Japanese-Style 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!

My Ultimate Cake

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, flavoursome, as well as having enough structural integrity as a base for decoration.

Japanese-style vanilla sponge and strawberry cake

What is Japanese Strawberry Shortcake?

Completely different to the US version of a strawberry shortcake, the Japanese version consists of freshly whipped cream and strawberries sandwiched between soft and fluffy layers of sponge. The cake is light, delicate and melts in your mouth.

The sponge cake base is similar among most Asian bakeries, and this sponge would be the same used in Chinese bakery cakes and Korean fresh cream cakes. The only difference being the strawberries used in this one.

This is a classic and you will find them everywhere in Japan, or 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 maybe a little more tedious than a classic genoise or chiffon cake, however the results are so worth it!

Japanese style strawberry and vanilla sponge cake

Sponge Cake Troubleshooting

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 whipped into the egg whites will be lost. The result will be a dense sponge cake with no rise.

Always lighten the batter with 1/3rd of the meringue before folding the rest in. This makes it easier to incorporate the remaining meringue.

How do I keep my sponge cake from collapsing/sinking?

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 from the oven it won’t sink.

It can be difficult to gage 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 water in the bain-marie.

The best way to gage when the cake is ready is when the cake begins to pull away. 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.

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: Causes the sponge to deflate when coming out of the oven. This leads to a slightly fluffier top, but 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.

Let’s Get Baking!

If you do make this cake make sure to tag me on instagram @catherine.justdessertsau and hashtag #cattycakes so I can find and share your recreations. I also filmed a video to accompany this recipe to help you all visually with the process. This recipe is so special to me and I can’t wait to see all your cakes! If you have any questions leave a comment down below and I’ll try and help you the best I can! Until next time, happy caking!

Japanese-style Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

RatingDifficultyIntermediate

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!

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Yields1 Serving
Prep Time45 minsCook Time1 hrTotal Time1 hr 45 mins

Sponge
 50 g Unsalted butter
 40 g Milk
 30 g Sugar (I)
 70 g Plain flour
 3 Egg yolks
 3 Egg whites
 60 g Sugar (II)
Vanilla Whipped Cream
 600 g Thickened/Heavy cream
 ½ g Vanilla paste
 50 g Sugar
Assembly
 30 g Sugar
 30 g Water
 Punnet of strawberries

Sponge
1

Preheat the oven to 140°C fan forced/ 150°C convection

2

Line the bottom of a 6-inch cake tin

3

In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar (I)

4

In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter over low heat until melted

5

While whisking pour the milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk until smooth

6

Sift the flour into the egg yolk mixture and mix until combined

7

Add the vanilla bean paste
In another bowl whip the egg whites with sugar (II) until stiff peaks

8

In three additions fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to deflate the bubbles

9

Transfer the batter to the cake tin

10

Place the cake tin in a water bath (a tray/tin of boiling water) and bake for 60 minutes

11

Turn the oven off and leave in the oven for 15 minutes

12

Once cooled run a knife around the edge of the cake tin and invert the pan

13

Wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge until assembly

Whipped Cream
14

Whip the cream with an electric whisk and slowly stream the sugar in

15

Beat until stiff peaks

Assembly
16

Combine the sugar and water in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds until melted, cool

17

Slice half the punnet of strawberries

18

Slice the cooled cake into three layers

19

Lay one layer of cake down and brush with the sugar syrup

20

Spread on a layer of cream, a layer of strawberries and then cover with another layer of cream, repeat

21

Place the last layer of sponge on top and give the cake a thin crumb coat before icing the entire cake with cream

22

Place a french star tip into a piping bag and fill with the remaining cream

23

Pipe a border around the edge of the cake and decorate with the remaining strawberries

CategoryCake

Ingredients

Sponge
 50 g Unsalted butter
 40 g Milk
 30 g Sugar (I)
 70 g Plain flour
 3 Egg yolks
 3 Egg whites
 60 g Sugar (II)
Vanilla Whipped Cream
 600 g Thickened/Heavy cream
 ½ g Vanilla paste
 50 g Sugar
Assembly
 30 g Sugar
 30 g Water
 Punnet of strawberries

Directions

Sponge
1

Preheat the oven to 140°C fan forced/ 150°C convection

2

Line the bottom of a 6-inch cake tin

3

In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar (I)

4

In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter over low heat until melted

5

While whisking pour the milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk until smooth

6

Sift the flour into the egg yolk mixture and mix until combined

7

Add the vanilla bean paste
In another bowl whip the egg whites with sugar (II) until stiff peaks

8

In three additions fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to deflate the bubbles

9

Transfer the batter to the cake tin

10

Place the cake tin in a water bath (a tray/tin of boiling water) and bake for 60 minutes

11

Turn the oven off and leave in the oven for 15 minutes

12

Once cooled run a knife around the edge of the cake tin and invert the pan

13

Wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge until assembly

Whipped Cream
14

Whip the cream with an electric whisk and slowly stream the sugar in

15

Beat until stiff peaks

Assembly
16

Combine the sugar and water in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds until melted, cool

17

Slice half the punnet of strawberries

18

Slice the cooled cake into three layers

19

Lay one layer of cake down and brush with the sugar syrup

20

Spread on a layer of cream, a layer of strawberries and then cover with another layer of cream, repeat

21

Place the last layer of sponge on top and give the cake a thin crumb coat before icing the entire cake with cream

22

Place a french star tip into a piping bag and fill with the remaining cream

23

Pipe a border around the edge of the cake and decorate with the remaining strawberries

Japanese-Style Strawberry Shortcake

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55 Comments

  1. Aleeya Gregorio June 1, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    Can you try add the cup measurements please? Thank You!

