Friday, June 15, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

Did you know that June 14 {yesterday} is {was} National Strawberry Shortcake Day? It also happens to be Flag Day and the birthday of the United States Army. Happy 237th birthday! What better way to celebrate than with a strawberry shortcake?

This was the second week of the CSA share from the Dillner Family Farm, and yesterday I brought home another basket of ripe red strawberries. As soon as I unloaded three bags of yummy fruits and vegetables, I got started on the shortcake dough. I turned to Dorie Greenspan, who has yet to lead me astray. Every recipe of hers I have tried has been a delight. (I hear Stacy is having great success too - Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, anyone?)

The dough for the shortcake comes together quickly and the cakes bake up with such a tender and flaky crumb. I could probably eat six of them straight from the oven. 

While the cakes were still slightly warm, I sliced them open and piled on the macerated strawberries and finished it off with a dollop of freshly whipped, slightly sweetened cream.

This is the quintessential summer dessert in my book. It is also super easy and perfect for serving your friends and family. Perhaps your dad would like strawberry shortcake for Father's Day?

Strawberry Shortcake
Makes 5 servings

For the shortcakes:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Scant ½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cups heavy cream, chilled

For the filling:
3 cups fresh strawberries, washed and green tops removed
2 teaspoons sugar, to taste

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar, to taste

First, make the shortcakes:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, a fork or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course crumbs.

Add the ¾ cup heavy cream to the flour/butter mixture and stir with a fork just until the dough starts to come together. The dough will still look dry. Knead the dough a few times with your hands to bring it all together. Divide the dough into five equally sized pieces and place on the baking sheet 3 inches apart.

At this point, you could freeze the shortcakes on the sheet pan, and store in the freezer tightly wrapped in plastic for baking later. There is no need to defrost before baking - just add 2 to 3 minutes to the total baking time.

Bake the shortcakes in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes until the edges turn light golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.

While the shortcakes are baking, stir the strawberries with the sugar and set aside while you make the whipped cream.

Combine the 1 cup heavy cream and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously until stiff peaks form. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes.
After the shortcakes have cooled, slice each one in half. Pile a generous half cup of strawberries onto each shortcake bottom, top with whipped cream, and place the shortcake top over the cream. Serve immediately.

(Recipe adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)