Strawberry checkerboard shortcake

I… am actually surprised I have not shared this recipe yet. It’s a really fun one, because it’s got strawberry and vanilla chiffon cakes inside of the cake, surrounded by homemade ladyfingers, a mirror glaze, and topped with glazed berries and edible pearls. I really just wanted to make a dessert that is fun to look at but does not suffer in the taste department as a result.

Honestly, this cake took me about two days to make. Mostly because I have only one of each kind of pan I use and one oven, so it took a while, but it gave me more time to be precise with everything (I even took the liberty of measuring out the rounds as I made them using a bloody ruler).

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For the vanilla cake:
4 egg whites
2 egg yolks
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons canola oil
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the strawberry cake:
4 egg whites
2 egg yolks
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons canola oil
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry puree

For both cakes, you’ll need to whip the egg whites with 3 parts of the sugar, and the egg yolks with the remaining 1 part of the sugar and the canola oil. The whites must be stiff peaks, while the yolks must be at ribbon stage thickness (you can write the figure “8” with the yolks using a whisk). Sift the baking powder and flour together. Fold all of the ingredients together. If you are making the strawberry cake, make sure to whip the puree into the egg yolks first before doing this step. Pour the batter into a lined 6 inch baking ring, and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in the oven, turned off, for another 5 minutes, before removing entirely.

With the cakes, first level off the tops of each cake, then slice each one into four layers. With each layer, you will then slice out rounds, 1/2 an inch apart from each other (you will be slicing a total of four rounds per layer). Swap the rounds so that you will have a layer with pink then white, then pink, the white, or visa versa.

For the chantilly cream:
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup whipped cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Melt the gelatin and sugar with the water and pour into the cream cheese, whipping everything together. Fold in the salt and vanilla, then the whipped cream, and allowing the mixture to set for an hour before using.

For the mirror glaze:
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup strawberry puree
2 packets gelatin powder + 1/4 cup water

Bloom gelatin and then melt into the strawberry puree. Melt down white chocolate and combine together. Strain to remove air bubbles and lumps.

For ladyfingers:
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip eggs and sugar with baking powder and vanilla until they hit ribbon stage. Fold in the sifted flour and butter. Transfer to a piping bag. Pipe onto a lined baking sheet (you are aiming for them to be about 4 inches in length, just enough to cover the sides of your cake) and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

For assembly:
Spread the chantilly onto each cake layer, then spread it around the cake, smoothing out the edges using an offset spatula. Freeze overnight. Pour the glaze, heated to 90 degrees, over the cake, and then press the ladyfingers against the unset glaze so that they will stick to the cake. For garnish, top with strawberries that have been tossed in honey.

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