Rich Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake
Published by Workman
Some things are pretty much perfect just the way they are, and as far as I am concerned, strawberry shortcakes are one of those things. I am all for progress and individual expression but old-fashioned desserts like this one, when made properly, can often beat the pants of any “Nouvelle” skyscraper creation. This version is fabulous—just the way you imagine a great strawberry shortcake should taste. The cream scones are not heavy, not sour, not cloying, but are definitely dessert scones, rich and sweet and satisfying. The ingredients should all be as fresh as possib!e, including the flour and butter … it makes all the difference in the world.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian
Taste and Texturebuttery, creamy, fruity, juicy, light, sweet
Type of Dishdessert
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small bits
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup whole milk (3.5%)
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream (36%)
- Additional whipping cream for brushing scones (about 1 tablespoon)
- Additional 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for sprinkling
- 2 quarts fresh ripe strawberries, hulled
- 3 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries
- 2 cups heavy cream (36%)
- 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Prepare the scones: preheat the oven to 425°. Line a small heavy baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder and salt and stir with a fork to blend. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the largest pieces are no larger than fat peas. If the butter seems to be getting too warm, pop the whole bowl into the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm it up.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, then stir in the milk and the 5 tablespoons of cream. Add this mixture all at once to the flour-butter mixture and use your fingers to incorporate the wet ingredients. The dough will be very sticky and floppy, but don’t overwork it. Once the dry ingredients are evenly moistened, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.
Gently pat the dough into a rough square about 7 inches all around and ¾ to 1 inch thick. (This is where the expression “Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake … ” came from!) Use a 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter, or an overturned glass, to cut 4 rounds from the dough, dipping the cutter or glass rim in flour before each cut. Transfer the rounds to the baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart and re-pat the scraps of dough together. Cut one or two more rounds and repeat this process if necessary. You should end up with 6 rounds.
Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved cream and sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar. Bake in the centre of the oven for 14 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are tinged with golden-brown and are crisp. Cool the scones on the baking sheet set on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before splitting and filling. (The scones are best if eaten as soon after baking as possible, but can be made several hours ahead of time and re-warmed in a moderate oven for a few minutes before assembling.)
While the scones are baking, prepare the strawberries. Cut 1 quart of the strawberries in half and set aside. Cut the remaining quart of strawberries into rough pieces and sprinkle with the 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar, stirring to coat. Let the fruit macerate for at least 20 minutes, and up to 1 hour, at room temperature. Just before serving, use a fork or an old-fashioned potato masher to lightly crush the macerating berries, leaving some chunky pieces, but creating a rough berry sauce.
Prepare the Chantilly Cream: in a large bowl, combine the 2 cups cream and 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and beat until the cream is in billowy mounds. Refrigerate until needed, up to 1 hour. (The cream can be prepared several hours ahead, but may need to be re-whipped slightly before serving.)
To assemble the shortcakes, split the scones in half horizontally and place one warm bottom on each of 6 dessert plates. Spoon some of the crushed berries over the biscuits, including the runny juices. Scoop a generous dollop of Chantilly Cream over the crushed berries and top with a handful of the reserved halved strawberries. Place a biscuit top over the whole gorgeous pile and serve at once. No one ever said it was an elegant dessert, but it is definitely one of the most satisfying.
Lemon-Poppyseed Shortcakes with Blackberries: Add 2 teaspoons tightly packed, finely grated lemon zest, and 1½ tablespoons poppyseeds to the biscuit dough just after the egg-milk mixture has been added. Substitute blackberries for the strawberries, if desired, increasing the macerating sugar to 5 tablespoons.
Cardamom Shortcakes with Strawberries and Lemon Cream: Add 1 teaspoon ground cardamom to the flour mixture before adding the butter. Omit the vanilla extract from the Chantilly Cream and substitute 2 tightly packed teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon lemon oil, optional.
2001 Regan Daley