Raspberry Shortcake — or “How to admit you were wrong about your sibling”

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I’m just going to tell it to you like it is: I love being the centre of attention. And as a young child, I loved being the centre of attention even more. I don’t think it really ever occurred to me that after two-and-a-half years of pot-banging and tantrum throwing and just generally terrorizing my family members until they at least feigned interest in whatever it was that I was doing, that eventually my tyrannical reign over my parents’ attention would come to an end.

Enter: the little brother.

Now, at first I was highly mistrustful (not to mention jealous) of this other tiny human on the scene. Why were my parents spending so much time feeding and bathing him when they obviously should have been paying attention to me? Why was his hair so curly? Why did he get to wear adorable glasses or his little rosy face?

And as time went on, my initial suspicions were increasingly justified, as my brother proved to be quite the match for me. He’d pull my hair. He’d follow me around the house and repeat everything that I said, especially if he realized it was a word that shouldn’t be repeated. He’d catch me snacking and threaten to expose me to the grownups unless I shared the pilfered Smarties with him. He wanted my bouncy ball, and when I tried to reclaim it, he bit off half of it and swallowed. This kid meant business, and he was here to stay.

Of course, things are a little different these days. As of yesterday, my brother’s been on the scene for twenty-one years and I couldn’t ask for a better sibling. Now he’s a speed-talking wisecracking, computer-savvy whiz kid. I owe him my gratitude for his tireless help and support over the years, not the least of which includes his recent assistance getting this site up and running, and being patient with my insane late-night phonecalls about the subscription list.

So I just wanted to say to my little brother: Thank you, I love you, I can’t wait to keep hanging out in the years to come — and you owe me a bouncy ball; don’t you even think I’ve forgotten.

Raspberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream Frosting

Adapted from The Candid Appetite

Note: I chose this cake because my brother’s always loved strawberry shortcake. Unfortunately, the strawberries available in Toronto in December are about as terrible as can be, so I used raspberries instead. Also, I always worry about baking sponge cakes if it’s particularly humid outside; if you’re at all worried about the cake sinking or being sticky, use a recipe for basic yellow or white cake instead — I’m sure those would work just as well.

For the cake (makes two 9-inch round cakes):

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls. Start by beating the egg yolks until very thick and lemon colored. Beat in sugar gradually. Add water and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.

2. In another bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Then add cream of tartar and salt. Beat mixture until whites are stiff, but not until they are dry. Fold the whipped egg whites mixture into yolk mixture, carefully, so as to not deflate the egg whites.

3. Pour the batter into two parchment-lined ungreased 9-inch pans. Bake at 325° for forty minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Rotate the pans halfway through, to ensure even baking.

4. Allow the cakes to cool on a cooling rack. Invert the cakes.

Raspberry Layer:

  • 2 small packages of raspberries
  • 1/4 c. black or red currant jelly (or another seedless jam of your preference)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1Tbs vanilla extract)

1. Place the lemon juice and the sugar in a medium saucepan and heat while stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Add vanilla, jelly, and one package of the raspberries. Toss to coat, and set aside.

Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 2 cups very cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean

1. In a large mixing bowl, pour the heavy cream and mix on low-medium speed for several minutes. Once the cream has frothed and slightly thickened, add the sugar and vanilla. Continue to whip on medium-high until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over mix the cream, as it could turn into butter rather fast.

To assemble the cake,place one of the layers on a serving plate or stand. Dollop with a few spoonfuls of the whipped cream (recipe follows) and spread evenly over the cake layer. Arrange the raspberries evenly over the cream. Top with the second layer of sponge cake. Place a massive dollop of the whipped cream. Spread out evenly over the top and allowing the cream to fall down the sides. Using an offset spatula cover the cake completely with the whipped cream. Smooth it out, removing any excess cream. Dot the top of the cake with the remaining raspberries.

Best assembled at the last possible minute, and devoured with awesome siblings.

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5 Responses to “Raspberry Shortcake — or “How to admit you were wrong about your sibling””

  1. Carrie Lipson December 8, 2012 at 11:55 PM #

    Your post seriously brought tears to my eyes and after a day of some serious sibling rivalry with the girls gave me some much needed hope.

  2. Dadaa December 6, 2012 at 2:03 PM #

    Trust me: all that “feigning interest” was exhausting!

    What ball?

  3. Florence pape December 5, 2012 at 7:27 PM #

    Of course I am prejudiced, but that was a lovely tribute to your brother. Without tasting that cake, I can’t imagine that it was anything but delicious. The picture of it indicated pure perfection !!
    Love, F
    p.s.
    Loved the photo of the two of you.

  4. Elsa December 5, 2012 at 6:33 PM #

    You are a chip off the old block. I remember strawberry shortcakes made by your great Grandmother,Sarah. Elsa.

    • Uncle Andy March 26, 2014 at 6:55 PM #

      I agree with Elsa — you are definitely a chip off the old block. Your father may not remember this, but our Dad’s favourite dessert was strawberry shortcake. Question: during your growing-up years, if something in the house were to break, was it you who originated the expression “Don’t blake ME!”?