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Nanny’s Strawberry Shortcake

This is the lightest, creamiest Strawberry Shortcake you’ll ever taste! Oftentimes, Strawberry Shortcake is made with either a yellow cake or a sweet biscuit base. This recipe calls for a much softer, fatless sponge cake that will melt in your mouth along with the creamy vanilla pudding and billowy, homemade whipped cream. This recipe has minimal sugar but contains just the right amount of sweetness for such a light, airy cake. The tartness of fresh strawberries beautifully contrasts the creaminess in this cake. It is best served 24 hours after assembling it to allow the filling to soak through. It tastes even better the second and third day (if it lasts that long)!

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Strawberry Shortcake: A 75-year Family Tradition (and Poppy’s favorite cake)

My family has been making this recipe for the last 75 years and I refuse to change a single thing about it! My grandmother (Nanny) baked this cake every year for my grandfather’s birthday, and ever since my husband and I started dating, I’ve made it each year for his. Our whole family enjoys this cake, but it always seems to be most favored by the men (my father loves it too!).

Nanny’s 95th Birthday


The Sponge Cake

What I love the most about this cake is the loose crumb that allows the creamy filling to soak through. I typically recommend this Cake Leveler for cutting cake layers. Due to the spongey texture of this cake, only a sharp knife will work.


The Vanilla Pudding Filling

With just three simple ingredients, this vanilla pudding filling couldn’t be easier! Always use Jell-O cook & serve as opposed to the instant pudding & pie mixture, since the flavor and texture are different!


The Strawberries

I always recommend purchasing fresh fruit from a local farm whenever possible. You are not only supporting local business, but you are also getting a better-quality product! Out of all fresh fruit, I find strawberries to have the biggest quality disparity when comparing locally grown to the grocery store.

A strawberry that is bright red in the center is perfectly ripe; strawberries with some white in the center can be hulled to improve the flavor!


The Whipped Cream

Since this recipe doesn’t include much sugar, add a small amount of confectioner’s sugar to the whipped cream, to taste.


Assembling the Strawberry Shortcake

It’s important to place the first three cake layers cut side up since it’s the most porous! If the cake looks lopsided once assembled, add extra strawberries into the layers around the outer edge to level it.

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Nanny’s Strawberry Shortcake


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  • Author: Amy @ The Pastry Blog
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the filling:

  • 2 lbs fresh strawberries
  • (1) 3oz box of Jell-O Vanilla Cook & Serve Pudding & Pie Filling
  • 420 ml whole milk
  • 5 heaping tablespoons whipped topping, such as Cool Whip, thawed in the refrigerator

For the sponge cake:

  • 5 large eggs (250 g), separated
  • 5 tbsp hot water
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 125 g unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

For the whipped cream:

  • 480 ml heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar, to taste (optional)

Instructions

For the filling:

  1. Prepare the strawberries by washing, removing the stem, and cutting in half. For best results, hull any strawberries with a white center.
  2. Combine the vanilla pudding mix and whole milk into a medium saucepan until the pudding has thickened and is brought to a boil, whisking continuously. 
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, whisking periodically as the pudding cools (the pudding will continue to thicken as it cools). Once the pudding is close to room temperature, continue to chill in the refrigerator.
  4. Into the pudding, add 5 heaping tablespoons of whipped topping and mix until fully incorporated.

For the sponge cake:

  1. Line (2) 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325˚F.
  2. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer using a whisk attachment.
  3. With a hand mixer or a whisk, beat the egg yolks until lemon colored. Gradually whisk in the hot water.
  4. Beat or whisk in the sugar.
  5. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together into a medium bowl.
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture into the yolk mixture.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  8. Fold one fourth of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture until blended.
  9. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Fold the batter until the mixture is mostly incorporated while trying to maintain the volume of the egg whites.
  10. Divide evenly into (2) 8-inch pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is slightly browned. When you gently press your finger onto the top of the cake, the cake should spring back and any indent should disappear. 
  11. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the whipped cream:

  1. In the bowl of a chilled stand mixer using a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. If you prefer a sweetened whipped cream, add powdered sugar, to taste.
  2. Chill the bowl of whipped cream in the refrigerator until use.

To assemble:

  1. With a large, sharp knife, carefully cut each cake layer horizontally into two even layers.
  2. Starting with a bottom cake layer cut side up, place the cake onto a  large plate or cake stand and top with one third of the pudding mixture. 
  3. Top the pudding with a layer of halved strawberries, cut side down.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the next 2 layers with the cake cut-side up. 
  5. Place the final cake layer on top, cut side down.
  6. Cover the cake in a thick layer of whipped cream and decorate with the remaining strawberries.
  7. Store the cake in an airtight container the refrigerator. Keep the cake chilled as much as possible as it is sensitive to heat!
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes

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