Strawberry Shortcake

Chocolate University

Strawberry Shortcake

Enjoy this month’s kitchen-tested recipe – the Strawberry Shortcake!

There are many ways to prepare this delicious classic dessert. Depending on the region, the cake layers may be comprised of basic yellow cake, sponge cake, angel food cake, or the more traditional sweet biscuits, as shown here.

The crispy outer crust of these sweet biscuits holds up well to the whipped cream and the juicy, sweetened strawberries, while the soft, buttery interiors absorb just the right amount of these incredible flavors without becoming too soggy.

The old biscuit-making adage of “Cold Ingredients, Hot Oven” is very true here. You’ll want to start with very cold ingredients and not handle them too much before popping the biscuits into a very hot 500°F oven to bake.

A large food processor or a pastry cutter are the recommended tools to prepare this dough. However, don’t let that stop you if you don’t have either of them. Simply chop the cold butter into small pieces or grate it on the largest holes of a box grater before placing in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

The biscuits can be cut into 2¾” – 3” rounds using traditional biscuit cutters or an appropriately sized empty can with both ends cut off (in case the dough gets stuck inside). Be sure to dip the cutter or can rim into flour before pressing straight down into the dough. Don’t twist while cutting out the biscuits or they won’t rise appropriately.

An easier (and more rustic-looking) alternative is to shape the dough into an even rectangle and cut it into squares, as shown here. There is much less waste with this method and it limits the amount of time spent handling the dough – and warming it up – before baking.

Either way, be sure to place the biscuits close together while they bake so they can help each other rise higher while they’re in the oven.

Prep time: 20 minutes (+ time for strawberries to macerate)
Cook time: 14-15 minutes
Yields: 12 individual shortcakes

Macerated Strawberries Ingredients:

4-5 c. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 T. granulated sugar
2 T. orange liqueur or orange juice

Sweet Biscuit Ingredients:

3 c. all-purpose flour
¼ c. granulated sugar
2 T. aluminum-free baking powder
½ t. salt
1½ c. cold buttermilk, divided
¾ c. very cold unsalted butter, grated or chopped small
2 T. turbinado sugar

Whipped Cream Ingredients:

2 c. cold heavy cream
1 t. vanilla extract
1/3 c. powdered sugar

Sprigs of fresh mint, for garnish

Directions:

1. To prepare the strawberries, place the hulled strawberries top side down and slice from the tip to the base to create pointed slices, as shown. Combine the sliced strawberries, sugar, and orange liqueur or orange juice in a large glass bowl and gently toss to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to overnight, stirring once or twice while they soak.

2. Place top oven rack in the center position and preheat oven to 500°F.

3. To prepare the dough, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl or food processor container. Stir or pulse briefly to combine.

4. Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in with a pastry cutter or pulse with the food processor until the mixture is just combined and crumbly. (Or add the pre-grated or chopped frozen butter to the dry ingredients and work it into the dry ingredients with your fingers until evenly distributed).

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5. Add one and a quarter cups cold buttermilk to the mixture and pulse or stir until just combined. Do not overwork the dough. It should be a little wet, but still a bit crumbly.

6. Spread a sheet of parchment paper onto a clean work surface and sprinkle with a little flour. Dump the dough onto the prepared surface and roll into a rectangle shape approximately 3/4” thick.

7. With a sharp chef’s knife, trim the edges of the dough to make an even rectangle. Reserve the scraps to make extra biscuits, if desired.

*Use caution while cutting to avoid tearing the parchment paper. If you have a gas oven, use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper. Line the baking sheet with another layer of foil in case the one you are working on tears while cutting.

8. Use the sharp knife to cut straight down into the dough to create 12 equal-sized squares, as shown. Lightly brush the remaining buttermilk on top with a pastry brush and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.

9. Dust excess flour off the parchment paper (or aluminum foil) and transfer the sheet to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 14-15 minutes or just until the biscuits are golden brown. (Check after 10 minutes and adjust final cook time accordingly).

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10. While the biscuits are baking, prepare the whipped cream by beating all 3 ingredients in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

11. Once golden brown, remove the biscuits from the oven and cool for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

12. Once cool, assemble the shortcakes by cutting the biscuits in half and applying a generous scoop of whipped cream to the bottom half of each biscuit. Top with some of the macerated strawberries. Add the top half of the biscuit and finish off each shortcake with another dollop of whipped cream and some more strawberries. Add a small sprig of fresh mint for garnish and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Check out this other great monthly recipes.

 

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