Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberries are a really versatile fruit–I mean how many amazing desserts come to mind when you think of strawberries? And out of all of those, I bet the first one that entered your mind was an American classic: strawberry shortcakes.

Strawberry Shortcake

And so it only seems appropriate that this be my first strawberry post (oh there are many more coming! Crepes, while delicious, don’t count as the first! ). I was excited about strawberry season and all of the desserts I could see myself making, but my wife wasn’t too thrilled about it. This was the recipe that got her on board the strawberry train. Macerated, sweet, juicy strawberries are a delightful treat unto themselves, but with a flaky, crisp shortbread scone sandwiching it and sopping up those juices, you have an unstoppable combination. Throw a little home-made whipped cream, er, crème chantilly, in there, and these are just a sensation and my absolute favorite way to enjoy strawberries. Flaky, airy, light, summery, sweet, syrupy, creamy, fruity–just a lot of great, contrasting elements. I’m more speechless and bumbling than usual–that’s how good these are! ;-)

Strawberry Seduction Logo I adapted this recipe from a version included in The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert, but more importantly, this is my first entry in Strawberry Seduction, a food event focused on strawberries. Its not too late for you to join in, so check it out!

  • 1 lb strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Shortcakes:
    • 1.66 cups flour
    • 3 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 Tbsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chopped small pieces
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Egg Wash: (this was a bad idea–burnt the bottoms!)
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 1 Tbsp cream
  • Crème Chantilly
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Hull and slice the strawberries

The first thing you should do is prepare the strawberries for battle. Rinse, hull, and make long, thin slices from top to bottom. Set these slivers aside in a bowl and toss with the 1/4 cup of sugar, coating all of the pieces somewhat. Cover this bowl and set it aside in the fridge so that the berries can macerate. That little bit of sugar will coax the berries into releasing their sweet juices and will make that bowl of strawberries at least three times more awesome (feel free to measure this).

Whip the cream

Now for another easy step to get out of the way right up front: making the Crème Chantilly. In a large bowl, simply mix the cream, sugar, and vanilla and beat it on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes or so until fluffed up in that billowy whipped cream texture we all know and love. Set this aside in a bowl or better yet, a bag (I put it into a plastic bag and cut off a corner–the poor man’s pastry bag!), and put this in the fridge to keep cool. No fancy can to spray it from, but a simple fancy taste.

Mix the dough, cutting in the butter

So these cakes are 2/3 of the way done, but we haven’t actually done the “shortcake” part yet, so now seems like a good time to get to it. Preheat the oven to 400°F and get a baking sheet out. Then, in a bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together along with the zest. Then, with a blender or a food processor, cut in the butter. The result will be a crumbly dough with pea-sized crumbs. This distributes the butter in such a way that it will allow for a delicate, flaky end result as the irregularly dispersed butter will expand irregularly throughout the batter during cooking (which is good).

Gently, just barely moisten the dough, folding gently

Now, with a rubber spatula, gently mix the buttermilk and vanilla into the flour mixture, mixing as little as necessary to moisten the mix and completely integrate everything. The dough should look a little unwieldy at this point. This is also, as Martha Stewart would call it, a good thing™.

Form a block of dough, lightly flour, and cut into six

On a lightly floured surface, glob the dough together to form a thick block of dough, roughly 6 x 4 inches, cutting this into 6 squares. I thought the W&S book used a peculiar word to describe the dough, but really, it was perfect: “shaggy.” The dough is just kind of awkward–sort of tacky, rough, and it makes you worry that you did something wrong. Just dust it with flour if its sticking to you and keep on going ahead–all will be right with the world. Another tip: the rectangle/square shape, while seemingly awkward, is to prevent you from having excess dough (which you would if you formed circular pieces) as the more you handle this dough, the tougher the end result will be, so putting all of the extra pieces back together would yield a tough biscuit. You can always round out the rectangles a little after the fact if it really bothers you.

Bake briefly, cooking and coloring the biscuits

Place each of your six biscuits-to-be on the baking pan with adequate space in between each, but just before putting these in the oven, whisk the egg wash in a bowl. Lightly brush a little bit of this over the tops of the biscuits so as to help them color nicely, taking care not to pile on too much egg wash (or it will drip and pool underneath, causing burnt bottoms). Put this in the oven for about 15 minutes, removing these and cooling on a wire rack briefly.

Assembled strawberry shortcake

I’m of the strawberry shortcakes should be served warm persuasion, so luckily, you can dive right into this dessert at this point. To put it together, simply grab a biscuit, slice it in half horizontally, pile some of the macerated strawberries on the bottom half (pour in a little juice, too), plop on some of the chantilly, and seal the deal with the top half of the biscuit. Dig in and enjoy!

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24 Responses to “Strawberry Shortcakes”

  1. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    Lovely! My favorite strawberry dessert is the classic Italian strawberries in balsamic vinegar, tossed with a tiny bit of sugar and left to macerate for a few hours. But my husband loves strawberry shortcake, so he’ll be happy to have this recipe.

  2. Nina Says:

    You have a serious sweet tooth, Mike. I love the shortcakes though!

  3. Bellini Valli Says:

    These strawberry shortcakes look delicious. It was only last year that I really discovered that Canadian shortbread was more like a cake than a biscuit…British roots I guess. It will be late May or June before I post my shortcake recipe:D In the meantime I can drool over yours:D

  4. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy Says:

    Mike, those are some hot looking shortcakes! I really like your biscuit recipe. I’ll bet that the lemon zest and buttermilk work really well. Great job!

