Strawberry Shortcakes : Starting 2009 On A Sweet Note!
What’s new in the New Year? Not too much really. Life is much as usual (and that’s comforting) except I now have to remember that I need to write/ type out 2009 instead of 2008! I’ll start the New Year here on a sweet note with Strawberry Shortcake. We had this for dessert on New Year’s eve.
It’s winter here too, and the weather in India ranges from freezing through very cold to pleasant depending on which part of the country one lives in. I’m lucky to be where it is pleasant and this is the time for those fruits and vegetables that are available only in the winter months. And it is time for strawberries too.
In the excitement of seeing them at the market after such a long time, I came back with too many strawberries. We ate some and I made strawberry shortcake with the rest. Strawberry shortcake is a popular summer layered dessert in the United States, made with buttermilk biscuits/ scones filled with strawberries and whipped cream. The juice in the strawberry mixture keeps the biscuits/ scones moist. There are some versions made with sponge cake instead of scones.
Since these biscuits/ scones taste best fresh, they need to be made the same day you serve them. This is not difficult as they’re easy to make and don't take too long either.
I used the recipe at Joy of Baking for reference to make these as I had never seen or eaten Strawberry Shortcakes before. That recipe uses cream stead of buttermilk. Cream is supposed to result in flakier biscuits/ scones.
For the buttermilk biscuits/ scones:
For the strawberry filling:
For the cream:
- For the Shortcake : This can be done by hand or in the processor. Put the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into the processor and pulse a couple of times. Otherwise put in a bowl and whisk together.
- Add the cold butter and process only till the butter and flour mixture takes on a appearance of largish crumbs. Otherwise, do this using your fingers to ensure the butter doesn’t melt.
- Empty the flour-butter mixture from the processor into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, vanilla, egg (or flax seed mixture). If substituting the egg with the flax seed mixture, whisk the flax seed powder and warm water and keep aside till slightly thick in consistency).
- Add to the flour butter mixture and mix till it all just comes together as a dough. Do not knead the dough very much as it will result in tough biscuits. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle about 1” thick. Cut into 3” circles.
- For a more rustic looking shortcake, lightly shape the dough (floured hands) into 8 circles, like I did.
- Place the biscuits/ scones close together, leaving very little space in between, on a greased tray and bake at 210 C for about 20 minutes till lightly brown. Let them cool slightly on a rack.
- For the filling, start by chopping the strawberries. Put about one third of the chopped strawberries in a blender to just break them down. Do not puree.
- Now put all of the strawberries, sugar, orange juice and vanilla in a bowl. Mix and refrigerate for about an hour. I stay in the fridge for too long the strawberries will become mushy.
- For the cream, whip the cream, vanilla extract and sugar using an electric hand mixer till stiff. Refrigerate till needed. It will stay in the fridge for a few hours.
- Assembling the shortcake : The biscuits/ scones can be made a few hours ahead and warmed slightly before assembling. Cut each warm biscuit/ scone into half. Place the bottom half on a plate and place some strawberry mixture, along with some syrup, on it. Top whipped cream and place the other biscuit/ scone half over it. Top this with whipped cream and top with some more of the strawberry mixture. Serve immediately.