April 30, 2017

Strawberry Shortcake Bars

The initial weeks after my big wedding cake extravaganza (on April 1st), I was all baked-out. Actually, I wouldn't even go that far. I was just exhausted. I was tired of being on my feet all day at work and then all evening after work. I was tired of spending my precious, much-needed weekends cooped up in the kitchen causing me to be too tired to see friends or visit family. I needed one of those weekends where I had no obligations, no reason to set an alarm in the morning, and no one to answer to (Jarryd being an exception, of course).

Easter weekend was on its way and showing up at the family gathering without a dessert in-hand would just be unacceptable. (Yes, I'm the "designated dessert bringer" and I'm totally OK with that!) I needed something easy, super quick to put together, and just stress-free...

Normally something stress-free to me is something that I've already made before and have full confidence that it's going to be a hit because it's already been tested. My amazing carrot cake recipe is one that I could do with my eyes closed, BUT I've already gifted my family gatherings with that one--more than once too. So I needed to find something new, Spring-themed, and easy.
Also, there was some heavy whipping cream and cream cheese blocks leftover from all the wedding cake baking that I had been itching to use up. Hmmm...what is a delicious dessert that is encompasses fluffy white clouds of whipped cream? 😍
Strawberry Shortcake, of course!!
My ideal strawberry shortcake would either be in a big glass trifle-bowl, because I love seeing all of those layers of cake, whipped cream, and fruit. OR it would be layers and layers of cake, whipped cream, and berries in a naked cake form. Naked and semi-naked cakes have been very trendy for the past couple of years but I've yet to make one!
But, I didn't want to do either of those forms of strawberry shortcake because I don't have a trifle bowl--nor did I feel like buying one. And layer cakes are just a little time consuming. You have to grease the pans and then cut out parchment rounds to place in the pans, you have to bake them, then potentially torte them, then layer/stack them, all the while hoping it doesn't fall over because whipped cream isn't the most stable of frostings. Also, I didn't have a cake round to place the cake on, or a cake box to transport the cake.

So, I thought it was best to save my ideal strawberry shortcakes for another weekend when I wasn't feeling so worn out and desperate for rest. I ended up finding a strawberry shortcake BARS recipe that gets baked in a 9" x 13" pan. You guys, anytime I hear the words "9' x 13' pan" it's like music to my ears. Anything baked in a pan like that is going to be SIMPLE. A big reason is because when I was first starting out baking, I would bake everything in a rectangle or square because round cake pans were scary. Five years later, I own practically every size of round cake pans and have been using them on the regular. I guess it's true we fear what we don't know, right?! And unlike slicing into a tall, unstable, naked cake, with berries and cream filling oozing out the sides, serving this flat, long cake would be a total breeze! It's so mess-free it practically serves itself. 😆
I found this Strawberry Shortcake Bars recipe from Lil' Luna's blog, but I altered and tweaked it a bit simply because I prefer everything to be made from scratch (no Cool Whip for this girl)!
Strawberry Shortcake Bars (12-15 servings)

Vanilla-Butter Cake Layer:
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)

Strawberry Layer:
1+ pint of strawberries, sliced

Whipped Cream Layer:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar

1. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter until creamy. Mix in eggs, baking powder and salt. Alternate between adding in the flour and milk, beating after each addition. Beat until all ingredients are combined. Stir in vanilla extract.
2. Pour batter evenly into a greased and floured a 9" x 13" baking dish. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Cake should be flat and light in color. Let cool completely and set aside.
4. Slice strawberries and set aside.
5. In chilled metal bowl, whip whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
6. In separate bowl, cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Scrape the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture bowl and keep folding gently until combined. 
7. Evenly spread cream mixture over top of cooled cake. Top with sliced strawberries.
8. Refrigerate for 3 hours and serve!

See! How easy it that?! And I love how all you have to do to the strawberries is wash, slice, and sprinkle them all on top of the cake! This recipe was so easy that it felt like I hardly spent anytime in the kitchen that weekend. Mission accomplished!
I'm pleased to say that these strawberry shortcake bars were a hit at the Easter family gathering! It truly goes to show that you don't need a fancy time-consuming layer cake that's embellished with all kinds of piped buttercream in order to impress. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE showing up to parties with desserts like that, but I appreciate simple desserts as well.
I hope I've inspired you to bake some strawberry shortcake bars of your very own! Let me know if you ever end up baking this and how it turned out! I'd love to hear! Happy spring baking, friends! 💛

1 comment:

  1. One of my favourite desserts! Looks positively delightful.