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang June 7, 2020 at 1:28 am

      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! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jeff June 2, 2020 at 11:22 am

    Fantastic! Video is great. Thanks for sharing your talent!

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang June 7, 2020 at 1:26 am

      Thank you Jeff!

      Reply
  3. Naomi June 2, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Cat, just wondering what’s the height of the cake tin you were using? 🙂

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang June 7, 2020 at 1:27 am

      Hi Naomi, the cake tin that I use is about 3 inches high 🙂

      Reply
      1. Naomi June 9, 2020 at 1:29 pm

        Thanks a lot for the reply! Hopefully will make this one soon 😉

        Reply
  4. Aleeya June 7, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Catherine! This is just another suggestion but I really want you to make an Aussie Classic. Thank You!

    Reply
  5. Letícia June 10, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    The vanilla paste is very expensive where i live. Should i just do the cream without it or replace it with something else?

    Reply
    1. Letícia June 10, 2020 at 4:18 pm

      i wrote "cream", it was supposed to be "sponje"!!

      Reply
    2. Catherine Zhang June 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      Hi Leticia, you can use vanilla extract or just leave it out entirely!

      Reply
  6. Tanya June 13, 2020 at 9:02 am

    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

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang June 22, 2020 at 3:03 pm

      Hi 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!
      Catherine

      Reply
  7. Alexander June 18, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Catherine, I saw you on Zumbo’s Just Desserts and you were amazing. I hope you make more creations in the future.

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang June 22, 2020 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Alexander,
      Thank you so much! I will definitely be making more creations in the future!

      Reply
  8. Kaiya June 26, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    Would any size cake pan work?

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang June 26, 2020 at 11:45 pm

      6 inch works best!

      Reply
  9. Matthew, Orlando, FL USA June 27, 2020 at 1:44 am

    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!

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang June 28, 2020 at 4:15 am

      Hi Matthew,
      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!

      Reply
  10. Tanya de Bruin June 28, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Hi Catherrine!
    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?
    Greetings Tanya

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang June 28, 2020 at 4:17 am

      Hi Tanya
      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! 🙂

      Reply
  11. Chelsi July 2, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Hi!
    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? 🙂

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 4:45 am

      Hi Chelsi
      I would recommend times the whole recipe by 4/3 and then baking it at 140C fan forced for 70 minutes 🙂

      Reply
  12. Val July 6, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    You are amazing !! You inspire me me a lot , I am 12 years old and I want to be like you 🙂

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 4:45 am

      Hi Val, Thank you!

      Reply
  13. Clarissa July 10, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Catherine! Any tips on how to cut the cake evenly? I’ve found it really hard to cut the cake. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 4:47 am

      Hi Clarissa,
      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.

      Reply
  14. Kim July 11, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Hi Catherine. What kind of flour do you use? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 4:48 am

      Hi Kim,
      I use plain flour aka all purpose flour

      Reply
  15. Michelle July 18, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    Hi Catherine!

    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?

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 4:48 am

      Hi Michelle,
      Thank you! I use all purpose flour

      Reply
  16. Jenny August 1, 2020 at 1:40 am

    Hi Catherine,

    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!
    Jenny

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 4:49 am

      Hi Jenny,
      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!

      Reply
  17. Elizabeth August 7, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Catherine!

    How would you suggest changing the baking times/temps if I’m baking this in an 8 in cake pan and doubling the recipe?

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 4:50 am

      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 🙂

      Reply
  18. Sof August 8, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Catherine!!!
    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????

    Thank you!!!

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 4:53 am

      Hi Sof,
      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 🙂

      Reply
  19. Em August 9, 2020 at 5:43 am

    Hi Catherine! I’m so excited to try this recipe! Is it possible to substitute all purpose flour with cake flour?

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang August 9, 2020 at 5:49 am

      Hi Em, Yep you should be able to with no problems 🙂

      Reply
  20. Jas August 26, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Catherine if I wanted to make this in 2 8-inch tins, what should the baking time be?

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang September 1, 2020 at 11:19 pm

      Hi Jas, I would suggest baking it in 1 tin as it will help with the rise and give a fluffier sponge.

      Reply
  21. Shradha August 27, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Hi- If the cake pan is bigger, how do we adjust the baking time?

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang September 1, 2020 at 11:19 pm

      It depends on how much larger your cake tin is, I suggest reducing by half and then keeping an eye on it

      Reply
  22. Jenna August 28, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    Hi! Should I use cake flour or plain all-purpose for this recipe? thanks!

    Reply
    1. Jenna August 29, 2020 at 1:32 am

      Also, how many tablespoons are in 40 grams of milk?

      Reply
    2. Catherine Zhang September 1, 2020 at 11:18 pm

      just all purpose is fine!

      Reply
  23. Jennifer August 30, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    Hey!

    I was wondering whether or not the cake pan should be non-stick.

    Thx!

    Reply
    1. Catherine Zhang September 1, 2020 at 11:18 pm

      Shouldn’t be non-stick! 🙂

      Reply
  24. gabby mendoza February 4, 2021 at 10:32 pm

    Rated 5 out of 5

    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!

    Reply
    1. Catherine February 4, 2021 at 11:44 pm

      Hi Gabby,
      I just use granulated/white sugar 🙂

      Reply
  25. Dimosthenis February 8, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    Rated 4 out of 5

    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.

    Reply
    1. Catherine February 9, 2021 at 12:31 am

      Hi Dimosthensis,
      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!

      Reply
      1. Dimosthenis February 10, 2021 at 6:28 am

        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!

        Reply
        1. Dimosthenis February 22, 2021 at 9:10 am

          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.

          Reply
          1. Catherine February 28, 2021 at 4:49 am

            So glad it worked out well! Love the tips too, it will definitely help everyone trying this recipe out 🙂

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