    I’ll be submitting my entry after Easter. Right now, I’m up to my elbows in Easter pies!

  5. RecipeGirl Says:

    Most of the time I find that strawberry shortcakes are rather uninspiring. But yours look pretty delicious! I’m going to have to think up some sort of strawberry dish for your event!

  6. Peter Says:

    Oh dear…my jaw just dropped on my keyboard…feed me now!

  7. Judy Says:

    I am on a huge strawberry kick right now. I guess because they are in season right now. This is a recipe that I just have to try! My U-pick has been selling them “buy 1 Quart and get a Pint free” Plenty of strawberries to go around!

  8. Meeta Says:

    These look fantastic. I admit I have been on a strawberry kick – all in good time Mike LOL! Back to the shortcake though – I love the way you used Chantilly and cut strawberries to fill the shortcakes.

  9. Sandie (Inn Cuisine) Says:

    So glad you posted this. It reminded me of a terrific strawberry shortcake recipe I have (obviously) lost in one of my recipe card boxes. Noticed I said, “in one of?” Translated loosely, this means, “Too many recipes cards – too many boxes.”

    As for, “first thing you should do is prepare the strawberries for battle,” this is too funny. I’ll never look at rinsing and hulling berries in the same light again.

  10. Deb Says:

    Have not prepared this one yet. Still have a load of strawberries in the fridge though looking for a home! Your shortcake looks so good that this is where they might end up!

  11. a. grace Says:

    oh mike. you say you and raisins have a checkered past. well, strawberry shortcake and i are the opposite–we’re having a love affair. i’m at the point where i’ll order it if it’s on the menu, no matter how stuffed to the gills i am. yours looks luscious, nicely done!

  12. Joy Says:

    Oh yum. I envy you your strawberry season Mike. The only ones we have here are bloated and tasteless and shipped in from goodness knows where! Bring on July when I can pick my own – I’ll book mark your recipe for then.

  13. noble pig Says:

    Tis’ the season wouldn’t you say. I adore strawberries when macerated and then minted…glad Spring is here.

  14. Kevin Says:

    Strawberry shortcake is a great way to kick off strawberry season! It looks really good. I can’t wait for strawberry season to start here but it will be a few months yet as we are still buried in snow.

  15. Tartelette Says:

    Oh…just when I was telling the hubby I was craving a good strawberry shortcake! Wonderful!

  16. Pixie Says:

    This looks heavenly! :)

  17. Anali Says:

    An elegant classic that never goes out of style. Yum! : )

  18. katie Says:

    All these beautiful strawberry recipes are driving my bananas! I’m going to take my spoon to the Nutella jar pretty soon ….
    Those shortcakes look just like my mother’s: Perfect!

  19. katie Says:

    That would be driving ME bananas.
    Can’t type; too impatient to proof (plus all the letters have worn off my keyboard)

  20. Toni Says:

    Strawberry shortcake is a classic, but I love your take on it! Could you come over and make those shortbread scones for me? ;-)

  21. mike Says:

    Lydia — that’s also a great one and delightfully simple. I hope this one goes over well!

    Nina — haha, do I ever! Thanks!

    Bellini — Funny how food changes regionally like that. Thanks and I look forward to seeing yours!

    Susan — Thanks! They do make a tasty biscuit and I hope you have a happy holiday. I look forward to seeing your entry once things quiet down!

    RecipeGirl — thanks! I agree–normally its a deflated spongey cake with canned whipped cream, so its nice once in a while to dress up the simple things and jazz it up a bit. Look forward to seeing your entry!

    Peter — haha, thanks! :-)

    Judy — Thanks! I hope you like it! That’s also a great steal. Hooray for cheap local produce! ;-)

    Meeta — thanks! Can’t wait to see when you start with the strawberries. :-)

    Sandie — Sorry to hear it disappeared! I found I was getting pretty disorganized recipe-wise, too, hence this blog. Haha, glad you enjoyed the writing! Thanks :-)

    Deb — when it comes to strawberries, I’d say this is a must have, IMO! I hope you give a try, I’d love to hear the results! Thanks :-)

    a.grace — haha, yea, raisins and I are very hit or miss…go figure. Its good to have a go-to dessert like that though and shortcakes are definitely a good one to have! Thanks :-)

    Joy — doh, sorry to hear about that. I’ll miss these when the day comes when I move out of Florida…I take it for granted. Hope to hear good results this summer! Thanks

    noble — I would indeed! Maceration is definitely a beautiful thing–I could drink that juice all day.

    Kevin — thanks! I forget that its still wintery elsewhere–today was in the 70/80′s and shorts weather down here.

    Tartelette — great minds think alike! Thanks

    Pixie — thanks :-D

    Anali — agreed, thanks!

    katie — haha, no worries, thanks :-)

    Toni — haha, next time I’m in the neighborhood! Thanks :-D

  22. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from Mike's Table Says:

    [...] Strawberry Shortcakes [...]

  23. Strawberry Seduction: The Round-up! from Mike's Table Says:

    [...] started with the first thing that comes to mind when I have strawberries: Strawberry Shortcake. This was a flaky scone, split open and covered in macerated strawberries and freshly whipped creme [...]

  24. ebs Says:

    This comment is more than a year after your post but i just have to say that I love your pictures :) I just made these a while ago, and it smells heavenly! Can’t wait to try it after dinner :) Thanks for the recipe and the accompanying photos!

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