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Published April 8th, 2015
Tis the Season for a Special Strawberry Shortcake
Fluffy yellow cake with mascarpone-lemon curd cream and strawberries Photo Susie Iventosch

It's definitely strawberry season as we roll into April and May and I just picked up a pint of really nice, sweet and juicy strawberries for this dessert! This yellow cake is very light and airy which makes a wonderful palette for the amazing whipped cream concoction. The cream is made with just a bit of mascarpone cheese, which helps the whipped cream hold longer, and then blended with lemon curd to give it a zestier taste than just plain whipping cream. This topping would be wonderful in place of plain whipped cream for regular strawberry shortcake, too.

Strawberry Shortcake

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
Line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with waxed paper or parchment. Spray sides with cooking spray.
In a bowl, mix dries (flour, baking powder and salt) together and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add dries and milk alternately, beginning and ending with dries.
Pour evenly into the cake pans and bake at 350 F for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Lemon Curd with Mascarpone and Whipped Cream
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
Whisk eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, until mixture begins to thicken. Sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from heat and cool completely. (If the lemon curd is lumpy, strain before chilling).
Meanwhile, while lemon curd is cooling, beat heavy cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In another bowl, beat mascarpone cheese until soft and creamy. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the cooled lemon curd until well blended. Add the remaining lemon curd to this mixture, so that all of the lemon curd is incorporated into the mascarpone. Gently fold this lemon-curd mixture into the whipped cream until blended.
1 pint strawberries, cleaned. Slice berries, but leave a few of the smaller ones whole for the top of the cake.
Place one layer of cake on your cake plate. Spread half of the filling over the top and then arrange a bed of sliced strawberries over the cream. Place the second layer of cake over berries and spread remaining filling over the top. Arrange remaining sliced berries on top with just a few whole berries* in the very center.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
*I used too many whole berries on top, and would prefer to have used more sliced berries. It makes it easier to serve and to eat with the berries sliced!

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