Strawberry season has arrived in Kentucky and it is glorious! I scoured the internet searching for a strawberry farm where we could go pick some fresh strawberries and found the perfect little family farm that produced delicious berries and let us fill our bellies and our buckets. Picking fresh berries is one of our favorite summertime activities because we get to be outside, taste the sweetness of fresh berries and get to dream about all the yummy things we will make with our extra buckets of berries.
Strawberry Shortcake: Cake or Biscuit?
One of the desserts that I love to make that really highlights the natural sweetness and flavor of fresh strawberries is strawberry shortcake. Strawberry shortcake is one of those desserts that people often have their own image of in their mind. Is strawberry shortcake more “cakey” or is it more of a “biscuit?” I love it both ways, but today’s recipe is going to focus on the more “biscuit” version. The biscuit version of strawberry shortcake is tender, flaky like pie crust and oh-so-rich. It makes a beautiful backdrop for the star of the show: the strawberry!
Do you like your strawberries with added sugar?
Freshly picked strawberries are diced small and then let to rest in the fridge with a little added sugar. How much extra sugar you add is completely up to you! I prefer to let the strawberry really shine and don’t like an overly sweet strawberry shortcake, so I tend to add only a teaspoon or so of sugar. Some people like very sweet, macerated strawberries and will add ¼ cup of sugar to their 1 cup of strawberries. Wherever you fall on the sugar scale, this recipe is so adaptable and delicious either way.
A biscuit-like dough is formed using cold butter that is grated into the flour mixture. You can also clump the butter in with your fingers or a pastry cutter, but grating is my favorite way to get perfect-sized pieces of butter in your dough. Heavy cream is then added to the dry mixture and formed into a ball with a small knead and then shaped into a square. I use a bench knife to cut my biscuits in one quick stroke. You could also use a biscuit cutter. I wouldn’t use a cup because when you twist the cup on the biscuit dough it actually seals off the dough and doesn’t leave enough room for your biscuit to rise (I’ve done a side-by-side comparison, and the difference is very noticeable).
The dough is then brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar on top and then baked at a high temperature for a short time to really activate the baking powder and get the best rise out of the shortcakes. I reduce the temperature part way through baking for an even bake and no burned bottoms. Once the biscuits are cooled, they are topped with luscious freshly whipped cream and of course, those freshly picked strawberries.
Strawberries naturally shine in this shortcake. They are the star!
No recipe lets freshly picked strawberries shine like that of strawberry shortcake. They are late spring and early summer bottled up into perfection. I watched my ten-year-old devour this strawberry shortcake and exclaim how delicious it was and thought about how she will have those same summer memories of picking berries and eating strawberry shortcake. This cake makes me understand why the Poky Little Puppy didn’t get any strawberry shortcake. His siblings thought it was that good!
Yield: 4-6 strawberry shortcakes
Time: 40 minutes total, 15 minute mix, 15 minute bake, 10 minute preparation
- 2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour
- 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided (2 Tablespoons in the shortcake and 2 Tablespoons to sprinkle on top after baking)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (6 Tablespoons cold butter and 2 Tablespoons melted)
- ⅔ cup heavy cream, plus 1-2 Tablespoons as needed
- 1 pint of fresh strawberries, quartered and/or diced
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon-¼ cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
- Wash and cut the tops off of a pint of fresh strawberries. Cut the strawberries into small pieces. I like them roughly diced. Add 1 teaspoon to ¼ cup of sugar, depending on how sweet you like your strawberries in the shortcake. Let sit in the fridge for an hour or two for the sugar to combine with the berries before serving. You can also press about 25% of the berries against the side of the bowl to help release some juices.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Use a fork to combine.
- Grate 6 Tablespoons of cold butter on top of the flour mixture. You can use your fingers to crumble in the butter, or use a pastry cutter.
- Add the heavy cream and gently mix to combine. Add more cream a Tablespoon at a time if the dough is too crumbly. Form into a ball.
- On a floured surface, set the ball on the countertop and gently knead 2-3 times. Pat the dough into a square shape, about 1-1 ½ inches thick.
- Using a bench knife or large knife, cut the dough into 4 squares or 6 rectangles (depending on how many shortcakes you want).
- Spread them apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with 1 Tablespoon melted butter and top with 1 Tablespoon sugar.
- Bake for 5 minutes at 450 degrees. Quickly pull them out of the oven and lightly brush the remaining 1 Tablespoon of melted butter over the top of the shortcakes and sprinkle the remaining 1 Tablespoon sugar on top. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place the shortcakes back in the oven and bake for 10-12 more minutes. Allow shortcakes to cool completely.
- While shortcakes are cooling, whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with a handheld or stand mixer. Sweeten according to your taste (I like about 1 teaspoon of sugar…not very sweet. For a sweeter cream use 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar). This whipped cream can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a few hours.
- To assemble the shortcakes: Cut the shortcake in half like you would an english muffin. Place 2 Tablespoons of whipped cream on the bottom half of the shortcake. Top with a Tablespoon of strawberries. Place the top half of the shortcake on top of the strawberries. Add a little extra bit of cream and berries on top of the shortcake for decoration. Enjoy!
Watch me make the Strawberry Shortcake below:
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