Thursday, May 31, 2012

Classic Strawberry Shortcake


Oh, do I have a sweet tooth.  Though a slightly discerning one.  Slightly.  I've never been one for straight-up sugar - jelly beans, candy corns, and such, though I rarely meet a dark chocolate I don't love.  I like most anything that has cream - creme brulee, custards, and so on.  But perhaps my most favorite dessert genre is fruit desserts - crisps, cobblers, pies, tarts, you name it.  And when the weather starts to turn warm, I find myself making strawberry shortcake again and again.  How perfect...fruit and cream!

I'm all for a good pound cake, but for me, this isn't the place for it.  I like strawberry shortcake with a biscuity base, crumbly and buttery and only a little bit sweet.  Top it with some lightly sugared strawberries and vanilla whipped cream and I am pretty much in dessert heaven.

I'm not sure exactly where this biscuit recipe came from.  It has been passed from my great-grandmom to my grandmom to my mom to me.  I know my great-grandmom was a great baker but I don't know if she made this up or it came from a 1920's cookbook or where it actually originated.  But it's the only biscuit recipe I ever make.  If you are sure not to overstir the dough, you will get melt-in-your-mouth biscuits every time.  If you're looking for a biscuit to accompany something savory, cut the sugar in the below recipe in half and they are perfect with eggs or chicken or, heck, straight out of the baking dish and into your mouth.  Believe me, I've done it.

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients
2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
milk (see below for amount)
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 tbsp. sugar, divided
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 c. sugar in medium bowl to blend.  Cut butter into mixture using a pastry cutter.  You want some fairly large chunks of butter left in here.


Crack the egg into a measuring cup and add enough milk on top of the egg to measure 3/4 c.  Whisk to combine, then pour over flour mixture.  Fold gently together with a rubber spatula.  You want the flour to be sticking together but the whole mixture should look quite lumpy.  The lumps are what give you lovely, tender buscuits.


Spoon into a 9" square glass baking dish and bake for about 12 minutes, until the top and edges are golden.  (This is kind of the easy way out.  You can also shape into balls or use a cutter to make shapes, but I love the ease and rusticity of using a baking dish and then having a chunk of biscuit under my strawberries).


While the biscuits are baking, stir together the strawberries and 1 tbsp. sugar and let sit.

Whip the cream, vanilla, and 2 tbsp sugar until you have soft peaks.

When the biscuits have cooled a bit (or, honestly, a few hours later they are still just as good), top a wedge with a big spoonful of strawberries and a hearty dollop of whipped cream.  I've said it before...classics are classics for a reason.  They are just so good.


I'm clearly not the only one in the family who has a thing for whipped cream.






Click here for printable recipe.

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