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Strawberry Shortcake

  There was a time in my girlhood when I had quite a thing for Strawberry Shortcake.  And I don't just mean the dessert, I mean this chick.

  I much prefer the appearance of the older one, relaunching Strawberry Shortcake and all her pals was a silly thing to do.  But, that didn't stop me from buying strawberry-scented dolls, her "Berry Yummy" Cookbook, T-shirts, and even flip-flops.

  I also seem to have a thing for pink cookbooks.

  I still have some of the pink measuring spoons that came with it, ha...

  But anyway, I'm sharing this because that was one of my first cookbooks.  I remember always wanting to make those pretty, towering shortcakes on the cover.  But it's just something I never got around to.  Probably because it's a "two strawberry" recipe, and it requires fresh fruit.  Mom had enough to do feeding four hungry girls without catering to the grocery and baking needs of a messy child.  I don't blame her.

  We had surplus of strawberries leftover from the catering extravaganza, and for whatever reason, the first thing that came to mind were these strawberry shortcakes.  So I pulled out my pink book, and set to work.

  With absolutely no adult supervision.

  First step, hull and chop the strawberries.  Hulling strawberries is super simple, but if you need a visual aid, check out Ben's quirky video.

  Then you're mixing the chopped strawberries with sugar, and adding a dash of vanilla.  Stick your strawberry marinade in the fridge while you tackle the shortcakes.

  The dough comes together in a pinch with a food processor, but if you don't have one, feel free to use a pastry cutter or a couple of forks.  Think of this as a sweet biscuit dough, it's all it is!  And if you've never made biscuits...I am so sorry.  Think of these as  biscuit prep then.  That's a bonus because when I share some favorite biscuit recipes, you'll already be a pro.  You're welcome.

  Like any biscuit, don't overbake.  You want them nice and golden, but no more.  Nobody likes dry shortcake.

  The cakes cool.  Then you cut them in half, whip some cream, pull out your strawberries, and make yourself a pretty tower of rustic fruit dessert goodness.  It could get messy, and that's definitely ok.

Strawberry Shortcake
Yield: about 6-9 shortcakes, depending on your biscuit cutter and use of dough scraps
Ingredients for the strawberry mixture:
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for the shortcakes:
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (regular milk will also work, or you can make your own buttermilk)

Ingredients for the whipped cream:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

While the oven preheats, make the strawberry mixture.  Wash the strawberries in a colander.  Hull the strawberries and chop them into bite-size pieces.  Mix the strawberries with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes.

While the strawberries are in the fridge, make the shortcakes.  Measure the cold butter, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (the same effect can be made with two forks or a pastry blender, just whisk together the dry ingredients then mash in the cold butter).  With the food processor running, slowly add the buttermilk in a steady stream and pulse until the dough clumps together (just gently stir if not using a processor).

Place the dough on a lightly-floured surface.  Gently and briefly knead until it holds together, then gently pat into a 1/2 inch thick disc.  Use a biscuit cutter (mine was 2.5 inches in diameter) to cut out the shortcakes, placing on the prepared baking sheet about an inch apart.  You can use the scraps if you like (I did), just do so sparingly so you don't overwork the dough.

Bake the shortcakes for about 10-15 minutes, or until they are light brown on the outside.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

When ready to serve, make the whipped cream (or make ahead and cover and chill in the fridge).  Put the cream, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.  Be sure to keep an eye on it, and don't over-mix, or it will curdle.

To serve, cut the shortcakes in half with a serrated knife.  Put strawberries and whipped cream on the bottom half, replace the top half, and add extra berries and whipped cream on top.

Sources: adapted from Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Yummy Cookbook