Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake is an American classic.  Everyone (except maybe people deathly allergic to strawberries) loves it.  Heck, even people allergic to strawberries must wish they could eat it.  For most of my life, I thought that strawberry "shortcake" meant Cool-Whip and sugary, juicy strawberries covering either angel food cake, or those store-bought miniature cakes made for strawberry shortcake.  That was until I found this recipe.

I have had this recipe for years.  It was one of my first ventures into homemade desserts.  I don't remember what made me seek this out, but in doing so, I discovered that traditional strawberry shortcake actually isn't angel food cake, or Hostess cakes.  It is basically a slightly sweet biscuit.  I know it sounds crazy, but this old-fashioned version of strawberry shortcake is actually quite good.  The biscuit is buttery and flaky, and it doesn't compete with the sweetness of the star of the show--the strawberries.  Plus, they are easy to make, and you just can't beat the taste of homemade! 

Strawberry shortcake is one of my husband's favorites, but when I made this the first time, I was just sure that he would call me crazy and insist I get him strawberry shortcake that is actually cake.  Well, not only did he not do that (mainly because he's not a jerk), but he actually loved this version.  Whew!  I have made this several times since then, and amazingly enough, this humble little dessert is still one of his favorites.  Try it out and I bet it will become one of yours!
As a side note, I didn't make this a Makeover Monday recipe, but I have made it using half whole wheat white flour for this biscuits, and Splenda instead of the sugar for the strawberries.  It's still great, and I can feel a little better about eating it.  Fruit and whole grain for dessert?  I'm in!

Strawberry Shortcake
For the Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
1 stick butter, chilled
2/3 - 3/4 cup milk
For the filling:
1 quart strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream for topping, or whipped topping
Slice berries and place in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour.  Whip the cream (sweeten with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, if desired) until it holds a soft peak.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a food processor, or with pastry cutter or fingertips, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar and pulse to mix.  Cut butter into about 8 pieces and add to the mixture.  Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, but with a few pea-size chunks of butter left in the mixture.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and make a well in the center.  With a fork stir in the milk, just until dough is moist.  Do not overwork dough!  Let the dough stand for a minute.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough 2 or 3 times until is holds together and is less sticky.
Gently pat the dough into a 6x12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick and cut into 8 biscuits with a floured round cutter.  Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush on a little milk.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until risen and golden brown.  Remove to a platter and split each biscuit horizontally with a serrated knife.  Top with about 1/3 cup of strawberries.  Replace the tops and top with whipped cream and additional strawberries.
Serves 8

Recipe from about.com

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