My husband Bill came back from the shore yesterday with the biggest, reddest, juiciest quart of strawberries I had ever seen. I could smell them from 5 feet away – no mistaking that grown in the Jersey sunshine smell. He had apparently been unable to avoid a roadside farm stand on the long drive home. Lucky us!
I immediately set about looking up recipes for fruit crumbles, crisps and fools. I found instead a bunch of recipes for strawberry shortcakes. I didn’t want the cake kind, but a true shortcake which is more biscuit than cake. I messed with the recipes just enough and added some lemon juice and zest and fresh mint from my front porch herb pots.
After baking and assembling my job was still not finished. I have to taste all of these recipes to make sure they are blog worthy. This was really the perfect way to celebrate the first strawberries of the season. No mistaking the berry flavor here – so unlike the grocery store strawberries. And the shortcakes were buttery and dense, perfect to stand up to all the juice from the berries. The fresh whipped cream and torn mint added just the right balance to the sweet fruit.
This recipe makes 6 individual shortcakes.
For the Shortcakes:
2 cups ap flour
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
4 tbs cold unsalted butter cubed
1/3 cups heavy cream, plus a bit more for brushing the cakes before baking
1/3 cup water
1 large egg
turbinado sugar for dusting the cakes before baking
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with a silpat baking mat or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl whisk the flour, 2 tbs sugar, baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt. Add the cold cubed butter and, using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mix until you are left with a cornmeal consistency with pea sized lumps of butter.
In a small bowl whisk 1/3 cup of heavy cream, the egg and 1/3 cup water. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to form a thick batter.
Drop in 6 even sized mounds about 2 inches apart on your lined baking sheet. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle each with turbinado sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
Macerate the Berries:
16 oz container of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (about 3 cups)
3 tbs sugar
zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the berries to give up their juices or macerate.
Fresh Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Whip with a hand held mixer on high speed to form soft peaks, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Build the Strawberry Shortcakes:
Slice the shortcakes in half. Place the bottom on a plate or shallow bowl. Top with berries and juices, then the whipped cream, then some fresh mint. Top with the other half of the shortcake, or serve open faced.
Eat the Strawberry Shortcakes!