18 June 2012

A Manifesto About Strawberry Shortcake

There is only one kind of strawberry shortcake. It does not use lady fingers, it does not involve angel food cake. Cool Whip is verboten, sponge cake is all wrong. The strawberries must be local, the cream has to be freshly whipped, and the shortcake is a biscuit.

If you’re me, you have a hardcover edition of The James Beard Cookbook found at a used bookstore and bought because you had to own a copy since your mother always had one. And when your mother made strawberry shortcake, she made it James Beard’s way, which is to say, one enormous shortcake, cut into wedges at the table. Little individual ones, plated in the kitchen, are all well and good – providing that they’re made with biscuits and good berries and real whipped cream – but there is nothing more jaw-droppingly stupendous than an exuberant pile of whipped cream atop an enormous craggy biscuit with pink rivulets flowing off the macerated strawberries.

This is it. This is love. And this is how we celebrated Father's Day.



Strawberry Shortcake (adapted ever so gently from James Beard)

2 cups flour
2 ½ t. baking powder
1 t. salt
4 T. sugar
5 T. butter
¾ cup heavy cream
~2 T. softened butter

1 quart strawberries
2 T. sugar

1 ¼ cups heavy cream
2 T. powdered sugar
¼ t. vanilla extract (optional)

Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, or two knives, or your fingers. Stir in just enough heavy cream to make a smooth, soft dough, not too sticky. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead gently for about a minute. Divide it into two portions, one a little bigger than the other. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the larger piece into a circle about 9” across and ½” thick. Gently transfer the disk to a greased cookie sheet. Spread the disk with soft butter. Roll the small piece of dough into a circle about 7” across and ½” thick, and transfer it to atop the first piece. Bake at 450° F for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned and baked through. Let cool.

While the shortcake is baking, clean the strawberries and cut them in half. Sprinkle with 2 T. sugar, stir gently, and set aside.

Just before serving, whip the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla. Slip the shortcake onto a serving plate, and gently remove the top circle with a spatula. Cover the bottom with half of the strawberries and half the whipped cream. Replace the top circle, spread it with the remaining whipped cream and top with the remaining strawberries. Serve immediately.






11 comments:

readersguide said...

Yes. We made little individual ones, but yes, they were biscuits. Yum.

the queen said...

My god, the horror I felt when high school boyfriend promised strawberry shortcake and it arrived on biscuits. I thought they were freaks. No, no, stortcake comes on leftover twinkie dough shortcakes. Boyfriends was better.

alejna said...

Oh, yum. That looks fantastic.

mayberry said...

I got 2 quarts of fresh strawberries from the farmer's market on Saturday and lovingly washed and cut them all on Sunday for the family breakfast. Then I went out to buy my husband some coffee and when I came back EVERY LAST STRAWBERRY was eaten up. Thanks a lot, family!

liz said...

Yum

Jocelyn said...

From tip to toe, that's my kind of strawberry shortcake. Is it too late for me to be your girl's daddy?

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

My mother in law makes something similar, but my mother is a Cool Whip kind of person. It's great, because I can think nostalgically about both types of cooking : )

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

My mother in law makes something similar, but my mother is a Cool Whip kind of person. It's great, because I can think nostalgically about both types of cooking : )

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It looks amazing. You know how I feel about Cool Whip. Never. Ever. Ever.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It looks amazing. You know how I feel about Cool Whip. Never. Ever. Ever.

Amy said...

That is one very, very stunning strawberry shortcake. And one befitting a celebration.

I'll be making this this weekend. To celebrate local strawberries. Thank you for sharing!