Jul 21

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

in Dessert, Fuji Favorites, Japanese

The Japanese do some amazing things with cake and pastry.

Pastry Chefs in Tokyo

They have embraced many Western desserts and made them uniquely their own in many ways. I love a good Japanese sponge cake—moist, light and airy, and not overly sweet. A while back I received an email from Eliane, an LFM reader, who asked me to share a Japanese sponge cake recipe. At the time, I didn’t have a favorite recipe, but told her that I would work on it.  After a bit of looking around and not finding anything I was happy with, I turned to a trusted recipe source, my friend Noriko.  She came to my rescue with a recipe that she uses all the time.  She wrote that the recipe is “from a cookbook that I ‘borrowed’ from my mom when I got married.  She’s been using this recipe since I was really little, and I always use this recipe whenever I make Japanese Strawberry Shortcake.”  There’s a reason that Noriko’s mom, and now Noriko, use this recipe–it’s delicious.  To pay homage to her favorite way of using the recipe, I decided to make a Japanese Strawberry Shortcake.  Unlike the American concept of strawberry shortcake (sweet biscuits/scones topped with strawberries and whipped cream),a Japanese strawberry shortcake is a layered sponge cake with a strawberry and whipped cream filling, and whipped cream frosting.  This cake is a favorite choice for birthdays and Christmas, and in fact is often called a Christmas Cake.  I know it’s not Christmastime, but the strawberries in Southern California are currently ripe and beautiful, so it seems especially appropriate to be making this cake now.

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

First you make the cake, which is a simple process of beating egg whites and sugar together until stiff and glossy, and then gently folding in the rest of the ingredients.  The folding is the key—if you treat the batter gently, your cake will be light and fluffy.  I have converted the measurements into ounces and tablespoon measurements, but have also provided the original metric measurements as well.

Bake the sponge cake

After the cake is made you make your whipped cream.  I like to make stabilized whipped cream.  Stabilized whipped cream is more stable that normal whipped cream.  This prevents the whipped cream from weeping (bleeding water after being whipped).  The advantage to this, is that it makes a much better frosting and filling (it lasts longer and doesn’t make the cake soggy) and has a beautiful pillowy texture.  Stabilizing only takes a couple minutes of extra work.  You have to soften a bit of unflavored gelatin in cold water, and then melt it over low heat until the gelatin dissolves.  It’s quick and easy and makes a huge difference!  I also like making a simple syrup (sugar water syrup) to brush on the cake layers.  I think it takes the cake to a whole new level and keeps things nice and moist.

After your whipped cream is ready, all you have to do is cut up some fresh strawberries and slice your sponge cake into slices (2 or 3),

Slice the cake into two layers

build your strawberry shortcake,

Building the shortcake

and then frost it!

Frost the sponge cake with whipped cream frostingFinished Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

The end result is a beautiful layered cake that is light and delicious.  All I can say now is thank you Noriko!

A slice of Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

Makes one 7 or 8-inch layered cake

For Noriko’s sponge cake:
4 large eggs, white and yolks separated
4.2 ounces (120 grams, 9.5 tablespoons) granulated sugar, sifted once
3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4.2 ounces (120 grams, 14 tablespoons) cake flour, sifted 3 times
1.2 ounces (22 grams, 2.3 tablespoons) butter, melted

For the stabilized whipped cream frosting:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
4 teaspoons cold water
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the simple syrup:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

8 – 10 ounces fresh strawberries

To make Noriko’s Sponge Cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (170 to 180 degrees Celsius).  Line a 7 (18cm) or 8-inch circular cake pan with parchment paper, or grease the cake pan with butter, then lightly coat the pan with flour.

2. Add the sugar to the egg whites, and beat the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy.

3. Add the egg yolks to the egg white mixture, and gently whisk until the yolks are incorporated.

4. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and flour (in that order) to the batter and gently fold them into the batter with a spatula.  Fold in the melted butter until it is well combined.

5. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, and get rid of any air bubbles in the batter by dropping the pan on a counter once or twice.  Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes.  The cake is done when it is golden brown and springs back when pressed lightly.  Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. Run a blade around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, and remove.

To make the Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting:

1. Put the cold water in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water and let stand for 5 minutes (do not stir).  Place the saucepan over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon just until the gelatin dissolves.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool to room temperature.

2.In a mixing bowl, combine the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla and beat until slightly thickened.  Then, while beating slowly, gradually pour the gelatin into the whipped cream mixture.  Then whip the mixture at high speed until stiff.

