Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake

There is strawberry shortcake, and then there is strawberry shortcake. The former is the kind I ate with gusto as a child growing up in America--a store-bought, round yellow cake with a depression for filling with strawberries and whipped cream generously squirted from a can.  The latter is the one I recently made using the recipe from my kitchen's holy book, Fannie Farmer's Cookbook.  Oh my!  Quelle difference!

Farmer's version calls for a dough very similar to the one used for American biscuits/British scones.  However, her shortcake recipe results in a fluffier inside and a crustier outside.  It is a classic when buttered warm from the oven, filled with sugared strawberries, and drenched with heavy cream. The Calm One and I both adored these deceptively down-home bundles of sublime elegance with their bowl-you-over scrumptiousness.

Makes about 8 cakes

  • Flour, white, 2 cups*/280 grams
  • Baking powder, 4 teaspoons
  • Salt, 1 tsp
  • Sugar, 1.5 tablespoons plus additional for sugaring to taste the strawberries
  • Butter, 5 tablespoons, cut small plus additional for putting on the finished cakes
  • Milk, 2/3 cup*/1.5 dL (full amount may not be needed)
  • Strawberries, fresh, sliced, sugared, about 1/2 cup* for each serving
  • Cream, heavy, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup* for each serving
*American measure, that is, 8 oz

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, baking powder, and flour.

Once blended, add the butter pieces.

Using your fingertips, work (usually for a few minutes) until the mixture resembles coarse sand/meal.

Add the milk slowly as you may not need it all.  The dough should just come together when cupped/pressed with your hands. Turn out on a floured surface.

Knead the dough for a minute or two until smooth. It will feel very soft.

Pat and press into an one-inch-thick circle.

Using a two-inch cookie cutter/drinking glass, cut out rounds.  Press the cutter straight down, without twisting to get that nice layered look once baked.

Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Split by gently inserting the tips of two forks, one on either side of the cake--it will easily halve.

Our strawberry harvest maintains its impressive pace as I have picked about twenty quarts in the last several weeks.

While the shortcakes are baking, wash, hull, and slice the berries. Mix with sugar to taste.

While warm, the shortcakes need to be split using two forks which ensures a rough surface which will readily absorb the butter you will now slather on both halves (same reason why English muffins should be split this way). Spoon the sugared strawberries on the bottom half, letting the berries spill onto the plate, place on the top half, and liberally pour on the heavy cream. A spoon is the perfect eating instrument as one can gently crack the thin crust and splice right through the tender shortcake while scooping up some delectable cream. They taste fine tepid and fairly good cold, but served warm, well, what can I say?  They are tremendously appealing. OK, they are to die for!

In the potager, the red currant harvest has begun.

And also the carrot and beet harvest.

The garlic has been completely harvested.

The pea harvest is also finished.  When freezing the last batch, I reserved some fresh to add to one of our staple meals, Shepherd's Pie.

In the flower garden, the honeysuckle is sporting the most fragrant blooms at the moment.

Dayo's paw is mostly mended.  However, if he is allowed to go out it is only for a few hours until there is no evidence of fragility as his paw is still tender. He prefers to take it easy, staying in our garden for the most part.

The English weather continues in La Belle France, sunshine for a minute, a sprinkle of rain the next, followed by a gust of wind, rinse and repeat.  When the sun gets swallowed up by rain clouds, Dayo jumps up on an old cupboard under the pergola. His beauty brightens up the day!

À la prochaine!


How to harvest garlic
How to make strawberry cobbler
How to make red currant jelly & stuffed jumbo strawberries