Strawberry shortcake is a curious thing. When I think of it, I see Fourth of July picnics, clambakes and gingham tablecloths. I envision pitchers of lemonade, potato salad and cole slaw; corn on the cob, hot dogs and kosher pickle spears. Strawberry shortcake is a bona fide summer meal – the kind that comes with 90 degree weather and fireworks. Of all dessert out there, it’s the one that says to me, summer is here, get your picnic blanket out and put on some Joe Cocker. I’m not sure why, but Joe Cocker makes me think of summer and lazy afternoons and tall, tumblers of lemon ice tea covered with tiny beads of moisture.
But strawberry shortcake to me doesn’t just say summer – it says a summer gathering, a party, a congregation of friends and family.
So why, if this is such a thing of summer, did I make strawberry shortcake in the middle of April and for an Easter dinner of all occasions? You’re probably also wondering what on earth I was doing making an Easter dinner to begin with, but bear with me for a moment. There’s a perfectly logical and valid explanation for all this and as usual, my life always offers a bit of a comedy of errors element. You see, over a particular IM chat, I offered to make dinner for a friend the weekend after Easter, but what he heard was “the weekend of Easter holiday”. Better yet, I became aware of this broken telephone mishap while talking to his brother who thanked me for providing his sibling with an Easter feast. By the time I put the pieces together in my head, I figured, why not. And an Easter dinner was on.
For those of you who’ve never made your own shortcake, I implore you – please do. Shortcake is incredibly easy to make, I can’t think of a single way where it might go awry for you, so if you’re a beginner this is a particularly great recipe to start on. I promise you this much – once you have a made-from-scratch strawberry shortcake, you will never go back to the semi-homemade version again. It’s just one of those perfect meals, the kind that makes you involuntarily close your eyes in bliss the second the food touches your tongue. Personally, strawberry shortcake makes me weak in the knees, the same way say, Robert Plant’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” makes me weak in the knees – a little smiley, woozy, intoxicated, dizzy.
It’s an added bonus that almost no one I know dislikes strawberry shortcake. Besides with the temperatures fluctuating from mid-forties to mid-nineties, when does winter end and summer begin? I figured at this rate I might as well make the strawberry shortcake and just maybe this would help to usher warmer weather in. It’s been wishful thinking thus far, but I’m hopeful.
Strawberry Shortcake with Mint and Whipped Cream
Bon Appétit, July 2001
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
For berries and cream
3 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled, sliced
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Blend flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1 cup cream and orange peel. Process just until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; gently knead 5 turns. Roll out dough on floured surface to 3/4-inch-thick round. Using 3-inch-diameter biscuit cutter, cut out 3 rounds. Gather dough and re-roll as needed to make 3 more 3-inch rounds. Arrange rounds on prepared sheet. Brush with 2 tablespoons cream; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake biscuits until pale golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. (Can be made 2 hours ahead.)
Make berries and cream:
Combine berries, 1/2 cup sugar, mint, and orange peel in medium bowl; gently stir to blend as not to bruise the berries too much. Let stand at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Combine chilled cream, vanilla, and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in large bowl (it is helpful if you chill the bowl beforehand). Whisk by hand or with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.
Cut biscuits horizontally in half. Place 1 biscuit bottom in each of 6 bowls. Top each with berries, then sweetened whipped cream and biscuit top.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Lisa (dinner party)
So pretty! Makes me look forward to summer…
Janice (Have Recipes-Will Cook)
Your strawberry shortcake looks delicious. I have always used angel food cake, but after seeing your shortcake, I am convinced to try it!
Laura [What I Like]
The very name conjures up playdates when I was seven years old…gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. You’ve completely inspired me to make this for my next Sunday dinner gathering! And I love the mint…I am on such a mint kick these days.
Radish! You shocked me with that first picture—I’ve been checking in about everyday, wondering how you are doing but expecting to see cabbage, and I get this lovely present. Almost too good.
I agree with you on Cocker. I fall in love with him every summer–especially during the hottest days of July and August. Maybe I can pretend with a CD and some of these shortcakes?
(By the way, Jim and I went to dinner with lovely Maggie (of P&C) and a few other bloggers, and Jim kept asking me where “The Sassy Radish” was—we’ll have to all get together very soon!) :D
Have fun at Bouley Upstairs, hope you can get some soup!
Absolutely, would love to meet you and Jim soon. Bouley Upstairs was good, but I can’t rave about it. Their chicken meatballs however are pretty spectacular.
I love strawberry shortcake. I make mine all the time when berries are in season, but (and I’m ashamed to admit it) I like those silly little store bought “shortcake” cups. Not for the taste… they are too reminiscent of Twinkies.. but because that’s what my dad made strawberry shortcake with when I was a kid. It’s a nostalgia thing.
I love strawberry shortcake — it’s a simple summer pleasure for sure. And I wouldn’t think to try and make it from scratch, but your words give me confidence to give it a try this summer. Thanks for the post!
I love your photos so much. They are perfect: the colors and clarity! Wow!
My birthday is in June and my mother had a strawberry patch which would be ripe on my birthday! so this is my birthday cake:)
anything with whipped cream is heaven in my book:)
Those look beautiful. The strawberries are just coming in here in the UK and I’m always looking for new ways to use them. YUM!
In short, yes please!
Big Boys Oven
wow!~ this is lovely indeed. so refreshing when there is the present of cut strawberries!
Man, I’d already been daydreaming about summer strawberry shortcake, but now I can’t wait. Great photos!
Wow this looks so delicious!
Feast on the Cheap
That is the cutest little shortcake i’ve ever seen! Thanks for sharing.