Sunday, September 20, 2015


Is it too late in the summer to talk about strawberry shortcake? Too bad. I’ve avoided baking traditional biscuits for most of my life, my irrational fear of making pie crust extending to any recipe that involved cutting butter into other ingredients. I made drop biscuits and cream biscuits, and even made “shortcake” using Bisquick in the very early days of this blog. That was all fine, but as soon as I successfully overcame my pie fear, it was time to unlock the top level of buttery flakiness in one of my favorite desserts.

There are an overwhelming number of strawberry shortcake formulas in the world, so I stuck with the always straightforward and reliable Simply Recipes, and was not disappointed. Because I was home alone for the week, I ate one biscuit straight out of the oven and froze the rest. Each night I’d defrost one, macerate a single serving of berries, whip a single serving of cream (Did you know you can do this? Immersion blenders are magical), and enjoy my solo dessert. Thus I can’t vouch for the exact accuracy of the berry and cream quantities listed here, since I was winging it from day to day. I suspect I used more than 6 cups of berries—I like a lot of fruit on my shortcake. I even used peaches once, when the berries ran out, and that was also tasty.

I took the opportunity to try Food52’s nifty recipe for yogurt whipped cream, which is as tangily delicious as promised, but you can of course use regular whipped cream too.

3 pints (about 6 cups) strawberries
½ cup sugar, or to taste
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Yogurt whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
½ cup plain yogurt, Greek or otherwise, full-fat or otherwise, chilled
A few pinches of sugar (optional)
  1. Cut the stems away from the strawberries and discard. Cut the strawberries in half, and then in either quarters or thick slices. Put the cut strawberries into a large bowl and sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar. Taste, and add up to another ¼ cup sugar depending on how sweet your strawberries are and how sweet you want them. Gently stir until coated and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, until the berries soften and begin to release their juices.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the biscuits, vigorously whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, either using your fingers, a pastry cutter, a fork, or a food processor, until the largest pieces of butter are pea-sized.
  3. Mix the vanilla and cream together. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the cream into it. Mix with a fork until the mixture is just combined. It should look rather shaggy and feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand a few times to form a loose ball of dough.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and form it into an 8-inch square, about ¾ inch to 1 inch thick. Place it on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Mash about half of the berries in the bowl and stir to mix. Let sit while you bake the biscuits.
  6. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the biscuit dough from refrigerator, cut into 9 even squares, and spread them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake until medium golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk (or using a hand mixer or immersion blender, or by hand), beat heavy cream and yogurt (with a little sugar if desired) on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. To serve, slice each biscuit in half horizontally and place cut side up in a wide, shallow bowl. Ladle strawberries over each biscuit and add a dollop of whipped cream.
Serves: 9
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Leftover potential: OK. Biscuits are best freshly baked, but they can be frozen and defrosted in the microwave; the texture will suffer a bit, but the flavor is still good and macerated strawberries hide a multitude of sins. (You might also try freezing the unbaked dough squares and baking them in small quantities as needed.) If eating them singly, use about 1/3 to ½ cup macerated with ½ to 1 tablespoon sugar per biscuit. If you have an immersion blender, it’s easy to make whipped cream in small quantities; per serving, I use a few tablespoons of cream whipped with a heaping tablespoon of yogurt.

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