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If you ask me what my very favorite type of summer fruit, there is no contest. I LOVE BERRIES!! Raspberries take first place followed closely by strawberries, but I only like berries that are fresh off the vine, preferably eaten within a day or two of picking. In June and July, I become obsessed with making sweet and savory dishes using berries.
Imagine my delight when I took part in a recent hands-on class taught by Joe Yonan. This particular strawberry shortcake wasn’t something I prepared in the class, but it was made by a few students and served to all twenty of us that evening. I thought it was a genius move to make the shortcake in a large disk, then cut it into wedges to serve rather than to bake individual shortcakes. I loved the taste of the not-too-sweet dessert and knew it was going into my summer berry recipes rotation.
Two weeks later, serendipitously, I was invited to accompany my in-town grandkids for two days close to the Cascade mountains. My grandson Asher celebrated his birthday during this time! It has become my daughter’s tradition to let the birthday kid (or adult) select the menu for their birthday …so Asher and I had quite a discussion about what he wanted to eat for his birthday dinner. He settled on baked salmon, a sliced veggie platter with raw carrots, tomatoes and cucumber spears (and yes, everyone ate a huge amount of the vegetables). He also requested spaghetti with homemade red sauce and parmesan, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. My now 7-year old grandboy has a very sophisticated palate.
The best part of all is that Asher made most of his birthday “cake.” I measured out the dry ingredients at home and brought everything in a container along with whipping cream, and he destemmed all four cups of tiny fresh strawberries, then made the shortcake, patted it into a circle, painted it with butter and turbinado sugar and finally helped me hand-whisk whip cream for the top.
Wowza! It was good… really really good in fact. If you still have strawberries in your neck of the woods (or if you have strawberries later in the season) this is super easy and wonderful to take to a picnic or 4th of July celebration. We served seven eaters and refrigerated the remaining five slices of shortcake. For breakfast the next day, we put a piece of cake on a plate and heated it for 10 seconds in the microwave, then topped it with berries and cream. Asher’s crazy grandfather (Zadie Wayne) put his shortcake in a bowl with berries and cream then made a moat of milk. Not my thing, but he loves soggy stuff like that.
(from America the Great Cookbook with my changes, of course)
Ingredients – Berry Topping
- 4 cups (2 pints) of small ripe strawberries, stems removed. If your berries are larger, cut them into ½ inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
Ingredients – Shortcake Biscuit
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp table salt
- 1 ½ cups chilled whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp melted butter + 2 tsp turbinado sugar
Ingredients – To serve:
- 1 Tbsp soft butter to brush on the biscuit while it is still warm)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream, hand whipped to soft peaks
For the berries: in a bowl, toss the cut berries with the sugar and mash them slightly with a fork (if they are tiny and soft) or a potato masher. Set aside for 45 minutes and stir occasionally while you are making the shortcake
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Mix together the flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the cream and mix with your hands until the dough holds together slightly. Knead a few times (don’t overdo or the dough will be tough) then pat the dough into an 8 inch by a ½ inch tall circle on a parchment lined cookie sheet. The dough is quite soft and felt like bread dough. Brush with one tablespoon melted butter and sprinkle with two teaspoons of turbinado sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 325 and continue baking another 10 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and brush the shortcake with one tablespoon of melted butter while it is still warm. It can stay on the counter for an hour or so.
To serve, cut the shortcake into wedges, top each piece with about ½ cup of berries and their juice, and top with a dollop of whipping cream. Eat and repeat.
PS: I am actually going to try this with diced peaches (aka peach shortcake) too … just because.