I'm taking a break from my cruise blogging to write about one of my absolutely favorite things about summer in Minnesota: fresh strawberries. For a few weeks in late June and early July, I feast upon pounds upon pounds of sweet, ripe, richly red beauties from our local berry farm--the sickly pale imposters sold in the grocery store year-round aren't even comparable. We picked thirty pounds of strawberries last Saturday, about three-quarters of which ended up in the freezer to enjoy over the upcoming winter and at least three pounds of which ended up in my stomach over the course of the day. You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Eating epic amounts of strawberries is one of my third-rate superpowers.
In between my raw strawberry binges, I made strawberry shortcake. On the Good Eats episode that gave me my absolutely perfect biscuit recipe, Alton Brown noted that strawberry shortcake is a biscuit variation (the angel food cake version is a modern convenience adaptation). Since I am far more passionate about biscuits than angel food cake, I decided to try making a classic strawberry shortcake using my grandmother's cookbook. I adapted the recipe slightly by halving it and adding more sugar.
I like this classic strawberry shortcake better than the angel food variation, mostly because I love baking powder biscuits, but also because the sturdiness of a biscuit-like shortcake better holds up to the juiciness of the berries.
Adapted from The American Woman’s Cook Book, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer (online version available here)
Yield: four to five 3-inch shortcakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons shortening
- 3/8 cup milk
- strawberries (about 4 medium berries per shortcake), chopped, with sugar added to taste if desired
- whipped cream
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in medium bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender until mixture resembles crumbs. Add milk and mix just until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly a few times. Roll dough into a 1/2 inch thick round. Cut out shortcakes with a round cutter and place on a baking sheet so that they barely touch. Reform scrap dough and continue cutting shortcakes.
Bake for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
To serve: Split shortcakes in half. Place bottom half on a plate and top with chopped strawberries. Add top half and top with additional strawberries and whipped cream.
Variation: For Lemon Shortcake, add 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel with the milk when preparing the shortcakes. Instead of strawberries, spread bottom half of prepared shortcake with lemon curd. Add top half of shortcake and top with Lemon Whipped Cream.