Soft and fluffy sponge cake filled with fresh strawberries lightly whipped vanilla cream. The perfect version of the classic Japanese strawberry shortcake. A classic asian-bakery style sponge and fluffy cream that melts in your mouth like a dream!
- What is a Strawberry Shortcake?
- What is a Japanese strawberry shortcake?
- Tangmian aka Cooked Dough Method
- How can I make my cake soft and fluffy?
- Why is my cake shrinking?
- Why is the bottom of my sponge cake is dense and raw?
- How do I know when my sponge cake is done?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
I’m finally sharing my ultimate cake. If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it would probably be this. This cake means so much to me because it was the first cake I had ever baked and it has been with me from the very beginning of my baking career.
Growing up strawberry cream cakes from Asian bakeries were my favourite thing ever. Not even kidding I have had a strawberries and cream cake every single birthday of my life, and I will probably continue that tradition until I die.
That’s why it was the one cake that I wanted to perfect.
I have baked at least 1000 sponges in my life, tested every sponge recipe on the face of earth, and tweaked recipes again and again. But it all came to an end when I managed to create and recreate again and again the perfect sponge. ]
This sponge is soft and delicate, flavorsome, as well as having enough structural integrity as a base for decoration.
What is a Strawberry Shortcake?
There are a lot of different kinds of strawberry shortcakes. In the United States, strawberry shortcakes are flaky biscuits topped with cream and jam. In Britain strawberry shortcakes are a classic crumbly cake topped with cream, jam, and fresh fruit.
What is a Japanese strawberry shortcake?
Japanese strawberry cake has a completely different texture, with a super light and fluffy cake base. Rather than the cream only being sandwiched between the cake layers, the cream is between the layers with strawberry slices and completely covers the sponge for a much moister cake.
The cake is light, delicate, and melts in your mouth.
The Japanese strawberry shortcake is so popular in Japan that it has been deemed the Christmas cake! The cake eaten by all Japanese families to celebrate Christmas.
The sponge cake base is similar to most Asian bakeries, and this sponge would be the same used in Chinese bakery cakes and Korean fresh cream cakes. The only difference is the strawberries used in this one.
This is a classic and you will find them everywhere in Japan, or in any Asian bakery. And once you taste it you will know why!
Tangmian aka Cooked Dough Method
After a lot of experimentation, I found the cooked dough method creates the softest sponge cakes.
Essentially the flour is 'cooked' with the heat of the milk, oil, and butter. This creates a coating so that less gluten is formed when mixing the batter of the cake.
Less gluten = softer and fluffier cake!
This method may be a little more tedious than a classic genoise or chiffon cake, however, the results are so worth it!
How can I make my cake soft and fluffy?
The secret to making the sponge light and fluffy is in the folding of the meringue. This sponge doesn't have any leavening agents, which means it relies on whipped eggs for rise.
If you are too rough when folding the meringue into the batter the air bubbles whipped into the egg whites will be lost. The result will be a dense sponge cake with no rise.
Always lighten the egg mixture with ⅓rd of the meringue before folding the rest in. This makes it easier to incorporate the remaining meringue.
Also, use a spatula to fold the batter together, this will allow you to fold everything together gently.
Why is my cake shrinking?
The most common reason why a sponge cake collapses is the bake time.
Sponge cakes need to be baked long enough that the moisture has been baked out. This way when the cake is taken out of the oven it won't sink.
It can be difficult to gauge when the sponge is ready as everybody's oven is different, so you can't just rely on the time.
The level of moisture in your oven is also a factor, and that can change if you have too much hot water in the bain-marie.
The best way to gauge when the cake is ready is when the cake begins to pull away from the cake pan. If you notice the sides of the cake pull away from the tin the sponge is done and safe to take out of the oven!
To be even safer I would leave it in the oven for another 15 minutes with the heat turned off.
Tip to prevent shrinking
A tip to prevent the cake from shrinking when it comes out of the oven is to give it a firm tap on your counter after it comes out. This removes any hot air that has been trapped, decreasing the risk of deflation.
Why is the bottom of my sponge cake is dense and raw?
There are a couple of factors that can cause the bottom of the sponge to be raw and gummy.
Over-folding of the meringue
Too much air was deflated when the meringue was folded into the batter. Therefore the cake couldn't rise.
Under-folding the meringue
The meringue was not folded through the batter enough, causing the heavier parts of the unfolded batter to sink to the bottom of the tin.
