Growing up in the in small-town Atlantic Canada, we didn’t get fresh berries all year round. So when the first local strawberries appeared at the grocery store, we’d buy a flat of them – and that was it until next summer. These berries were ripe to the point of bursting. Their smell was intoxicating. And of course, berries so perfect have to be used right away – a waft of warm air and they swoon into mush.
My mom would put my sister and me to work, washing, hulling and chopping. We’d make jam until every surface of the kitchen was sticky, and then we’d mash the rest with sugar for strawberry shortcake. A few heavenly bites of summer strawberry shortcake – with a 1:1:3 perfect ratio of biscuit to berries to whipped cream – was enough to carry me through the next winter.
Today, as I was mashing berries – local, but on the opposite coast, infusing some cream with mint, and baking a buttermilk pound cake for my first shortcakes of this year, I was smiling at how cherished those sweet summer berries were to me as a child and how much I was in tune with the rhythms of our food seasons, how special those family moments were in my kitchen, and how crazy it is that I’m the mom now, and that my son remembers our shortcake from last year.
If you are following me on Instagram, you might have seen that I’m one of Canada’s KitchenAid Makers – a tribe of chefs and cooks across the country making delicious things with KitchenAid. (I’m truly so honoured!) KitchenAid sent me a basket of seasonal ingredients as a sort of mystery box challenge – it included berries and herbs, and that’s how this recipe came to be.
The whipped cream would be equally delicious infused with lavender, basil, or edible rose petals (I use the kind meant for tea). You make flavoured whipped cream just like tea – heat the cream and let it steep with your herb or flower of choice.
And I would pass no judgement if you used a sponge cake, angel food cake or pound cake from the grocery store.
As a kid, we’d have to wash all the jammy pots and bowls by hand. I now have a KitchenAid dishwasher to take care of that part. (It cleans without scraping, automatically detects how dirty the dishes are and selects the right cycle, and dries even plastic bowls thoroughly – and berry feasting is more fun without the mess!)
Strawberry Shortcakes with Mint Whipped Cream
Buttermilk Pound Cake
- 2 cups 9 ounces all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter 8 ounces softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and seeds scraped out or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 lbs strawberries hulled
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Mint Whipped Cream
- 1 cup whipping cream (35% or heavy cream)
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350º. Line an 9x5" loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Combine butter and sugar in standing mixer and beat on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for about 15 seconds after each and pausing to scrape down sides of bowl before adding the next. Beat in vanilla bean seeds.
- With mixer speed on low, gradually beat in half of the flour mixture. Stop mixer, scrape down sides of bowl, then beat in milk on low speed, followed by remaining flour mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes - 1 hour, until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Place on wire rack for 10 minutes to cool in pan, then carefully invert cake directly onto rack. Peel off parchment paper and invert again so that it's right-side up.
For strawberry sauce
- While cake bakes, mash berries in a large bowl with sugar and let stand until juicy, at least 30 minutes, or refrigerated up to 3 days.
For whipped cream
- Place cream in a saucepan over medium heat until the first bubbles appear at the edges. Remove from heat and stir in mint; let stand about 30 minutes. Pour through a strainer into a freezer bag and seal the bag. Submerge the bag in an ice bath (a bowl filled with ice and then topped up with water) to cool quickly (or else transfer to refrigerator and chill 4 hours). Whip cream in stand mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, then reduce speed and whip in the sugar.
- Serve cake slices topped with the strawberry sauce and a generous dollop of whipped cream.