June 01, 2012
Strawberry shortcake. Light, flakey, not too sweet shortcakes are one of the easier baked goods to pull off. Usually calling for some shortening to be used (hence the name) I’ve also seen recipes that use cream instead to bind the batter together. Neither is very healthy for you, per say, but because I am going to have heavy cream on hand for the whipped cream, I thought I’d skip the shortening.
Basically you just mix or sift together in a medium bowl:
-2 cups all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-¼ teaspoon baking soda
-2 tablespoons sugar
-¾ teaspoon salt
-1 ½ cups heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Obviously, or perhaps not, you want to sift together your dry ingredients first before mixing in the cream. Mix until the ingredients are just combined, don’t overdo it or the biscuits will end up tough. Oh by the way, if you have a favorite family biscuit recipe, feel free to just go ahead and use that one, maybe adding an extra pinch of sugar. Anyway, back to the task at hand.
Place mixture in an ungreased 8-inch square pan. Many recipes will have you cut the dough into rounds before baking, but I like this method of deing it like a cake all at once, then portioning out after it is baked.
You can sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top if you wish, but I am going to chop up about 2 tablespoons of candied ginger very fine, and sprinkle that over the top. I think the ginger will add a really nice, exotic accent to the shortcake. Bake the shortcake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. When it is ready, cut the cake into 6 pieces and split each piece in half horizontally.
While the shortcake is cooking, wash and remove the stems from a bunch of strawberries, like 1 ½ pounds (we are making 6 big servings here). Slice the strawberries and put them in a bowl. Toss with 3 tablespoons of sugar or maple syrup, and let them sit covered in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so the juices can develop.
Finally, we’ve got to make some whipped cream. I like to up the ante a little bit here as well, by infusing some lemon flavor using zest, or finely grated lemon peel. For a lemon infused whipped cream we’ll need:
-2 cups heavy whipping cream
-4 tbsp. white sugar or 3 tbsp maple syrup (which I prefer over sugar, and you may need even less sweetener depending on your taste)
-zest from 1 lemon (at least 1 teaspoon, up to 1 tablespoon or even more, again depending on your taste)
-1 tsp. real vanilla
Chill a glass or metal mixing bowl in the freezer before hand to help the whipped cream stand up. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Start whisking in the ample syrup or sugar until the cream forms stiff peaks that hold up when you pull the beaters out. You can store this whipped cream for a couple days in an airtight container, and just whip it for 10 seconds more to wake it up before serving.
Assemble these amazing little dessert masterpieces in a bowl. Lay in the bottom half of a shortcake, spoon over plenty of strawberries and juice, then add a big dollop of the lemon whipped cream. Gently lay on the candied ginger crusted top half of the shortcake on top and viola! Sometimes I like to add even another layer on top of that just to go completely overboard, so I add a few strawberries, a small dollop of whipped cream in the center, and then garnish with a fresh mint leaf or two. Beautiful!
To me, this is one of the ultimate desserts, and perfectly captures the spirit of the season. Of course, berries and cream are very good all on their own, so feel free to simplify this recipe as much as you wish. Or, see if you can top even my ridiculous embellishments!
We are actually running out of time for this week. I know I mentioned another strawberry-centric recipe, and I was thinking about a strawberry and spinach salad, but we will have to save that for another day.
I’d love to hear what you’ve been cooking up these days. Send me any questions, comments, or suggestions to Isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.