The sponge wasn't baked for long enough
This causes the sponge to deflate when coming out of the oven. This leads to a slightly fluffier top, but a much denser bottom.
How do I know when my sponge cake is done?
There are a couple of ways to test the sponge cake for doneness.
- Spring test: If you press the sponge with your finger it should spring back slowly. If an indent is made you will need to bake it for longer
- Cake pulling away from the sides: The sponge will begin to come away from the sides of the cake tin. That means it's ready.
- Toothpick test: A toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean and dry
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does this cake last?
This cake lasts up to 3 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. As this cake is made with fresh cream make sure you store it in the fridge until ready to serve.
A lot of cakes use cake flour, why do you use all-purpose flour?
Cake flour is great for giving cakes a lighter texture, however, the cooked dough method removes the need to use it! Even without cake flour, the resulting sponge cake will be equally as light and fluffy.
Let's Get Baking!
Japanese strawberry shortcake is my absolute favorite cake, and once you bake this I'm sure it'll become one of yours too.
If you liked this recipe make sure to leave me a comment and rating down below, I would love to know how you went. Also don't forget to tag me on instagram @catherine.desserts and hashtag #cattycakes so I can see and share your desserts.
Follow me on facebook, pinterest, youtube and tiktok for more of my baking creations and updates! Until next time... happy caking!Print
Japanese Strawberry Shortcake
Soft and fluffy sponge cake filled with fresh strawberries lightly whipped vanilla cream. The perfect version of the classic Japanese-style strawberry shortcake. A classic asian-bakery style sponge and fluffy cream that melts in your mouth like a dream!
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 105 minutes
- Yield: 1 x 6-inch cake 1x
- Category: Cake
- Method: Intermediate
- Cuisine: Japanese
- 50 g Unsalted butter (3 tbsp 1 tsp)
- 40 g Whole milk (2 tbsp 2 tsp)
- 30 g Granulated sugar (I) (2 tbsp 1 tsp)
- 70 g All-purpose flour (½ cup 1 tbsp)
- 3 Egg yolks
- 3 Egg whites
- 60 g Granulated sugar (II) (¼ cup 1 tbsp)
Vanilla Whipped Cream
- 600 g Thickened/Heavy cream (2 ½ cups)
- ½ tsp Vanilla paste
- 50 g Granulated sugar (¼ cup)
- 30 g Granulated sugar (2 tbsp 1 tsp)
- 30 g Water (2 tbsp 1 tsp)
- Punnet of strawberries
- Preheat the oven to 140°C fan forced/ 150°C convection
- Line the bottom of a 6-inch cake tin
- In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar (I)
- In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter over low heat until melted
- While whisking pour the milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk until smooth
- Sift the flour into the egg yolk mixture and mix until combined
- Add the vanilla bean paste
In another bowl whip the egg whites with sugar (II) until stiff peaks
- In three additions fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to deflate the bubbles
- Transfer the batter to the cake tin
- Place the cake tin in a water bath (a tray/tin of boiling water) and bake for 60 minutes
- Turn the oven off and leave in the oven for 15 minutes
- Once cooled run a knife around the edge of the cake tin and invert the pan
- Wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge until assembly
- Whip the cream with an electric whisk and slowly stream the sugar in
- Beat until stiff peaks
- Combine the sugar and water in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds until melted, cool
- Slice half the punnet of strawberries
- Slice the cooled cake into three layers
- Lay one layer of cake down and brush with the sugar syrup
- Spread on a layer of cream, a layer of strawberries and then cover with another layer of cream, repeat
- Place the last layer of sponge on top and give the cake a thin crumb coat before icing the entire cake with cream
- Place a french star tip into a piping bag and fill with the remaining cream
- Pipe a border around the edge of the cake and decorate with the remaining strawberries
Keywords: strawberry shortcake, japanese, asian fresh cream cake, chiffon cake
Can you try add the cup measurements please? Thank You!
Hi Aleeya, I will try to add cup measurements when I can, but for recipes like this more exact measurements are needed, so I would strongly suggest using a kitchen scale! 🙂
Fantastic! Video is great. Thanks for sharing your talent!
Thank you Jeff!
