Strawberry Shortcake

Photo by 26412869@N03 / CC BY

The word Shortcake comes from a 15th century term, "to shorten," which means, "easily crumbled." [1] Adding strawberry and cream became the most popular shortcake recipe, especially in the 19th century. [2]

TASTE

 

From only three simple ingredients, a strawberry shortcake has variety of textures and flavors: hard and soft, moist and dry, sweet and tart, acid and cake. [3]

ORIGIN

 

Shortcake was an European invention that goes back at least to the late 16th century. [4] The first record of a shortcake recipe is written in a 1588 Elizabethan cookbook called "The Good Huswifes Handmaid for Cookerie in her kitchen."


However, putting strawberries and shortcake together as a recipe was a later invention in the 19th century. The earliest strawberry shortcake recipe was found in a 1847 recipe book called "The Lady's Receipt-Book" by Miss Leslie. From the book, the recipe is called Strawberry Cake instead of Strawberry shortcake. [5]

Shortcake

Photo by sofiedittmann / CC BY

1879 Advertisement on Refrigerate Car Company

 

Strawberry Shortcake Made with Pound Cake

Photo by kodamakitty / CC BY

Japanese-Style Strawberry Shortcake Made with sponge Cake

Photo by bohnenhase / CC BY

HISTORY

 

Back then, there were many difficulties in food transportation without any refrigeration. In the mid-19th century, the US began transporting  agricultural goods with ice. This includes the possibility to ship strawberries from coast to coast without spoilage. Around that period, the recipe strawberry shortcake became a hit in many American families. [6]

 

During the early 19th century, baking soda was introduced for baking goods in the United States. An early baking soda quick bread: “Soda Cakes," was first presented by Mary Randolph in a 1824 book called Virginia Housewife. As a result of using leavening agent, American shortcakes became lighter and fluffier than the original shortcakes. [7]

 

It became particularly popular around the 1850s and there were even "strawberry shortcake parties" that were purposely for celebrating summer fruit harvest. This tradition continues and the day of June 14 was chosen to become National Strawberry Shortcake Day. [8] Today, strawberry shortcake can be enjoyed all year long and is still one of the most beloved dessert around the world.

VARIATION

 

Today, it is very common to replace the traditional shortcake (biscuits) with sponge cakes, angel food cakes, corn muffin, or even puff pastry to make a modern version of strawberry shortcakes. [9] Japanese-style strawberry shortcakes typically use a sponge cake base, and are popular specially during Christmas in Japan. [10]

PREPARATION

 

To make a shortcake, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, and salt. (optional baking powder or soda) Add butter, milk, or cream until moistened. This dough is called a "shortened dough," and is ready to drop and bake until set.

To make sweeten strawberries and juices, mix sugar with sliced strawberries and allow it to sit for an hour or until the strawberries have surrendered their juices.

 

To assemble a strawberry shortcake, slice the pre-made shortcakes in half or slice a layer of cake. Cover the cake with a layer of strawberry slices, juice, and whipped cream. Finally, top it with more strawberries and whipped cream.

BASIC INGREDIENTS

 

Shortcake (flour, sugar, baking powder or soda, salt, butter, milk or cream, and sometimes eggs), strawberry, whipped cream

 

Optional

Cake Base:

sponge cake, angel food, corn muffin, puff pastry

Strawberry Juice

Cream:

Icing, flavored whipped cream

A Slice of Tiramisu Cake

Photo by 21045446@N00 / CC BY

The word, cake, is of Viking origin, from the Old Norse word "kaka". [1] The Oxford English Dictionary traces the English word cake back to the 13th century. In other languages, cake is translated to Gateau (Gateaux in plural) in French and Torte in German. [2]

 

Cakes can be savory or sweet, light or rich, porous or dense. Determining whether a given food should be classified as bread, cake, or pastry can be difficult. [3] For example, banana bread is a quick bread, but it has a texture of a cake and uses same ingredients as if a cake would have. There are many dispute on what category these desserts should be classified, but why don't we simply enjoy these goodies!

The earliest cakes were very different from what we have today. They were more like bread and usually made with simple ingredients like moistened crushed grains or nuts. [1] In Ancient Egypt, emmer and barley were used to make cakes, breads, and beer. Only the wealthy can enjoy cakes made with milled flour. There was no sugar at that time so honey was the primary sweetener. Sometimes, nuts and fruits like dates were added in the recipe too. [2]

 

In Asia, cakes were mainly made with rice, called rice cake. ("Nian Gao" in Chinese, "Mochi" in Japanese, "Tteok" in Korean) [3] It was first made around the period of Zhou Dynasty, [4]

 

Cakes covering with icing were first introduced in Europe around mid-17th century when cooking tools were more advanced and more ingredients were available. Icing was first made with only sugar and egg whites. [5]

Cakes were not only a meal or dessert to enjoy, it was used as symbols and representation for religious ceremonies and occasions celebrations from ancient times. Starting from at least the 8th century BC China, it was already a tradition to eat rice cakes during Chinese New Year for bringing good luck in the coming year. [1]

 

The first known birthday cake was recorded in the first century BCE from the book, Tristia, written by Latin poet Ovid. From his book, Ovid mentioned about celebrating his birthday with a birthday party and cake. [2] Today, cakes still play an important role in family gatherings, holiday celebrations, and ceremonial occasions like weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.

 

In different cultures and regions, different cakes are made to celebrate the same holiday. For example, fruitcake is the Christmas cake consumed in France, Germany, and United States. In Japan, a frosted sponge cake with strawberries are more common during Christmas times. [3]

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