Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Come on, make this. Your mother will be proud.

On the account of how amazingly sweet, flavorful, (and did I mention) cheap strawberries are right now, I've been eating them a lot. It's also been raining a lot here, if you haven't noticed. The sun has yet to stay out long enough to make me actually believe that it's summer. I've been stuck indoors, staring out my window, watching the fog wrap itself around the many redwood trees in my backyard; I've also, however, been in quite the cooking frenzy. So what's a girl to do when she finds herself in this kind of state, and with lots of strawberries?

Two words: Strawberry Shortcake.

Oh yah. I'm talkin' old school, "the way mom used to make it" strawberry shortcake. This recipe is fairly simple, and I think the directions for making the shortcake biscuits are easy enough to actually produce them on your own, and not end up frustrated with a lumpy, doughy mess (believe me, its happened to me before). I was so happy when I opened the oven door and saw 8 flawlessly baked, golden delicious biscuits that I almost ate them on the spot and forgot about the strawberries and whipped cream. If this happens to you, please, don't give into the temptation. The taste of shortcake, melded with the taste of perfectly sweet strawberries and a cloud of fresh whipped cream is well worth the wait. This recipe makes 8.

Ingredients for biscuits:

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend, for glaze
A note about the butter: try chilling yours in the freezer before you start the recipe. When it's that cold, it's easier to cut into cubes, and it's easier to get the consistency you need without having to blend the dough too much. Which of course, is important if you want to yield perfectly cooked and buttery biscuits.

Ingredients for strawberry filling:
  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or more depending on your preference

Ingredients for whipped cream:
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or a tad less if you like your whipped cream not as sweet
**Something else to try would be almond extract instead of vanilla extract. Just use the same amount as you would for the vanilla. I think I am going to try that next time I make this.

Directions for biscuits:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor or bowl.
  • If using a bowl, add the cubes of butter to mixture and work it with the rest of ingredients so that each piece is coated and the butter resembles small peas.
  • If using processor (which is easiest), and cubes of butter and pulse until butter resembles small peas, about 5 short pulses.
  • Add cream, blending in the bowl or pulsing in the processor until moist clumps form.
  • Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Gather dough into ball, then flatten into 8x4 inch rectangle, about 1 and 1/4-inches thick. Cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 4 equal strips, forming 8 square biscuits. Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet and chill for about 20 minutes.
  • Brush tops of biscuits with egg glaze, and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and tester comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
Directions for strawberry filling:

  • Combine strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Let macerate (which basically means hang out and get groovy) for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Directions for whipped cream:

  • Using an electric mixer, beat cream, vanilla extract and sugar until peaks form.
Assembly for strawberry shortcake:

  • Cut biscuits horizontally in half, and pile strawberries on each bottom half. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on top and cover each with top half of biscuit. Serve immediately.

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