This weekend is probably one of the last times you can pick your own strawberries in the New England area. Last weekend we went to C.N. Smith Farms (again) to get more strawberries because we were entertaining family all weekend and knew we wanted to serve a "strawberry" dessert.
Jeff had found a visitandine recipe in Dorie Greenspan's - Around my French Table. Dorie explains that "visitandine is a very simple white cake with an elegant small grain crumb and a lovely springy sponge, and a pure butter and sugar flavor." It's perfect plain or paired with glazes, frosting, jams or fruits. Having made strawberry shortcake quite a few times, we thought this would be a nice change.
As we read through the recipe, there was a suggestion that you could use a browned butter instead of the melted butter, giving the visitandine slight flavors of carmel and hazelnuts. We thought that using the browned butter might be different since we love changing up recipes, even if it meaning using browned butter VS melted butter. After we browned the butter, it tasted very nutty...it is amazing how browning butter can change the taste of your product. Outside of having to whip together 4 egg whites - and use the yolks to make thumbprint cookies - the cake was very easy to make and cooked up in about 30 minutes.
We served the shortcake in small dessert bowls. We found a cookie cutter that was the perfect match to the dessert bowls so we cut out rounds and put them in the base and put the strawberries and whipped cream on top. You can cut the cake in wedges or squares depending on the number of people you have to serve. The strawberry shortcake with the visitandine was delicious. Because of the spongy-ness of the cake, it absorbed the strawberry juices making the dessert incredibly smooth and delicious. The caramel, nutty taste of the cake gave the shortcake a flavor that truly complemented the rest of the ingredients. After the first round of servings and then a few seconds, everyone agreed that it was definitely different from true shortcake and thought it tasted better.
There is nothing better than a homemade cake, freshly picked strawberries and fresh whipped cream when it comes to making strawberry shortcake. Celebrate the 4th with this easy white cake recipe, your strawberries and whipped cream will thank you!
Ingredients for Strawberry Shortcake:
Ingredients for visitandine:
4 large egg whites, preferably at room temperature
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of white sugar
a pinch of salt
7 tablespoons of butter, melted and slightly cooled (we used brown butter - see below)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Ingredients for strawberries:
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tablespoons of sugar
Ingredients for whipped cream:
2 cups of whipping cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Place butter in a small sauce pan. Turn up the heat once the butter is melted so that it begins to boil, gently. Watching carefully, continue to simmer the butter until it turns a golden brown. As soon as you get the color needed, take the butter off the heat and place in a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking process. Allow butter to cool.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Choose a pan of your liking (we used a 10 inch round cake pan). Note that cooking time is based on a 10 inch pan, longer cook time for smaller pans, shorter cook time for larger pans.
Butter the pan and line it with a circle of parchment paper; butter the parchment.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites until they hold firm peaks but are still glossy.
In a another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Pour in the melted butter, followed by the vanilla, and, using the whisk, stir until the ingredients are fully blended. The mixture will clump and look "slightly hopeless" but continue stirring gently to mix.
With the whisk, slide half of the egg whites onto the batter, whisk to stir them in gently. Fold in the remaining egg whites and again whisk gently. Scrape the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan to even the top.
Bake the cake for 33 to 38 minutes, or until it's beautifully browned and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Once out of the oven, run a blunt knife around the edge of the cake. Still in the pan, place on a cooling rack for 3 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, remove the parchment, and allow the cake to cool to room temperature.
Place cut strawberries in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. This allows the juices to be released from the strawberries. You can do this prior to baking the cake and they can be refrigerated until ready to serve.
Place whipping cream, vanilla and sugar in a bowl and using a stand or hand mixer, whip the cream until slightly stiff peaks form. Whip cream just prior to serving the visitandine.
The visitandine can be cut into wedges and served or you can do as we did and using a cookie cutter, cut circles and place them into the bottom of a round serving bowl. Place strawberries on top, followed by whipped cream. Repeat as many times as you would like to enjoy them incredibly delicious dish! This serves up to 8 people.