April 26, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake



    In springtime, one of my favorite desserts is strawberry shortcake.  I love the freshness of strawberries in season, their acidic juicy sweetness combined with biscuit style shortcakes, strawberry sauce and fresh whipped cream.  The shortcake maintains its form as a cake without dissolving with the additional liquid of strawberry sauce, macerated strawberries and the whipped cream. The combination of textures is wonderful – crumbly lightly sweetened cake, sweet and acidic strawberries and the soft mellow pillow of whipped cream. 
    As a teenager I can remember my Mom hulling and slicing strawberries and placing them in big yellow Pyrex bowl.  She would mix in sugar and let them sit and after they gave off all their juice, Mom would then smash them with a potato masher with gusto.  The shortcake was served on Sara Lee pound with fresh whipped cream.  I never heard of making strawberry shortcake with biscuits until I was married and watching Jeff Smith’s cooking show on PBS.  I serve strawberry shortcake often and the addition of the Strawberry Sauce adds an extra intensity of flavor but it isn’t necessary.

Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 20 two inch biscuits

2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter cut into ½ inch squares or pieces
¾ cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 F
Grease a cast iron pan or a baking sheet.
In a large bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, mix with wire whisk or the butter cutting in tool.
Add butter pieces and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until the butter resembles cornmeal.
Add milk and mix until comes together in a shaggy mixture, careful not over mix.
On a floured surface, scrape out dough and knead a few times then flatten out into a rectangle and fold edges in like a letter. Do this twice (this adds flakiness to your biscuit shortcakes).
Flatten again to about 1 to 1 ½ high and cut with a small round biscuit cutter.
Place biscuits in pan close together and bake for 12 minutes or until done.

Strawberry Maceration

2 quarts fresh strawberries
1/8 to ¼ cup of sugar depending on your strawberries’ sweetness.

Wash and hull strawberries.
Quarter strawberries then cut each quarter again.
Squeeze of lemon about a teaspoon

Place in bowl and mix in sugar to begin the maceration (release of juices).
Let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour or until you have your desired juiciness.  This can be done overnight with a loss of firmness of the strawberries.  I prefer mine to have some firmness. 

Strawberry Sauce
2 cups of frozen strawberries or fresh (I only use my strawberries that I put up in the summer and freeze in 2 cup portions).
Sugar to taste
Squeeze of fresh lemon

Whiz the sauce around in a food processor until smooth.

Fresh Whipped Cream
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 to 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
½ teaspoon of vanilla if desired

Put bowl and whisk in freezer 1 hour before whipping.
Add ingredients to ice cold bowl and whip to firm peaks or as desired.

Strawberry Shortcake Assembly
Open faced or stacked

Cut shortcake in half
Spoon sauce on bottom halves,
Pile on strawberries and juice,
Spoon on whipped cream,
If serving stacked, add the top at this point
Add small amount of whipped cream
Add a few more strawberries
Serve with a side of sauce.

Another alternative is to pool sauce on bottom of plate


water droplets lined up


pick your own strawberries!

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