Oh, the things we can do with June strawberries. We can eat them as-is. We can roast them in the oven. We can bake them into this feather-light souffle, or glaze them for this chic French tart. We can even turn them — gasp! — into Strawberry Shortcake. Speaking of which, here’s a rather unusual recipe for this ubiquitous dessert of berries, biscuits and whipped cream:
The following recipe was developed by Nancy Harmon Jenkins, and was published in The New York Times. You’ll find a link to the original recipe at the end of this post. The dessert contains ungodly amounts of cream, butter, and flour. That’s why I made it for you.
First, rinse and hull 2 pints of fresh, in-season strawberries.
Cut small berries in half, and slice the larger subjects.
Then tip a quarter of the berries into a medium bowl, and gently mash them with a fork. As you can see, my fork is shaped exactly like a potato-mashing gadget.
Now stir in the remaining berries plus 1/2 cup of sugar…
And let the berries macerate (exude their juices) for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F.
Also, butter a heavy baking sheet. The butter will give the biscuits a crisp underside.
Onto the short cakes! Drop 4 cups of flour into a large bowl.
Add 3 tablespoons sugar…
1/4 teaspoon salt…
And 5 (yes, five!) teaspoons of baking powder.
Thoroughly whisk the flour mixture to combine. (Actually, Nancy Jenkins says to SIFT all of these dry ingredients into a large bowl. I hope she can forgive my wily ways.)
To the flour mixture, add 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) of softened butter.
I know what you’re thinking.
“But Kevin, you’ve always instructed us to use COLD butter when making pastries.”
True, I always use cold, diced butter for biscuits, scones, and the like. But Nancy uses softened butter. And since this is Nancy’s recipe, we must do as Nancy tell us to do. (Well, except for that whole whisking-instead-sifting incident.)
Anyway, rub the butter and flour together until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Then add 1 1/4 cups heavy cream…
And stir, with an appropriately-colored spoon, until a soft dough develops.
Tip the shaggy mass onto a lightly-floured board or pastry cloth.
No picture of this next step because it requires 2 hands: Knead the dough for just one minute. The dough, I can tell you, will seem very dry.
Roll the dough into an extremely unattractive 1/2-inch thick circle…
And press out an even number of rounds (2 rounds per serving) with a 3-inch-diameter biscuit cutter. This recipe, according to Nancy, makes enough for 4 generous servings.
Confession: I do not own a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Consequently my rounds are 2 1/2 inches in diameter. As a result, I ended up with enough rounds for 8 modestly-sized servings. (The leftover biscuits were delicious for breakfast the next morning.)
Anyway, put half of the rounds on the prepared baking sheet, and brush them with melted butter.
Place the remaining rounds on top of the buttered rounds.
Bake until golden brown — 10-15 minutes. (I baked mine for the full 15 minutes.)
Now pull the shortcakes apart, and brush the insides with melted butter!
While the shortcakes cool, prepare the whipped cream: Pour 1 3/4 cups heavy cream plus 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract into a bowl, and beat them until they turn thick and rich — 3-5 minutes.
To assemble the dessert, place the bottom half of a biscuit on a plate…
Top with a large spoonful of berries…
Cover with the top half of the biscuit…
And add more berries.
Finish with a generous spoonful of whipped cream…
And a single slice of strawberry.
I’ll admit that Strawberry Shortcake isn’t the lightest dessert in the world. Still, it is a delicious dessert. And it sure looks purdy on a plate!
To get the printable version of this recipe, click here. Again, the recipe was written by Nancy Harmon Jenkins, and published in the New York Times.
Thanks for spending time with me today. As always, I adore your company.