To make the Simple Syrup:

1. In a medium saucepan combine the sugar and water.  Bring the water to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

To assemble the cake:

1. Reserve 6 to 1o strawberries for decorating the cake.  Slice the remaining strawberries into thin slices (about 4 slices per strawberry).

2. Slice the sponge cake horizontally into 2 layers.

3. Place one sponge layer cut-side up on a cake board or serving plate and lightly crush the surface with the simple syrup.  Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the cake layer and arrange the strawberry slices over the surface.  Spread an additional layer of whipped cream over the strawberries.  Brush the cut-side of the second layer with the simple syrup and place it over the first layer.  Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.  Decorate as desired and garnish with the reserved strawberries.

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Noriko July 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Yay! Glad the recipe worked out for you. Your cake looks delicious!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm

@Noriko, It is a FANTASTIC recipe! Thank you so much for sharing it with me! Anytime you want to share a recipe, just let me know. LOL


[email protected] in Iowa July 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Oh Rachael, this looks divine! I’ve never made a sponge cake before! You started me on homemade bread so I’m thinking I need to jump on this now! Beautiful :D


Erika - In Erika's Kitchen July 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Oh oh oh oh this looks just luscious….


Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle July 21, 2010 at 5:53 pm

This looks beautiful and wonderful and well…can’t help myself after our conversation the other day; pretty happy it does NOT contain tofu..whew!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:16 am

@Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle, LOL, now I’m tempted to go make a strawberry tofu cake…. :)


jenjenk July 21, 2010 at 5:56 pm

ok, who in the Fuji household do I need to speak with about your moving closer to the Westside so I can come over EVERY DAY for dinner???? hmmm????

this looks amazing. absolutely beautiful!


Belinda @zomppa July 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm

That cake looks so spongy and elegant!!!!!


Fuji Nana July 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Dear jenjenk. Fuji Mama is not allowed to move ONE INCH further west. Now forty miles northeast might be just about right…


jenjenk July 21, 2010 at 6:05 pm

@Fuji Nana, But…But…I’m thinking of her well being and access to a lot of Japanese food…and…oh my…how do I argue with Fuji NANA??? :)


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 21, 2010 at 9:03 pm

@jenjenk, Oh boy, I’m not getting in the middle of this one!!


pegasuslegend July 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I love this kind of cake, and this one looks fantastic!


Clare Maree July 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm

“This cake is a favorite choice for birthdays and Christmas, and in fact is often called a Christmas Cake.”
We offered to make my son one of these for his birthday recently (turning 10, he’s too old now for my fancy-smancy “character” cakes…sniff, sniff), but he said no, because “that’s only for Christmas” (we live in Australia, but are bicultural Japanese-Australian).


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

@Clare Maree, LOL, I love it when kids start asserting their opinions!


notyet100 July 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm

umm delicious


Clare Maree July 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm

By the way, what is “cake flour” and how does it differ from regular plain flour? Is it like our self-raising flour, which has the baking powder pre-added?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

@Clare Maree, The main difference between regular plain flour (all-purpose flour) is in the protein content. All-purpose flour has 9-12% protein, whereas cake flour only contains 5-8% protein. Less protein means a softer flour, which helps make a more tender cake.

According to Baking 911 (http://www.baking911.com/pantry/flour,grains.htm), a sometimes-reliable substitution for 1 cup of cake flour is 1 cup all-purpose flour (preferably bleached) minus 2 tablespoons, and then add in 2 tablespoons cornstarch and sift them together several times.

I hope that helps!


Hyosun Ro July 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm

This looks amazing! I am going to make it for my mother-in-law’s birthday this weekend. I have been looking for an idea. Thanks for helping me decide.


redkathy July 21, 2010 at 7:33 pm

You make every dessert look amazingly easy and fabulously delicious!


Steve July 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Looks wonderful but what dessert doesn’t?


Kelly Azuma July 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Hi, I’m just wondering, if I’m using a fan-forced electric oven, do I still use the same temperature or should I lower it? I know sometimes when baking, a fan forced oven temperature is about 20 degrees lower, but I’m not sure, and want to make it this weekend for some Japanese friends of ours.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:33 am

@Kelly Azuma, I have no experience with fan-forced electric ovens! But from what I found looking online, it looks like you are supposed to reduce the temperature anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees, like you mentioned, and that it may take more time. If you usually reduce the heat by 20 degrees for recipes, I guess I would go with that. As far as cooking time, you will know when it’s done by how it looks (a light golden brown) and by gently touching it (it will spring back if it is done). I hope that helps!!


online levitra February 12, 2015 at 1:31 pm

No complaints on this end, simply a good piece.


