What’s new in the New Year? Not too much really. Life is much as usual and as you get older that’s comforting. I just have to remember that I need to write/ type out 2009 instead of 2008! Still, it doesn’t hurt to bring in the New Year with something sweet. Strawberries are very much in season now so let’s make some Strawberry Shortcakes.
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.
Strawberry Shortcakes, as we know them today, came into being in the US some time in the 1850s. The early recipes involved layered cakes or heavy pastry. Earlier shortcakes probably came from England and resembled scones. In the early 15th century, “shorten” was a cooking term implying crumbles easily. My reading tells me that the earliest printed recipe appeared in 1847 in The Lady’s Receipt-Book. In that recipe, the shortcake was covered with icing and not whipped cream.
Do you know that they used to have Strawberry Shortcake parties in the US in the late 1800s to celebrate the arrival of summer? And that the 14th of June is National Strawberry Shortcake Day there? Did you also know that the strawberry is the only fruit with seeds on the outside, and each strawberry has about 200 seeds?
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 instead of buttermilk. Cream is supposed to result in flakier biscuits/ scones. Since these biscuits/ scones taste best fresh, they’re best made the same day you serve them. This is not difficult as they’re easy to make and don’t take too long either.