If you don’t know about and who CW is, check out Monday’s post: Meet CW.
Growing up, Mom would make a very particular kind of strawberry shortcake at least once every summer. She would buy a “Family Style Shortcake” from Dillons, like this:
Then she mixed the tar out of sliced strawberries with honey (to help the strawberry juice come out to play with the honey) and poured that on top, put Dream Whip over that, and served it up once a year in summer after picnics in the park. Don’t know why, but that’s always when we had strawberry shortcake–after picnics in the park. Anyway, since we very rarely had anything sweet, this was such a lovely treat and I particularly loved the flavor of the ripe berries with the local, raw honey.
Mom’s simple strawberry shortcake was so delicious, and just the idea of it brings back fond and mouth-watering memories. But I wanted to be able to create it at home because, although we can still find the exact same shortcake at Dillons that Mom bought twenty years ago, who knows how long they’ll continue to make these and when they stop, I still want to be able to enjoy CW’s shortcake. And I want my grandchildren, or great nephews and nieces at the very least, to be able to enjoy this shortcake. And their grandchildren after that. CW’s shortcake must live on!
Since my youngest sister, Lacey, manages a Dillons deli, I first checked with her to see if she could possibly snag the recipe for me. In a way, I was happy to hear they weren’t baked in house but shipped in. That meant it was experimentation time! I’m not always in the mood to create a recipe from scratch, but I was definitely up for this challenge since the shortcake holds a special place in my heart.
So here’s what I had to go off of to recreate the recipe (yes, I totally stood two inches from the ingredients list to take this picture and yes, I might have gotten some strange looks):
Based on the cake’s texture, flavor, and the ingredients, I decided this cake was pretty much a low-fat sponge cake so I Googled a lot of recipes to create my own that reflected these ingredients as closely as possible. I did omit the buttermilk since it seemed too fussy to have two different kinds of milk, but did add in some vinegar to replace the acidity lost. I also didn’t mess with any ingredients cooks normally wouldn’t have in their kitchens, like whey and dextrin. What is dextrin anyway?
I’m happy to report that while I don’t think I got it spot on, it was close enough that when Lacey tasted it, although she claimed to not remember eating CW’s strawberry shortcake growing up, she looked up with big eyes and said, “I totally remember this taste. I don’t remember eating it, but I remember this taste!”
The cake from Dillons is crusted with sugar so I did that with mine, though it’s not necessary. It’s just kinda pretty. :) The cake I created is very spongy and dry, perfect for absorbing the delicious honeyed strawberry juice. Because of its texture, I really wouldn’t recommend using it in any recipe that doesn’t have a juicy topping–that juice is really needed to soften the cake. While the cake is very soft and bouncy to the touch, the texture is tough to cut because it’s so spongy, and it’s hard to cut with a fork until the juices have flowed down into the nooks and crannies of the cake. Once that happens though, you have tender, strawberry cake magic.
I was pretty impressed with the response I got from this cake. I shared it with my family twice, serving one cake at our Independence Day barbecue, then froze the second cake (the recipe makes two) and broke it out a week and a half later for our dessert after a barbecue at the lake. I usually have to ask my family what they think to get any feedback but all I had to do this time was sit back and let the accolades rain down. Adjectives such as amazing, best ever, and incredible were used liberally. Honestly, I’m pretty sure this cake now beats out THE Mocha Crunch Cake for favorite family cake. Check out my nephew gobbling it up at the lake (unless you’re averse to messy kid eaters, then you might want to steer clear):
I stuck with CW’s recipe for the strawberry topping, only using the berries and honey, and it’s just so stinkin’ good. Please try this topping, even if you buy your cake. Just make sure your honey is local and raw to get the best flavor. Also, local raw honey can help with allergies! Bonus!
For the whipped cream, you can use whatever you prefer–Cool Whip, Dream Whip, real whipped cream, or you can use the recipe for stabilized whipped cream I shared yesterday. I first made it with the stabilized whipped cream and the second time with Cool Whip and it was loved both ways. The strawberry topping is the star of this cake and I don’t think you can go wrong as long as you’ve got that. Who would have thought that honey and strawberries could create such magic?
CW’s Strawberry Shortcake
This cake is perfect for making ahead. Prepare each component in advance, then assemble right before serving.
Printable recipe with picture
½ cup whole milk
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 lb. fresh strawberries
¼ cup local raw honey
Optional: for a patriotic dessert, add 1 cup fresh blueberries
1 recipe stabilized whipped cream or whipped topping of choice
For the cake, in small saucepan, heat milk until bubbles form around edge of pan. Remove from heat; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 8” round cake pans; set aside.
Sift flour with cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In small bowl of electric mixer, at high speed, beat eggs and cream of tartar together five minutes on high speed, until light and foamy. Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar, beating for an additional five minutes, or until ribbons form. Add vanilla and vinegar and mix just until combined. Blend in flour mixture on low just until smooth. Add warm milk and beat just until combined.
Immediately pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Turn the cakes out onto cooling racks. Place the racks over the sink and while they are still hot, using the remaining ¼ cup sugar, sprinkle sugar over the tops and rub it along the sides of the cakes. Allow to cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap or putting in gallon-sized Ziploc bags until ready to use. You will only need one cake for this recipe so you can either freeze one for later, or double the berry topping and whipped cream and serve both cakes at once.
