnut Chiffon Cake
- Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
- Black Sesame Chiffon Cake – A Japanese-Inspired Treat
- Soft & Moist Bakery-Style Butter Coconut Buns
Tried this recipe? I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.
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Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
For the sponge cake:
- 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 oz water
- 2 1/2 oz vegetable oil
- 1/8 tsp butter oil or vanilla extract
- 4 oz optima sponge mix
- 2 oz Hong Kong flour
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 1/4 oz caster sugar
For the Chantilly cream:
- 600 g whip topping cream (or substitute with whipping cream)
- 30 g caster sugar (only for whipping cream)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the strawberry filling and topping:
- 16-18 whole strawberries, dry
- 30 g white chocolate curls
Make the Sponge Cake:
- Pre-heat oven to 165°C (330°F) with baking shelf placed on the lowest rack in the oven. Do NOT grease the cake pan.
- Into a medium mixing bowl, sift Hong Kong flour and baking soda together. Add Optima flour and stir with a whisk to combine well.
- In another mixing bowl, place egg yolks, water, vegetable oil, butter oil (or vanilla extract). Use a whisk to stir until well mixed. Sprinkle in flour-soda mixture from step (2), 1 to 2 tbsps at a time, stirring with a whisk to mix well, before adding more. Mix until mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
- Place egg whites and cream of tartar into a dry and grease-free mixer bowl. Using a hand-held or electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip on high speed until egg whites turn frothy. Sprinkle in the sugar a little at a time, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
- Add one-third of the whipped egg white mixture to the wet flour mixture from step (3), fold gently by hand with a spatula. Then add all the remaining whipped egg whites and fold gently, moving always in one direction, until well mixed.
- Pour out into prepared cake pan and level the surface. Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to eliminate air pockets. Bake at 165°C (330°F) for 50 to 60 minutes, or until done. To test: (a) Insert a skewer into the centre of the the cake, it is done when it emerges clean and free of sticky batter; AND/OR (b) press your fingers gently on the centre, the cake is done if it feels pillowy and springs back to the touch; AND/OR (c) insert an instant-read thermometer into the centre of the cake, the cake is done when it's internal temperature reaches 98°C (210°F).
- Once immediately out of the oven, invert the cake pan onto a cooling rack, and let it 'hang' for 15 minutes. Turn the cake pan back on its base, run a knife around the pan to loosen the sides and remove the cake. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, if you choose to wash your strawberries, make sure that they are patted very dry with paper towels. Choose 13 (more or less) of the nicest strawberries for decorating the top of the cake. Slice the rest for the filling.
Make Chantilly cream:
- Place the mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the chiller or freezer for at least 30 mins. Make sure whip topping cream (or substitute with whipping cream) is kept chilled until ready for whipping. When ready, place the whip topping cream (or substitute with whipping cream) and vanilla extract in the mixer bowl. (Note: Add sugar only if using whipping cream)
- Using a hand-held or electric mixer, whisk on high speed until the cream just starts to thicken - you will start to see the whisk lines faintly trailing in the cream as you whisk. Reduce to medium speed, continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.Cover with cling wrap and keep chilled until ready to use. (Note: Be careful not to over-whip as whipped cream goes from soft to stiff very quickly – over-whipped cream will start to turn buttery. If this happens, you will have to start over with a fresh batch of cream).
Complete the cake:
- Slice the sponge cake into 3 layers. Spoon some Chantilly cream onto one layer and spread evenly. Arrange half of strawberry slices evenly over the cream,leaving the edge of the cake clear by half an inch (1-cm), and top with enough Chantilly cream to cover the slices.
- Place the second sponge layer on top. Spoon some Chantilly cream onto the second layer and spread evenly. Arrange the remaining strawberry slices evenly, leaving the edge of the cake clear by half an inch (1-cm). Top with enough cream to cover the slices.
- Finally, place the third layer on top. Spread enough Chantilly cream to cover the top and sides of the cake, reserving some for decorating.
- Transfer the remaining Chantilly cream to a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice. Pipe a border all around on top. Decorate the bottom of the cake with a border of white chocolate curls, if desired.
- Chill the frosted cake in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. When ready to serve, arrange whole strawberries in the centre of the cake. Sprinkle remaining white chocolate curls over the strawberries, if desired.