This is a decadent, wickedly good and totally fresh dessert. It features buttery shortcake, fresh cream, fresh strawberries and a secret “soak” borrowed from a tres leche cake recipe I found online. I also borrow the pairing of field-to-table fresh strawberries with sweet-tart pomegranate syrup from a recipe given to Robin and me many moons ago.
This is one of the tastiest strawberry shortcakes you’ll ever experience. For my Ojai Valley friends: think Boccali’s “Famous Strawberry Shortcake” on steroids.
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup butter (room temp)
2 cups coconut sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs
¾ cup milk
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
½ cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Filling and Frosting Ingredients:
1½ cups seedless strawberry jam (divided)
2½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 quart fresh sliced strawberries
Pomegranate Reduction Ingredients:
8 ounces pomegranate juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x9x2-inch baking or casserole dish with cooking spray. It’s important that it be 2” to 2½“ high.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and whisk until creamy and thoroughly mixed. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir to combine. Set aside.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside.
Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. Stir until the flour is completely incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and place in the oven. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 20 minutes in the pan. Carefully remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a baking rack.
While the shortcake is baking, stir together the “soak” ingredients (milk through vanilla extract) in a large bowl. Set aside.
Once the cake has cooled, use a large knife to slice the cake in half horizontally. Place the top layer of cake on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side up. Slowly pour half the “soak” over the top of the bottom layer allowing it to soak into the cake. After the liquid has soaked in, spread half the jam over the top of the layer and cover with a layer of sliced strawberries. Place the other layer, bottom-side up, on top of the first layer and slowly pour the remaining soaking liquid over the top. After the liquid has soaked in, spread the remaining jam over the top layer and cover with another layer of strawberries.
Whip the cream to soft peaks, add the sugar, and then whip to stiff peaks. Frost the cake all over with the whipped cream. Decorate the top with the strawberries. Carefully cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
To make the pomegranate reduction, pour the pomegranate juice into a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Keep boiling (watch it carefully) until the juice is reduced by about half. Remove the pomegranate reduction from heat, pour into a cup and set aside to cool until ready to use.
To serve, drizzle the pomegranate reduction onto a chilled dessert plate. I like to make a crosshatch pattern on the plate. Cut a 3×3-inch square of cake and carefully place it in the middle of the plate. Try not to drool as you serve each piece. There will be plenty enough left for the cook!