Our annual trip to Disney World was one of the best yet. The crowds were light, weather was tolerable, and some new restaurants were added to our list of favorites. I’ll show you my list if you post yours, but first I want to tell you about one of my favorite Disney desserts — Sunshine Seasons Strawberry Shortcake. It’s served in “The Land” at Epcot.
I snapped this photo while we were eating so I could try to make my own version at home.
There are a couple of “copycat” recipes on the Internet, and neither of them are exactly the same as the cake sold at Disney. The Sunshine Seasons strawberry shortcake has a base consisting of two very thin cake layers sandwiching a layer of strawberry glaze. On top of the two thin layers rests a layer of whipped cream and strawberries, a thicker layer of cake, more glaze, another layer of whipped cream and strawberries, and a final layer of cake.
As for the topping, it seemed a little thicker than the whipped cream that was between the layers so they must combine the top layer of whipped cream with regular frosting or possibly cream cheese. I also noticed that the middle layer of cake seemed like a different kind of cake than the top and bottom layers, but after I experimented with several different recipes, I suspected that it was just because the middle layer absorbs more moisture after sitting around. Would Disney really put a layer of pound cake between layers of sponge?
I made three versions of the cake this weekend — two that were adapted from recipes that people said were from Disney and one using one of my favorite sponge cakes with oil. The one we liked the best was one of the alleged Disney versions, only the recipe clone didn’t give all the steps on assembly so I had to come up with my own method. By the time I got to this version of the cake, I was a little slap happy with carving and this piece isn’t the greatest representation, but I am going to stick with the method I used for all future versions of this cake. Note: For anyone tempted to send me the link to the recipe on allears.net, that’s the one this is based on :). It calls for 3 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water etc. but the sponge on allears (and below) is not the same as Disney’s. It’s a good start, though! The tricky part was figuring out the composition of Disney’s cake. The one at Sunshine Seasons was a little yellower. At first I thought maybe they’d added oil or butter, but after making three different cakes, the lean, oil-free jelly roll recipe soaked up the most mixture without getting soggy, and we liked it best.It does get better after it sits, though.This photo was taken on Day 2, but I think the sweet spot might be at 6 or 8 hours. I had so much fun making this cake and if anything, it was a good exercise in making jelly roll cakes and sponges. But now that I’ve made this one, I might keep trying new versions to find one that’s yellower without tasting egg-y. This one was definitely not egg-y tasting.
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (7 oz) granulated or superfine sugar
- 1 cup (4 oz) cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup (more or less) Smucker’s strawberry sundae topping**
- 5 or 6 cups fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced (buy 2 pounds to be safe)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 ounces of softened cream cheese or mascarpone
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease bottom only of a 15x10 inch jellyroll pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
- Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment for five minutes. Gradually beat in sugar, beating for another 2-3 minutes. While the mixer is going, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt).
- Reduce mixer speed to medium low and beat in water and vanilla.
- Remove bowl from stand and fold in the flour mixture. Batter should be fairly liquid and bubbly.
- Pour into the pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Loosen edges from pan with a knife and let cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a flat surface. Peel away parchment paper, then invert again onto a large cooling rack. Cool completely. Freeze for about an hour to make carving easier.
- Prepare the whipped cream filling. Beat the cream until stiff peaks just start to form, then beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla (don't overbeat). Keep chilled while you carve the cake.
- Line the inside of a 9x13 inch pan with plastic wrap leaving a couple of inches of overhang.
- To carve, put the cake on a cutting board. Cut it in half so that you have two 10x7 ½ inch rectangles. Take one of the rectangles and split it into two uneven layers, one very thin and one thick. Repeat with the second rectangle. You should end up with two thin layers and two thick layers total.
- Put one of the thin layers of cake in the bottom of the lined pan and spread a thin layer of sundae topping over it. Top it with the second thin layer of cake. Spread a layer of whipped cream over the cake, then arrange strawberry slices evenly over the whipped cream. Spread a little more whipped cream over the strawberries, then lay one of the thick layers of cake over it, cut side up. Spread strawberry topping over that layer of cake, then add a layer of strawberries and whipped cream. Top with remaining thick layer of cake. Cover cake with plastic wrap and chill while you make the topping.
- To make the cream cheese topping, beat the 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream JUST until stiff peaks form (don’t overbeat). Set aside. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese (or mascarpone), confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Fold the lightly whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Spread across top of the cake, reserving some of it to pipe rosettes if desired. Run a cake comb or a fork through the top to make stripes.
- Chill for 4 to 6 hours or until ready to serve. To serve, lift from the pan and cut into squares. Garnish each square with a rosette (or just a blob) of frosting and a strawberry half.
If you want to make the cake lighter, skip the heavy whipping cream and use low fat or fat free whipped topping!