Monday, April 16, 2007

everybody loves strawberry shortcake

And it's really pretty easy to make.

Springtime is strawberry time, and any time is whipped cream time. Though many people might think of the spongy cake covered in whipped cream when they hear strawberry shortcake, I actually prefer the more classic biscuit-style version, which is what shortcake really is. A simple sweetened biscuit recipe topped with sugared fresh strawberries and fresh whipped cream is a great dessert when you have company, because you can make all three components ahead of time, and simply construct the dessert just before serving. Recipe after the jump:

This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's recipe for Blueberry Shortcake from his book "I'm Just Here For More Food". I love blueberries and would love to make it his way, but it's just not season yet. This recipe makes about 8 3-inch shortcakes:



4 cups sliced strawberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar (he calls for a full cup, I found that way too sweet)
2 tbsps lemon juice

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar (again he called for more, I must just not like sweet as much)
6 tbsps cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg

Whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Combine strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside at room temperature while you make the shortcakes. Preheat oven to 400ยบ. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, incorporate the cold butter into the flour. Only combine enough so that there are no large chunks of butter. If you try to break it down too much you will heat and soften the butter and this will result in a denser, flatter cake. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the heavy cream and egg in the well. Combine well with a fork. Turn out the dough onto a flour surface and knead just until dough comes together. Alton then breaks up the dough into 8 pieces and shapes by hand. I wanted to fancy it up a bit with a fluted biscuit cutter, so I flattened it to a 1/2 inch thick disk and cut the cakes out.

At this point, you could melt butter and brush the tops of the cakes if you wanted a nice shiny finish, but I didn't bother because I was just going to eat these right away. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until risen and lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool. In the meantime, make the whipped cream.

When biscuits have cooled, slice in half. Cover the bottom half with the strawberries, which by now should be sitting in a pool of delicious syrup. It is a good idea to use some of that syrup to soften the bottom shortcake. Top the strawberries with a big dollop of whipped cream, then replace the top half of the shortcake.

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