I realize it's not strawberry season in most parts of the world, but here in Japan, the strawberry season runs from December through the end of March, which puts us at the peak right now.
We were recently gifted a case of AMAOU strawberries from Fukuoka prefecture. AMAOU Is an acronym for Amai (sweet), MArui(round), Ōkii(big), and Umai (delicious), and it's one of the few things in life that lives up to its name. The first time I had them was in New York. I found some imported ones selling for over $60 for a pack of 4 berries. It was unthinkably expensive at the time, but the aroma and allure of luxury strawberries were too much to pass. Here in Japan, they're not nearly as expensive, but they are still a tiny splurge at about $1 each.
Normally I wouldn't dream of doing anything other than eating them straight off the calyx, but due to the current abundance, it occurred to me that these would be amazing in a strawberry shortcake. In the US, shortcakes are usually made with biscuit dough, but in Japan, our shortcakes are sponge cakes layered with strawberries and cream.
My idea was to create something between the two, and this easy microwave mug cake strikes the perfect balance. It's light and fluffy like a spongecake but also rich and buttery like a biscuit. It's not the prettiest thing in the world, but I'd take this over both the Japanese and American versions any day, and it can be thrown together in about 5 minutes.
The most challenging part of this cake is to figure out the exact amount of time you need to cook the cake, but once you have the magic number for your equipment, it should turn out flawlessly every time.
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