Hi Cat, just wondering what's the height of the cake tin you were using? 🙂
Hi Naomi, the cake tin that I use is about 3 inches high 🙂
Thanks a lot for the reply! Hopefully will make this one soon 😉
Hi Catherine! Loved you in Zumbo Just Desserts! I followed this recipe, however after baking, when the sides come off, when I let it cool down in the tin, the cake shrinks, not in height but in diameter. It makes it a bit harder to do the icing since the sides are not straight anymore (bottom is wider than the top). Do you have any idea how come this happens? The sides are also not brown like yours! Thanks in advance!!
Hi Claudia! It sounds like the moisture hadn't been fully baked out of the cake. Some ovens runs hotter than others so all you need to do is adjust the recipe to suit your oven! I would recommend baking the cake 10C higher and for a little longer. If you need visual cues, you can tell the cake is ready when the sides shrink away slightly from the tin while still in the oven. Hope this helps!
Hi Catherine! This is just another suggestion but I really want you to make an Aussie Classic. Thank You!
The vanilla paste is very expensive where i live. Should i just do the cream without it or replace it with something else?
i wrote "cream", it was supposed to be "sponje"!!
Your written recipe lists 0.1 g vanilla but the video shows 1/2 a tsp.
If baking as an 8 inch diam cake and scaling up the ingredients as required what do you think the baking time would be.
Sorry about that! It should be 1/2 tsp. I'll fix that up. I would recommend baking for 90 minutes.
Hi Leticia, you can use vanilla extract or just leave it out entirely!
Hi Catherine! My son and I tried to make the sponge cake yesterday. However it didn’t go well 🙈. I think my problem was that i did it in the conventional oven and not fan based oven. Also I don’t know if I had the amount of water right. With creme brûlée you make sure the tins are 2/3 in water. I did that here. Is that correct? My cake wasn’t baked at 60 min and 15 min wait 😖. Hope you have time to see my question. We really really want to make and eat your beautiful cake for his birthday tomorrow 🥰. Thanks a lot for posting you creations! Greetings Tanya
I'm so sorry to hear that! Using a convectional oven shouldn't be too big of a problem. When baking cakes the water bath doesn't need to be that high, as you said that's what you do when making custards! just a centimetre or two of water in a tray beneath your cake tin is enough to provide some steam to help your cake rise. Hope my reply wasn't too late and you can still bake the cake! 🙁 Let me know if you need any more help!
Hi Catherine, I saw you on Zumbo's Just Desserts and you were amazing. I hope you make more creations in the future.
Thank you so much! I will definitely be making more creations in the future!
Would any size cake pan work?
6 inch works best!
Matthew, Orlando, FL USA
Hi Catherine, thank you for sharing your brilliance with us. I took a stab at making this cake today. I had a minor issue with the sponge. After it cooled the cake shrunk away from the sides of the pan about a centimeter or two, primarily at the top of the cake. Additionally, the top, sides and bottom were very moist and would peel off if touched. The only deviation I did from your instructions was to grease and flower the sides of the pan to prevent sticking. Any thoughts on what may have caused my problem?
I’m in the middle of the second season of Zumbo’s Just Desserts and love everything you do. I honestly believe the egg you made was out of this world!
Hoping you and your loved ones are safe and healthy!
I would say there could be a few things... First the sides of the pan help the cake rise so theres no need to grease your pan, it'll give your cake a better rise too! Another problem may be too much moisture, reducing your water bath by a little and uping the temperature to 140/150 could help. As my oven is fan forced it seems to be better at working at lower temperatures than other ovens... I will be updating the recipe to account for ovens like yours! Hopefully these tips help and you will have a successful sponge 🙂
Thank you so much for all the love and I'm so happy you are enjoying Zumbo's Just Desserts. Hope you are staying healthy too!
Tanya de Bruin
Thanks for answering my questions! I made your cake again the next day. I had to turn up the oven temperature to 170 degrees in stead of 130. That did the trick and I love the texture and taste! I made it again 🤤. Do you really bake it at 130 degrees?
So happy that the sponge worked! Fan forced ovens tend to work better at lower temperatures than convectional ovens which is probably why I could bake it at a lower temperature without a problem. I will be updating the recipe for convection ovens now! 🙂
Thanks for sharing us this recipe! I'm planning to do this on my birthday next month. I'm using a 7.5 inch wide (2.5 inch high) tin, do I still bake it at 140C fan forced? 🙂
I would recommend times the whole recipe by 4/3 and then baking it at 140C fan forced for 70 minutes 🙂
You are amazing !! You inspire me me a lot , I am 12 years old and I want to be like you 🙂
Hi Val, Thank you!
