Strawberry Shortcake

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake
Traditional Strawberry Shortcake is a summer staple here in Maine. Especially in late June, when you can hit the berry farms and pick your own ripe strawberries, warmed by the sun and bursting with flavor. Head home and throw together a batch of biscuits, then top with your own whipped cream. Heaven…  Or, you can go to your local supermarket, buy pre-made biscuits, a can of whipped “cream” and some frozen strawberries. Quicker, yes, but not nearly as good. And believe it or not, homemade is really quick and definitely worth the (minimal) effort.

Step 1: Prep Your Berries (by the way, you can use any seasonal berry – blue, black or raz!)
You will need about 6-8 cups of berries for 10-12 people. If you’re using strawberries, cut them in halves or quarters (or more if they’re gigantic.) Place in a bowl and sprinkle with about 4 tablespoons of sugar. Stir and set aside while you make the biscuits, or up to an hour or two ahead. (The sugar brings out the juice and makes a nice syrup, so don’t skip this step.) (Extra berries can be refrigerated and eaten the next day, or just cut down the amount if you are feeding fewer people.)
Ina Garten, our goddess, adds a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to her strawberries. YUM!

Step 2: Whole Wheat Biscuits
2 ½ C Whole Wheat Flour (all-purpose white flour is perfectly acceptable!)
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
¼ teasp Baking Soda
2 teasp Sugar
1 teasp Salt
1 T Fresh Orange Zest
½ C Butter (1 stick), cold and cubed
1 C Buttermilk (you can use any milk, I like the tartness of buttermilk)

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
Add cold, cubed butter and mix with fingers or pastry cutter until your mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. (You can use a stand mixer or food processor, just keep an eye on it!)
Add the buttermilk and stir in until just combined.
Place on a lightly floured work surface and, using your hands, pat into a large rectangle.
Fold into thirds, like a business letter.
Make a half turn and press out into a rectangle again and repeat the folds.
Repeat one more time.
Gently roll the dough out to about 1” thick.
Cut into 3” rounds, or whatever shape you want!
Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Step 3: Whip the Cream
Start this when you’re just about ready to assemble.
Pour 1½ cups of heavy or whipping cream into the bowl of your stand mixer, or use a hand mixer or whisk. Make sure both your cream AND the bowl are nice and cold.
Start whipping on low, and slowly increase the speed.
Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and up to 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar. (I like mine only slightly sweetened, especially since you are adding sugar to the berries. If you like a really sweet cream, just add more sugar until you’re happy with it – but don’t add too much at a time, you can’t take it out!)

Step 4: Assemble the Shortcakes
(You will want to assemble the dessert just before serving, or the biscuits may get soggy.)
Slice the biscuits in half, so you have a top and a bottom.
Spoon strawberries and syrup over the bottom and plop a little whipped cream on top. Place the top half of the biscuit on, and repeat. Sprinkle a little orange zest on top for a garnish.

It’s really nice if the biscuits are still a little warm from the oven, but if you need to make them earlier in the day, that’s fine too.

Strawberries