Summertime Strawberry Shortcake

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Jennifer Pallian
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It's Summer! It's Summer! And I'm still here! Except now my brain is in a beachy-happy-place instead of in a library cubicle, my nose deeply planted in an Agatha Christie mystery instead of in a Nutrition and Disease textbook. Hooray! Although sunkissed and befreckled, I'm also a little shame-faced about my total, unexplained hiatus from the blogosphere... It is amazing how fast a week turns into two, turns into three, turns into several. Do you want the Coles Notes version? Okay, here goes:

Mid to late April: Exams! Last ones ever!! Eek! This gives me a strange happy-sad-frightened feeling.

Early May: MEXICO!! Girls getaway. All-inclusive. Endless beaches. Endless tequila. A trip we affectionately refer to as "Swine Oh-Nine". (But don't worry, *oink*, no symptoms, *oink*).

May, immediately post Swine-09: Full-time summer course + lots of visiting family = a bustling, happy house... and a very busy (but happy!) Jenn.

Beginning of June - present: Happiness, in the form of: a sister, a bouncy dog, endless sunshine, a whole lotta ice cream, buckets of Corona, a secret beach, a bicycle, a bikini (or ten), strawberries, and freedom.

strawberries

So that's where I'm at right now. At any given moment that you might be reading this, I am surely doing something that involves some lovely combination of the above. But for the sake of priorities, lets focus on the strawberries. Because summer isn't summer without bright, local berries and a pile of pillowy whipped cream - preferably in combination with a fresh, flaky biscuit. Talk about a fast-track back to the best bits of childhood summertime.

For the shortcake base, I used a basic baking soda biscuit. This recipe consistently produces the fluffiest, flakiest, most delicious biscuits in the whole wide world. My devotion to this recipe is evidenced by the worn-down, butter-smeared, flour-speckled page it lives on in my cooking lab manual. Try them - they are practically foolproof. Just keep the butter cold, don't over-work them, and get them into the pre-heated oven as quick as you can.

biscuits

Flaky Biscuits

Taken from University of British Columbia FNH 341 Food Theory Applications Manual

I use this recipe as a base, and occasionally replace some of the AP flour with whole wheat. Also, for shortcakes, I brush the biscuits with milk and sprinkle them with coarse sugar before baking.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tbsp baking powder

  • 1/3 cup butter

  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp milk

  • 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Stir dry ingredients in mixing bowl.

3. Cut fat into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal (fat pieces should not be larger than split peas). Use a pastry blender or blend in quickly with fingers.

4. Make a well in the flour mixture, then add milk all at once.

5. Stir with a fork until the dough is stiff and there are no more traces of dry flour. Cut through the centre of the dough several times (about 25-30 stirs).

6. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently (10-15 strokes).

7. Roll to 1 cm thickness with a lightly floured rolling pin.

8. Cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter (I use an overturned drinking glass) and transfer biscuits to an ungreased cookie sheet.

9. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden (check at 10 minutes).

Strawberry Shortcake

  • Flakey Biscuits (recipe above

  • 2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered

  • 1/4 cup sugar (more or less, to taste)

  • 1 cup whipping cream

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 tbsp sugar

1. Sprinkle sugar over strawberries and mash gently with a fork. Allow to macerate for at least 20 minutes, or up to a day in advance.

2. Pour cream in a medium size bowl, and whip using electric beaters or a standing mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed and add sugar and vanilla.

3. Split each biscuit in half and place open-faced in individual serving bowls. Top with a generous spoonful of strawberries, and a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.