Magic of Spice July 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Beautiful cake, I can just imagine the texture…


Jean July 21, 2010 at 8:56 pm

This is one beautiful strawberry shortcake!


the lacquer spoon July 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm

So delish and thanks for sharing!! Japanese shortcake was the sweets icon in my childhood, but has still been tempting us to this day like an all-time beloved cake. And as far as I know, the first-ever shortcake to sell in Japan was make by “Fuji-ya”, a confectionery shop in the early 1900s :)

PS. Love the US version of shortcake too!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:46 am

@the lacquer spoon, I didn’t know that about the first shortcake!!! That makes me smile. I LOVE that it was Fuji-ya!!


Lynne at CookandBeMerry July 21, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Your cake looks spectacular. I love the strawberries and whipped cream combination. Very yummy!


Donna - Dishy Goodness July 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Hi, Rachael! What a perfect dessert for the summer! Love your six-photo assembly collage. Beautiful post.


Elizabeth E. July 21, 2010 at 10:08 pm

I have some strawberries in the fridge right now and I’ll run to the store tomorrow for some Personal Energy in order to make this (although it doesn’t look too hard). Lovely post, lovely cake!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:47 am

@Elizabeth E., Thank you Elizabeth! Can’t wait to hear what you think!


anncoo July 21, 2010 at 10:50 pm

That cake looks so beautiful. I must bookmark this sponge cake. I bet it is soft and spongy.


Tammy July 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Koreans have a cake similar to this, which they call Saeng Cake, which means “fresh cake” referring to the fact that it uses fresh whipped cream frosting.

Just leave it to the Japanese and Koreans to take our recipes and make them 100% yummier (and somewhat healthier, too).


Caroline July 22, 2010 at 2:02 am

Look attractive. Delicious strawberry…so beautiful


Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) July 22, 2010 at 4:31 am

This looks delicious ! I’m always looking for a good shortcake recipe and this looks wonderful.
Going to have this a try with the beautiful strawberries that we have right now.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

@Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops), Yay! Let me know how it goes!


Adriana from Baking Powders July 22, 2010 at 6:39 am

i love that you’ve found a way to make whipped cream way less messy! after covering my entire coat in whipped cream while bringing a black forest cake to my best friend, i’ve avoided cream in cakes, now i can go back to eat! plus any cake with strawberries has to be good! delicious!


Susan @ SGCC July 22, 2010 at 6:41 am

How lovely! I’m from the South and I’ll never look at strawberry shortcake the same way again. This reminds me of the birthday cakes my mother used to make for me as a kid – golden cake filled with berries and whipped cream. Delicious!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:51 am

@Susan @ SGCC, Thank you Susan! Mmmmm, your childhood birthday cakes sound wonderful!! Have you posted the recipe on your blog? PLEASE SHARE! :)


Paula - bell'alimento July 22, 2010 at 7:19 am

Um so I’m guessing moving to the East coast is completely out of the question ; ) LOL This is just STUNNING! I’m picking up some strawberries TODAY


Carol Egbert July 22, 2010 at 8:55 am

I was interested to read about stabilized cream. I use cream that has not been ultra pasteurized when I make desserts and haven’t had a problem with weeping. Perhaps it’s just being so close to Vermont cows that makes the difference?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:54 am

@Carol Egbert, Interesting! I’m not sure! It’s actually really hard to find cream here that isn’t ultra pasteurized, so I can’t say that I have ever used it to make whipped cream! I’m SURE that the awesome Vermont cows do make a difference though. :) Another benefit to using the stabilized whipped cream method is that it changes the texture of the whipped cream a bit–it is more pillowy and sturdy, making it more like a regular frosting.


Maria July 22, 2010 at 9:33 am

Fabulous dessert! I have strawberries right now:)


Andreas July 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

Looks very elegant. :)


Joy July 22, 2010 at 10:51 am

Thank you, thank you, a 1000s thank yous. I love, love this cake and I have been on the hunt for a good recipe. I have always loved japanese pastries and I can’t seem to find good recipes.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

@Joy, Aaaaw, 1000 your welcomes!! :)


Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron July 22, 2010 at 10:56 am

Japanese strawberry shortcake is the best! I had it at my friend’s wedding and it was so good! I’m going to try this for sure. The sponge cake can melt in my mouth…hmm..YUM.
Quick question, can I use pastry flour instead of cake flour?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

@Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron, Depending on the brand of flour in question, cake flour has a slightly lower percentage of protein in it than pastry flour. If at all possible, I would suggest using cake flour, as it will help you obtain the lightest tenderest crumb possible! Or you could always try the substitution I mentioned in a comment above. Some people have had success in recipes that call for cake flour using this substitution:

According to Baking 911 (http://www.baking911.com/pantry/flour,grains.htm), a sometimes-reliable substitution for 1 cup of cake flour is 1 cup all-purpose flour (preferably bleached) minus 2 tablespoons, and then add in 2 tablespoons cornstarch and sift them together several times.


zerrin July 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

This looks adorable! If a recipe is from a mom, it’s impossible to end up with a bad result. I always trust moms. And you make the recipe real. Fantastic!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm

@zerrin, Thanks zerrin. Wow, does that mean I now have some recipe street cred because I’m a mom? Cool! :)


Ally July 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

This is my ALL-TIME favorite dessert ever since I was a kid living in Japan (Air Force brat here)…been looking for a recipe for ages. Thank you for posting one…it’s now on my must-make list for this weekend. Oishii so! Arigato!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 12:05 pm

@Ally, I hope you come back to report! :)


Mioto July 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Their cakes are in a league of their own ♥ Yours looks absolutely gorgeous!


marla {family fresh cooking} July 22, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Rachel, this is such a beautiful cake. I have never heard of stabilizing the whipped cream. This is such a great idea, especially in the warmer weather. Thanks for sharing such a informative tip with us. Love your “Christmas” light and perfect strawberry cake :) great seeing you and your adorable family last weekend. xo


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction July 22, 2010 at 7:39 pm

So beautiful! Your cake is absolutely stunning!


Monica July 22, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Was thinking of what type of strawberry whipped cream cake to make for my son’s birthday…wishing that I had a recipe for a Japanese style cake…and then I read your blog! So grateful and excited! Will try it tomorrow!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm

@Monica, I hope you come back and report! :)


Monica July 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I went to sleep thinking about making this cake. When I woke up, I started getting to work. I ate a slice after dinner and I was jumping up and down! My husband and children will testify to this. This cake is what I was looking for!! I have tried many other recipes but this is the best Japanese-style, strawberry, whipped cream cake recipe!!! It is similar to the one at our local Japanese bakery! Thank you so much! Please post more of these Japanese cake and bread recipes!!


Monica July 23, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Oh, I forgot! I am making it again for a church birthday celebration tomorrow!


[email protected] July 23, 2010 at 4:45 am

So summery and absolutely divine!


Jenny flake July 23, 2010 at 8:59 am

What a beautiful dessert Rachael!! Love this post :)


Eliane July 23, 2010 at 10:52 am

Dear Rachel,
Domo arigatou gozaimasu! I looove Japanese sponge cake, the texture is amazing, very light and less sweet than the average cake recipe ! Thank you so much for sharing your friend Noriko’s recipe ! Loved the pictures of your cake, it reminds me of the first Jaanese sponge cake I’ve tried and also the great time I had with friends on that day ! I’m buying some strawberries today !!! Thank you again !


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm

@Eliane, Dō itashimashite! Please let me know if you make it, and thank you for the wonderful (and fun!) request!


Eliane July 26, 2010 at 11:17 pm

@Fuji Mama (Rachael),

I made the cake yesterday and it was absolutely delicious ! Very light, fluffy, not so sweet ! I took it to a church gathering and everyone loved it ! Thanks again for the recipe !


damaris July 23, 2010 at 11:12 am

I so wished I had seen this yesterday before I pureed a rediculous amount of strawberries to make Jam that I won’t even eat. arghhhh.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) July 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm

@damaris, Oh no! What a bummer! Guess you just need to go and get a few more strawberries…. :)


Julie July 23, 2010 at 10:30 pm

This looks great. Since it will have to be refrigerated, how far in advance do you think this can be made prior to serving?


Tracy July 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm

What a light and wonderful cake for summer!


Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker July 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm

What a gorgeous strawberry cake! I love it!


Kelly @ EvilShenanigans July 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm

I have been looking for a Japanese style sponge cake recipe. My hubs is addicted to the Japanese cream roll cakes. He asked me to make one of my own but I had no idea where to start. Thanks for this! I am going to start experimenting! You finished cake looks amazing!


Jen @ How To: Simplify July 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm

This strawberry shortcake is absolutely beautiful!


Cookin' Canuck July 27, 2010 at 6:27 am

What a pretty, light cake. Great tips on the stabilized whipped cream.


[email protected] July 27, 2010 at 6:52 am

Absolutely delightful! I would love to make this for an afternoon tea party or birthday celebration. YUM.


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