Strawberries are here! The ever-bearing strawberry plants in my garden have been winking at me for a couple weeks now. I hold my breath. There’s always that sneaky late frost. It takes the early ones, but some are forming up. This variety is small but each a juicy flavor burst. Thankfully the berries in the store from Florida and California are also great this year, so it’s Strawberry Shortcake coming up.
Short cakes can really vary. Even though born and raised in the north, we always had the southern traditional sweet and leavened split-biscuit shortcake. Gil Marks has gathered the whole story in strawberry shortcake history.
The true shortcake is neither bread, nor cake, nor pastry, …bearing… a ‘differing likeness’ to each. It is a modernized form of the pandowdies of our grandmothers.From the May 1894 issue of The New England Kitchen
Don’t miss reading the whole who, when, where, and why the U.S. has two very different short cake types – sweetened buttery biscuit and sponge cake.
You’ll definitely want a great recipe like Red, White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake with Honey Cream… check it out here!
Tips and hacks include:
- For juicy strawberries, slice and then “macerate” by sprinkling lightly with sugar and tossing. Allow to stand 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- “Work” the dough only enough to bring it together with 8-10 “kneads”
- For max flakiness, use frozen or chilled butter, cold milk and even cold flour (40° F. ingredients)
- See the cutting in process; if using frozen butter, use a large hole grater and grate the frozen butter into dry ingredients
- Shortbreads are most tender using a soft wheat flour or self-rising flour. Chef Donley, Renwood Mills, explains. In a pinch, some bakers whisk 1 ½ cups all-purpose and ½ cup cake flour together to equal 2 cups if they have only a hard wheat all-purpose flour available.
- Using buttermilk for milk: For 2 cups flour use ¾ cup buttermilk and replace 1 Tablespoon baking powder with 2 teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon baking soda OR either are fine when a self-rising flour.
- “Drop” the biscuits instead of cutting them out by increasing the milk to 1 cup for 2 cups flour.
- Bake in a very hot, 425° to 450° F oven.
- Space biscuits an inch apart for more crust and close together for soft sides.
- Before baking, brush with cream and sprinkle biscuits with raw sugar for extra crunch