If you’ve had strawberry shortcake while out and about, chances are good that it wasn’t, and you weren’t impressed. More often than not, what you’re served is kinda like a little sponge cake thing with some whipped cream and strawberries. If you’re lucky, the whipped cream is fresh and so are the strawberries, but luck is rare in this regard. You’re almost certain to be outa luck with the shortcake.
Lucky for us, Gen-U-Wine strawberry shortcake is easy to make; easier, in fact, than all that faux crap. I’ve been known to say that, “In the kitchen simple is always best, but not always easy”; here’s a case where it’s both.
Traditional shortcake, done right, is far more like a biscuit than a cake. This is precisely what you want, because it has the density to stand up to strawberries, juice and whipped cream without becoming a gloppy, saturated sponge. ‘Short’, in baking term FYI, means a higher ratio of fat to flour, resulting in a tender, crumbly cake. Flour variety matters as well, and pastry flour is what you want. Its relatively low protein content, (about 8% to 10%), makes it perfect for stuff that demands a light and flaky consistency, like biscuits, tart crusts, pastries, and cakes. All purpose or bread flour is right out for this recipe; they’ll make things hard and chewy.
Good strawberries mean ripe, local berries at the prime of their season. Yes, you can make strawberry shortcake at other times, but this is when it’s meant to be made, so that’s kinda what you need to do.
Good cream means real cream; local, heavy or whipping cream, not that ultra-pasteurized, mass produced crap that you see most often. My local version comes in a glass pint, and the real cream absolutely plugs the top of the bottle – That’s cream.
Here’s how ya do it.
For the cake.
2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Cup Whole Cream (1/2 & 1/2 or Buttermilk are also fine)
1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
4 tablespoons unsalted Butter
Preheat oven to 450° F.
Butter needs to be cold for this recipe; quickly cut it into 1/4″ cubes, then place in freezer until you need it.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, a pinch of sea salt, and baking powder; blend thoroughly.
Add the butter and work it Into the flour blend by hand, until the butter is uniformly the size of small peas
Add the cream slowly to the mix, mixing constantly.
Add the honey or agave and blend thoroughly.
The dough should be sticky; you can add a little more cream or flour at this point if you need to adjust.
Grab some dough and form a cake about hockey puck size, 3/4″ thick and roughly 4″ in diameter. Place the cakes on an ungreased baking sheet with a couple of inches between each one.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
Don’t wander too far from the oven, they darken up pretty quickly.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
For the Berries.
4 Cups Strawberries
1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
Rinse, top and cut berries into quarters.
In a mixing bowl, combine berries and sweetener and blend thoroughly.
Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Whipped Cream
1 Pint real Cream
1 Tablespoon Honey or Agave Nectar
2″ Vanilla Bean, scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Combine cream, sweetener and vanilla in a non-reactive mixing bowl.
Whip cream by hand or with a stick blender.
When the cream is holding stiff peaks, stop whisking, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, slice one biscuit in half. Place a half biscuit on a desert plate, add berries to cover evenly, then a soup spoon of cream. Repeat the layering with the other biscuit half, berries, and cream.
A mint leaf is a nice garnish, and the scent blends beautifully with the other ingredients.