A touch of balsamic vinegar brings out the juicy sweetness of fresh local strawberries in these easy strawberry shortcakes, served in pint-size mason jars. Buttery vanilla pound cake and fresh whipped cream complement the strawberries perfectly for the ultimate summer dessert!
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Local strawberries are slowly starting to make their appearance at our farmer’s market! Quebec strawberries are a big deal around here, and with good reason. They have nothing in common with the gigantic, watery imported strawberries that we get for the rest of the year. These are sweet and juicy and bright red all the way through. By the end of June and through the month of July, strawberry season is in full swing here. In a good summer, I’ve been able to find beautiful strawberries well into August.
The best way to eat them when they’re in season is, of course, raw and unadorned. But I find that the earliest ones to come out are not usually at peak sweetness. With a touch of sugar and balsamic vinegar though, they are perfect.
So that’s what I did for these easy strawberry shortcakes. Balsamic strawberries are layered with buttery pound cake and whipped cream. It’s simple, summery and delicious. I decided to bump up the summery factor by serving them in individual servings in pint-size mason jars.
I don’t make pound cake often, but as vanilla pound cakes go, this one was absolutely amazing, with intense buttery vanilla flavor and a great texture. The recipe is from Joanne Chang’s terrific book, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. My very first recipe on the blog, these brown butter crispy rice treats, came from this book, and it is absolutely in my top 5 baking books.
If you’re celebrating Canada Day, these easy strawberry shortcakes would be perfect for a backyard BBQ. For 4th of July, try adding a layer of blueberries!
Look out for more strawberry recipes coming your way in the next few weeks!
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Easy Strawberry Shortcakes with Balsamic Vinegar
Vanilla Pound Cake
- 2 cups cake flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup +3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled till slightly warm
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Vanilla Pound Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a cake or loaf pan. I used a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan, which worked well for the thickness I wanted, but you could use a round cake pan, or bake it in a loaf pan and cut the cake into cubes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt vigorously to break up the cake flour lumps.
Slice the vanilla bean half lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla seeds with the back of a knife. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the melted butter, cream, vanilla seeds and extract until well combined. If the mixture gets too thick as you whisk it, or the butter starts to get lumpy, heat it for a couple of seconds in the microwave.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Fold about 1/4 of this mixture into the butter-cream mixture until just combined. Then fold in the rest of the egg-flour mixture until well-combined.
Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and the center of the cake springs back when pressed in the center. The baking time will vary greatly based on the size and type of pan you used, but in my 9 x 9 inch square pan, it took about 35 minutes. In a loaf pan it will take about an hour.
Cool the cake in the pan for about 30 minutes and turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, slice the strawberries, reserving 4 whole strawberries to top the shortcakes, if desired. Toss sliced strawberries in a medium bowl with the sugar, vanilla extract and balsamic vinegar until well combined.
In a medium glass or metal bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream and sugar and whip or beat with hand or stand mixer until stiff peaks form, about 5 - 8 minutes.
Using a knife or 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut 8 rounds of pound cake. (Alternatively, cut 1-inch cubes of pound cake). Place one cake round or a few cubes of cake into four pint-size glass mason jars.
Layer with a few spoonfuls of balsamic strawberries. Add a couple tablespoons of whipped cream and repeat with another layer of each component. Top each shortcake with a whole strawberry if desired. Serve right away.
Pound cake recipe from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe by Joanne Chang