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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

It always amazes me how early things start this close to the equator. I was shocked when a friend mentioned that it was already strawberry season in these parts. Granted, it has been plenty warm for a whole month already. In fact, it kind of reminds me of a summer day back home... I can handle the mid-eighties. Too bad the bottom will fall out soon. This friend said they were thinking of going strawberry picking this week, and I was tempted, until I realized I still had plenty left from last year and that I am trying to start "drawing down" the food stores in preparation for our move this summer.

However, talk about strawberries got me to craving them. So, when I was thinking of a dessert to prepare for company last night, strawberry shortcake came to the forefront. I love this recipe for a number of reasons. First, it is super quick. I always have strawberry topping in the freezer, so all I have to do is pull out a container. If you don't keep this on hand, you can follow the instructions in that post to prepare the strawberries. I also always have whipped cream on hand. All that's left is making the shortcake.

I'm a traditionalist. While I love pouring strawberry topping on angel food cake, I would never stoop to calling that strawberry shortcake. Those little sponge cakes you buy in the produce section? Not shortcake either. True shortcake is very much like a scone. It's made in a very similar manner and tastes somewhat similar too... except maybe it's not quite so eggy as a scone. It takes less than five minutes to mix up the batter and only twenty to bake. The cake can then sit out at room temperature until you are ready to serve. So simple! And I love the flavor! The shortcake is not overly sweet, so it provides a nice contrast to the whipped cream and berries. I like to sprinkle the top of my cake with sanding sugar; I like the nice crunchy crust it gives the top of the cake.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and rub into the dough with your fingers. When the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, add the milk and egg. Stir until well combined and dump into a greased nine inch round pan (or similar). It can be a little tricky to spread out, as it is fairly stiff. It does not need to be smoothed out very much, just try and make the thickness overall mostly even. If you desire, sprinkle some sanding sugar on the top before placing in the oven.

Bake in a hot, preheated oven until it is nicely golden. You can test with a toothpick or cake tester to be sure, but usually, if it is golden all over, it should be done inside. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before carefully turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Although most folks cut their cake so that there is a top and bottom which is filled with strawberries and whipped cream, I like to serve mine as wedges. This way, each serving is freshly prepared and the cake does not getting too soggy before you are ready to serve your family or guests.

Strawberry Shortcake
Yield: 8 servings
Adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook

whipped cream for garnish

1/3 cup sugar
2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk (preferably whole)
sanding sugar (optional)

To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 450° F. Grease a nine inch round cake pan. Mix together the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Lightly beat together the milk and egg. Add to the batter and stir until well mixed. Spread out into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with sanding sugar, if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean. Let cool 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan to finish cooling. Cake can remain at room temperature, uncovered, for up to 6 hours before serving. Once the cake is covered and stored, it still tastes great, but that nice crisp top will soften. Cut into wedges and top with the strawberries and whipped cream. Serve immediately.

2 comments:

  1. Sun and strawberries? I'm ready to head your way right now. But hey, no mention of the pink stuff? ;-)
    Mom

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ha ha... I thought about the pink stuff when writing this, but I think it deserves its own post. ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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