For the berry topping, combine the strawberries and honey in a medium bowl and stir for about 2-5 minutes, until the strawberries start to release their juices and the sauce gets thinner and takes on a red color. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If adding blueberries, stir them in before refrigerating or right before topping the cake.
To assemble the cake for serving, place cake on a plate, then cover with the berry mixture, including the juices so they can seep down into the cake. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes so the juices can soak in, then top with whipped cream, slice, and serve.
Veronica’s note: I originally used nonfat milk since that’s what is used in the Dillon’s cake. The last time I made it, I only had whole milk and it made the cake so much better for it to have a little fat, so I updated the recipe. You can still use nonfat, it’s good that way, but better, more tender, with the whole milk.
Can’t wait to try this! Although, I don’t like whipped topping, I have a feeling my family will love it! My daughter doesn’t like frosting (I know crazy, right!?), but she loves strawberries. I am going to make this for her. Two questions: One, where can we get good, local honey in Wichita? Two, do you have a recommendation for a good sifter? Mine stinks! It is just from Target and has the handle you pull, but it does not work very well and takes quite some time to sift anything!
Thanks for sharing!
Yes. She is crazy. ;) Go to Whole Foods or Food 4 Thought–they both sell good honey. Sometimes Dillons has Fowlers but that’s rare any more. I know about your sifting woes! I had the kind you squeeze-takes forever. I will ask my hubby-he found the old fashioned kind for me that you crank but he’s not here right now. Will get back with you later!
I went back and read the CW post, I am glad you shared it with us and I am sure it made you feel good as well. This cake looks awesome, I think Strawberry shortcake might be my favorite way to enjoy strawberries.
Thanks Rhonda, I think it’s mine too! Though I do want to try stuffing them with a cheesecake filling and dipping in graham cracker crumbs.
Your strawberry shortcake looks delicious! A bit of honey with the berries sounds interesting, I would be willing to try that :) I always just buy those little shortcakes when I make this. Homemade would be much better!
Looks delish, Veronica! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for posting! I would have to say that strawberry shortcake is my very favorite-est cake!
So hot here in the midwest, isn’t it? Missouri =misery right now! Sure wish we could get a couple of solid days of rain.
Yes and yes, please Lord bring the rain!
This is officially the cake I want for my birthday next year! I’ll pass the recipe on to Adam to make at the appropriate time. =)
I love how drizzly the strawberries look, casually overloading the cake – the best kind of shortcake there is :D
I could eat a whole one if you made it!
Choc Chip Uru
Funny thing about the drizzly strawberries–the juices spread out pretty fast b/c my drunken sister’s b/f kept picking up the cake and shaking it while I was trying to take a picture, acting like he was going to throw it over my shoulder just to get a rise out of me. I would scream like crazy (some people just do not understand how seriously food bloggers take their food photos). After the third time of me screaming and him acting like a dork, Dennis stopped his conversation with another lake-goer to tell Jimmy to put the cake down so I could take a pic, in a very stern & threatening voice. It was kinda sexy to see him take control like that and Jimmy totes complied. Dennis was getting ready to break out the kung fu! So anyway, thanks to Jimmy, the photo was a little prettier b/c he helped the juices start rolling. lol
this looks incredible! and by the way- i loved reading about your mom :) it’s awesome how god works in families!
Thanks Sarah, I agree-He is awesome.
Whoa! You did such an awesome job recreating this foodie memory! The cake looks absolutely delightful!
Thanks for sharing! Really hope I can do something like that! =)
How many people does this serve? I would love to take this to my bridge group Sunday…there will be about 15 people…should I make both cakes?
Yes, I would make both cakes–the cake recipe makes two, but just double the berries and whipped cream to cover them both. Hope they love it!
This looks awesome! I just made your strawberry lemonade cake tonight. I tried the frosting but I haven’t tried it with the cake, I can’t wait!
Yay, hope you love it! :)
Oh my gosh, the video of your nephew is so cute! That is so awesome you were able to recreate the cake!
Veronica, I think you’ve been reading my mind. I’ve been so craving strawberry shortcake all summer. Hubs isn’t a fan so it doesn’t get made often. I love how that juice from the strawberries soaks into the cake. Can I have a piece? Just go ahead and ship it on over! ;)
On the way! ;)
Whoohoo..your page finally opened for me!! I clicked a link from Elana’s page in her comments..and Voila! That said, your strawberry shortcake is sensational! I love the recipe for the cakes and I love that you added honey to the strawberries instead of sugar. It’s beautiful too. OK, I need to comment on your bicycle post….it actually brought tears to my eyes :)
Yay for that! What a strange thing to happen so hopefully that’s over now. Thank you and awwww!
Hi Veronica :D
Thank you for posting the strawberry shortcake recipe.
I’ve love shortcakes since forever! LOL. :D
I’d like to invite you to submit the pictures of your strawberry shortcake to Food Photography so other chefs can make the same creation. :)
You know it’s fun to make others hungry. :D
Can’t wait for your recipe. :D
Thanks-I actually did submit this one already-it’s on the site, but with a different picture. :)
Wow, wow, and wow! Look at you whippin up cake recipes! You inspire me. This does sound like a keeper, may CW’s shortcake live on! The mmms and moans from your nephew say it all :)
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