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A Sophisticated Strawberry Shortcake

Servings: Makes a 9-inch two layer cake, serves 8-10
"The old-fashioned American strawberry shortcake with hot biscuits is a marvelous treat, but so is the more sophisticated version using liqueur-soaked spongecake. Here's how to go about it".......Julia Child

A 9 x 1 1/2-inch round spongecake, homemade or store bought
3 to 4 pints fresh strawberries
Granulated sugar to taste
Juice of 1 fresh lemon

Flavoring Syrup:
2 Tbsp. sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water, flavored with 2 to 3 Tbsp. white rum or 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract.

For Frosting:
2 cups whipping cream, chilled
3 to 4 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
1/2 Tbsp. or so, vanilla extract

If the cake is homemade, let it cool completely before assembling. Hull the strawberries. Reserve a dozen of the finest and largest for decorating the top of the cake. Halve or quarter the rest lengthwise and fold in a mixing bowl with sugar and drops of fresh lemon juice to taste.
Prepare the flavoring syrup and let cool.

When you are ready to assemble, pour the cream into a metal bowl and set over a larger bowl filled with a tray of ice cubes and cold water to cover them. Either with a large balloon whip or a hand-held electric mixer start beating the cream, circulating whip or beater all around the bowl to incorporate as much air as possible into the cream while you whip it into soft peaks for 4-5 minutes. Sift and fold in confectioners sugar to taste, and vanilla. Keep the cream over ice.

With a long, very sharp knife, slice the cake into 2 layers horizontally, and carefully turn the top layer cut side up. Center the bottom layer, cut side up, on your serving platter and slip pieces of wax paper all around to catch dribbles.

Drizzle about half the syrup over the bottom layer, spread with a layer of cream. Remove half the cut strawberries with a slotted spoon and arrange over the cream, and spread more cream on top.

Drizzle more syrup over the top half of the cake, and carefully reverse it in place over the bottom layer of cake. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the top of the cake, arrange the reserved strawberries in the center, and spread the rest of the whipped cream around the sides pushing it up around the rim to wall in the strawberries. Remove wax paper strips and spoon the remaining cut strawberries around the outside of the cake.

Source: Julia Child
Date: April 5, 2002