Hi Catherine! Any tips on how to cut the cake evenly? I’ve found it really hard to cut the cake. Thanks.
I find that after letting the cake sit for one day the sponge absorbs a little more moisture making it easier to cut. Also using a sharp knife heated in hot water will help.
Hi Catherine. What kind of flour do you use? Thanks
I use plain flour aka all purpose flour
I am a huge fan of all your creations and cannot wait time make this one 🙂
Just curious - what type of flour did you use?
Thank you! I use all purpose flour
Thank you for sharing your recipe! It looks like the volume of cake batter that you have in your video is a lot more than what I've made based on the written recipe.. I'm using a 6 inch cake tin with 2 inch height and my uncooked batter reaches about 1.5 inch height, but in the video, your cake tin looks taller and it looks like there's a lot more batter? Does your video have the same measurements as your recipe?
Thanks so much!
Yes my tin is 3-inches tall, but the measurements were the same as what I have written. I would suggest the reason for it having less volume would be the deflation of your whipped egg whites. Hope that helps!
How would you suggest changing the baking times/temps if I'm baking this in an 8 in cake pan and doubling the recipe?
Hi Elizabeth I would suggest baking it at 140C for 75 minutes and then leaving it in the oven for 20 minutes with the heat turned off 🙂
I’m baking the cake at the moment and it doesn’t seems to be rising, its been in the oven for over an hour now and I don’t know what to do. I had to bake it a glass container instead of a tin and lined it all with parchment paper (including the sides) what should I do next time????
The reason why I don't line my cake tin is because the sides of the tin actually help the cake crawl up the sides and rise. Glass also isn't the best baking vessel because of its heat distribution, so that might be the reason why... I would suggest trying to bake it in a tin next time! Hope that helps 🙂
So i tried making this cake with a bigger pan and doubled the recipe but despite how long I baked it (i took it out of the oven after leaving in the oven for 15 minutes and then baked it again for 30 minutes and did that again for another 30 minutes after realising that it still wasnt cooked) and it just stayed mushy. Was this because the pan was too big?
Hi Alannah, It's definitely possible to double this recipe but I would recommend increasing the temperature to 160C and baking fo 90 minutes. With sponge cakes once they have been removed from the oven they won't rise anymore- and will probably a lot more mushy than usual. Keep the cake in the oven and bake it longer! You'll know the cake is ready when it begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Hope this helps!
Hi Catherine! I’m so excited to try this recipe! Is it possible to substitute all purpose flour with cake flour?
Hi Em, Yep you should be able to with no problems 🙂
Hi Catherine if I wanted to make this in 2 8-inch tins, what should the baking time be?
Hi Jas, I would suggest baking it in 1 tin as it will help with the rise and give a fluffier sponge.
Hi- If the cake pan is bigger, how do we adjust the baking time?
It depends on how much larger your cake tin is, I suggest reducing by half and then keeping an eye on it
Hi! Should I use cake flour or plain all-purpose for this recipe? thanks!
Also, how many tablespoons are in 40 grams of milk?
just all purpose is fine!
I was wondering whether or not the cake pan should be non-stick.
Shouldn't be non-stick! 🙂
Hi Catherine, i ask nicely of you to please be a bit more specific what type of sugar we are supposed to add, please and thank you! have a wonderful day!
I just use granulated/white sugar 🙂
Hello from Thailand. Today I have tried 2 of your receipes but I didn't get good results in both of them. For this one I had the following issues:
1) The sponge was as brown as yours and it was very very sticky. I baked for 1 hour at 140 Celsius in a fan assisted oven. The water bath was 1.5 cm in height. I then turned of the heat and waited 15 minutes. The sponge was pale all around, and it grew almost 4 inches in height (my tin is 2 inches high). It also smells a bit eggy.
2) The other issues is with the whipped cream. It doesn't get as smooth as in the video. I whip it in low-medium speed and in 2 minutes it reaches stiff peaks. If I let it run more it starts to crumble. Should I whip in low speed? In average how long do you need to whisk in a stand mixer to reach the correct consistency?
Something about the written version. You do mention the tangmian version but I think you don't use it, unless the flour "cooking" happens with the eggs in step 5. Also, in the video you use the vanilla paste in the eggs and not in the heavy cream yet in the ingredients you have it under the heavy cream and not the sponge.
