The last time I had some strawberry shortcake… wow, it was a long time ago. I was very young, maybe 10, and I was excited about learning how to cook things other than pancakes with Bisquick. Specifically using those little recipes cards they have printed on the back of the box, ya know what I’m talking about? Well, for some reason I found them so exciting. I remember making a chicken pot pie with them, as well as some strawberry shortcake. I can’t really remember what I thought of the shortcake, I’m sure I thought it was amazing since I was 10 and I had just made my own shortcake…. but now a days I know better. I know there is much more to a perfect strawberry shortcake then Bisquick and cool whip.
I just love making biscuits, scones, shortcakes. I think they’re just so much fun. Kind of like pie crust- cutting the fat into the flour mixture then adding the liquid. I know it’s strange that I enjoy this, most people hate making pie crust and biscuits simply because of what it involves, but I think the whole process is so smart and interesting. I’m a fan. I do have my preferences when it comes to method and ingredients for biscuits/shortcakes. I do NOT like eggs in my liquid mixture. I just think it takes away from the layers and the flakiness. It does create a degree of tenderness and fluffiness, but the textural difference is too noticeable to me and it doesn’t seem authentic. It bothers me. Also, as much as I enjoy using the food processor because it quickens the process, I would rather cut the fat into the flour with my fingertips. That way I can make thin, flat pieces of fat rather than tiny beads throughout. The shape of the fat really does make a difference in how flaky the biscuit turns out.
This particular recipe hails from the great Cooks Illustrated- with a few minor changes. I omitted the egg and instead added much milk/heavy cream/half & half. As I mentioned above, I just don’t like the egg texture. If you disagree, then go ahead and use the egg and drop the liquid down to 1/2 cup. It’s a really easy change to make. But, regardless of whether you decide to use and egg or not, the shortcake comes out tender and flavorful, with just enough sweetness to balance with the whole dish.
You may be wondering why the recipe asks you to crush part of the berries and leave the others sliced. It just makes for a better texture. A little less soupy. It’s still very liquidy, it’s just that now there is more pectin and substance for the strawberry slices to cling on to. It’s actually pretty smart.
- 2½ lbs. strawberries, hulled (8 cups)
- 6 Tb sugar
- For the Biscuits:
- 2 cups flour
- 5 Tb sugar, divided
- 1 Tb baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 oz unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into ½" pieces and chilled
- ⅔ - 1 cup milk, heavy cream, or half & half
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- For the Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 1 Tb sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Crush 3 cups strawberries in large bowl with potato masher. Slice remaining 5 cups berries. Stir sliced berries and sugar into crushed berries. Set aside until sugar has dissolved and berries are juicy, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- For the biscuits: Heat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, baking powder, 3 Tb sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Scatter butter pieces over top and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 pulses. Transfer mixture to large bowl.
- Stir milk (or heavy cream/half & half) into flour mixture until large clumps form. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly until dough comes together.
- Pat dough into 9" x 6" rectangle, about ¾" thick. Using floured 3" biscuit cutter, cut out 6 dough rounds without twisting cutter. Arrange biscuits on prepared sheet about 1½" apart. Brush tops with egg whites and sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 Tb sugar.
- Bake until biscuits are golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let cool about 10 minutes.
- For the whipped cream: Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes.
- To assemble, split each biscuit in half and place bottoms on individual plates. Spoon portion of berries over each bottom, dollop with whipped cream, and cap with biscuit tops. Serve immediately.
adapted from “The New Best Recipe” By Cooks Illustrated