Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

Sunday May 7, 2017

Don’t mess with my strawberry shortcake. I like it traditional. Genuine fruit shortcakes are an American summer passion.  It is the balance of sweet, juicy fruit, fluffy whipped creams, and crumby, rich biscuits that make them irresistible.  This version is the essence of the genre. No extra flavorings, not too much sugar. Just highlighting the berries and fresh biscuit and oh creamy whipped cream. Start with lots of ripe berries, then whip the cream with just a dash of sugar and vanilla for a hint of flavoring.  The biscuit must be impeccably fresh, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. You can also form this into 2 larger biscuits (just divide the dough in half) and make 1 large shortcake and serve in wedges.

Makes 8 biscuits for 4 individual shortcakes

Ingredients

Biscuits

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or white spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup cold milk
  • Melted butter, for brushing tops

The Strawberries

  • 4 to  5 pint baskets of ripe strawberries, washed, dried, and hulled (2 quarts)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 sugar, or to taste

Vanilla Crème Chantilly

  • 2 cups (1 pint) cold heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

1.            Preheat the oven to 400º.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the butter pieces into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal laced with small chunks of butter. Add the milk to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened, adding additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time if the mixture seems too dry.

2.            Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and gently knead a few times just until the dough just comes together.  The dough will not be totally smooth.  Roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch and cut into 4-inch circles, squares, or hearts. You should have 8 rounds. (Individual shortcakes can be made as small as 1 1/2 inches or formed into 1 large biscuit that can be filled and cut into wedges to serve).  Place the individual shortcakes about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with melted butter.

3.            Bake in the center of the preheated oven until the tops are brown and firm to the touch, about 15 to 18 minutes.  Cool on racks.

4.            In a large bowl, crush 1/4 of the strawberries. Slice or halve the remaining berries and add to the crushed berries. Sprinkle with sugar. Set aside to let the sugar dissolve. Before serving, stir to combine.

5.            To make the Crème Chantilly:  In a chilled bowl with an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream and vanilla with 2 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form.  Cover and chill until serving.

6.            To serve, Place one biscuit on an individual serving plate and top with big spoonfuls of the prepared Strawberries.  Cover with another biscuit, another spoonful of berries and a big dollop of chilled Crème Chantilly.  Serve immediately so the biscuit doesn’t get soggy.

Adapted from The Yankee Magazine Cookbook, 1981. Excerpted from The Best Quick Breads, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2000, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2017

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.


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