I really look forward for your recommedations as I wish to do the dessert for my wife in Valentine's day.
Sorry you didn't get the result you were after. More than happy to help!
1) The stickiness of a cake depends on the humidity of your climate. Sugar absorbs water and if it is humid or raining on the day you make the cake the caramelised layer on the cake will absorb moisture. This is nothing to worry about, you can either remove the layer of caramelisation or just cover it up with cream.
2) Yes, if you overwhip cream it will become curdle and become butter. The timing needed varies between different brands of cream and the temperature of your kitchen. If you find it to be at stiff peaks at 2 minutes I would recommend beating on low speed until medium peaks. Then stop and whisk by hand to prevent the chance of curdling.
3) The tangmian method is the incorporation of the egg/milk mixture which is still hot with the flour. The heat provides the "cooking", although it is called the cooked dough method there is no necessary cooking of the dough.
As with the vanilla you can add it to the sponge or cream, or both! I guess the more you add the more vanilla you get, it won't effect the texture of anything.
Hope the dessert goes well for Valentine's day!
Thank you for taking the time to answer Catherine. I will try again and let you know the results. I did try a different brand of heavy cream that has stabilizers and got different results. I will have to keep experimenting.
Keep up the great work!
Second time worked like a charm. Just a few tips that worked for me and might work for people that have similar issues.
1) Since I also didn't have 3 inch deep cake tin and the 1st time the sponge turned out like a mushroom, the 2nd time I used a cake tin belt and the sponge was perfect and smooth.
2) You might need to bake for a bit longer than 60 minutes in a fan assisted oven, need to keep an eye on it. Mine took 75 minutes. Looked a bit uncooked around but it actually wasn't.
Thank you very much for the great recipe Catherine.
So glad it worked out well! Love the tips too, it will definitely help everyone trying this recipe out 🙂
hey, may i know how i can keep the cream from melting??
As long as you keep the cake refrigerated until serving it shouldn't melt!
This makes the perfect, most fluffy sponge cake. Finally found my favourite recipe. Thank you!
best sponge recipe yet! it yields a super soft and fluffy cake that’s very moist!
Hi Aly, So glad you liked the recipe thank you!!
What will be the measurements to use if I am using an 8 inch round tin (20cm x 5cm)
Hi Sarah you can multiply the quantities of ingredients by 4/3! Hope it goes well 🙂
Thank you so much for your response. It came on time and the cake turned out perfectly!
I have 8” and 9” cake pan, can you suggest how much should i multiply for the recipe for both cake size and baking time?
Also, do you know if there will be any different on the texture if i use cake flour?
The cake is so delicious! The video is very easy to follow
Hi Danni, thank you!
Hi! Thanks for this beautiful recipe... Questions before attempting this recipe:
1. Does the acid in the strawberries melt the whipped cream at all? I've heard from friends that putting fresh strawberries in the whipped cream (unless served immediately) will turn the whipped cream back into liquid unless using a stabilized whipped cream
2. Can this cake be made 24 hours in advance? Will the whipped cream deflate?
Hi Catherine! Nope, I've never had any problems with strawberries melting whipped cream. As long as you aren't adding a watery puree to the cream it'll be fine. The cake can definitely be made 24 hours in advance. If you store it in the fridge there won't be any deflating. Hope you like the recipe!
Hello! I can't wait to make this for my husband's birthday in a few weeks - he is from Japan and has been craving this cake for ages! I just wanted to check if using caster sugar instead of granulated sugar would yield the same results? Thank you!
Hi Shan, Hope he likes it. Using caster sugar will work great too!
This cake is amazing and delicious! The best Asian bakery style cake recipe I’ve come across. It’s now going to be the go-to birthday/celebration cake in our family!
So glad you love this! It's one of my fave's too 🙂
Hi! How many tsp of vanilla extract can I substitute to the vanilla bean paste? So difficult to find one where I am at 🙁
Tried the recipe and the sponge cake was so good!! However, it shrank into a 5-inch cake. Will try it one more time and bake it a little bit longer and practice more on the frosting which I badly struggled. Thank you so much! Hoping to bake another one that is as perfect as yours!
Hi! You can use 1 tsp vanilla extract instead. As for the shrinkage, that usually happens when the cake is underbaked. Try baking it for a little longer next time 🙂