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Monday, June 21, 2010

Never mind the toys

This is a rant.

It's about strawberry shortcake. No, it isn't about the cartoon character (which will predominate your Google search should you decide to try). It's about what gets called a strawberry shortcake in most bakeries and restaurants in Houston. And maybe America, but I'm not sure.

One of the traditional attractions for the Pasadena Strawberry Festival is the so called "Biggest Strawberry Shortcake in the World". What it is a layered field of industrial sponge cake, synthetic whipped topping, and strawberries coated in neon red goo.

Even a store targeted to the food knowledgeable like Central Market offers two different things called strawberry shortcake. And only one of them is accurate.

Problem is, any kind of cake and strawberry combination gets labelled a strawberry shortcake. A shortcake is a very specific kind of cake, more akin to a scone than a classic sponge. Combined with fresh strawberries and rich whipped cream, the combination is at once rich and ephemereal. While I am no stickler for absolute authenticity, I do agree that the name of a dish should at least bear some semblance to its archetype. With strawberry season in full swing, I should hope that bakers out there stop calling things which are strawberry cakes shortcakes.

And stop using that disgusting red goo.


  1. I also vote boo on the red goo! Strawberry shortcake (the good kind!) is a favorite of mine.


  2. I mostly don't like shortcake. The shortcakes I've had are rather too dry. That said, it's true. Most restaurants and stores that sell shortcake are actually selling something much more like spongecake...