When I went home to central California for a visit a couple of weeks ago, I was delighted to see the farm stands were already offering strawberries. I bought a box of them — six baskets for $6 — and ate a bowl of them daily for about a week once I returned to Tahoe. Still, I had about three baskets that needed to be baked into something to keep them from going bad. Good strawberries can’t be left to waste. I settled on strawberry shortcake, something I don’t make often but enjoy quite a bit when it turns out just right.
I have never been crazy about those packaged shortcakes sold near the strawberries at the grocery store — the spongy ones that have a sort of dip at the top for the strawberries to sit in. I hadn’t made my own biscuits in a long time, so I turned to “The Joy of Cooking” to see what it suggested. It had a couple of options, but I settled on cream biscuits this time around. They were, by far, the best ones I had ever made for strawberry shortcake. I am not big on rolling out dough; I prefer to shape it with my hands when I can. I divided the dough into eight pieces and formed them into rounds on a baking sheet. You may also roll out the dough and divide it into more pieces if you’d like.
The biscuits were easy and the flavor and texture were just how I hoped they would be.
Topped with the macerated strawberries (I added some of Penzeys Vanilla Sugar to the mixture for a bit of extra flavor) and whipped cream, this was the dessert I was craving. I was thrilled. Summer will be here soon enough.
4 cups strawberries
One-quarter cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (use 2 if at high altitude)
One-half to two-thirds teaspoon salt (use one teaspoon if at high altitude)
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
Rinse and quarter the strawberries. Using a potato masher or other tool, partially crush the strawberries. Put them in a bowl with the sugar. Set in fridge.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream.
Mix with a rubber spatula, wooden spoon or fork until most of the dry ingredients are moistened. Knead until smooth. Divide the dough into eight parts. Shape into 3-inch rounds that are about three-quarters of an inch thick. Place on a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes.
Whip the 1 1/4 cups of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form.
To assemble, cut the biscuits in half so there’s a top and a bottom. Spoon generous spoonfuls of the strawberry mixture onto the bottom half of the biscuit. Top with a large dollop of whipped cream. Top with the other half-biscuit.
Trisha Leonard is the editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Check out her food blog at www.redpenrecipes.wordpress.com.