Strawberry Shortcake

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Recipe Image
The Old Fashioned Way - courtesy of Cooks Illustrated Magazine 5/97

Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Serves: 6

Preparation time:
Cooking time:

Ingredients

Topping

3 pints strawberries, hulled; 1 pint crushed lightly with potato masher or fork, 2 pints sliced
6 tablespoons sugar

Shortcakes

2 cups all-purpose bleached flour, plus more for work surface and biscuit cutter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, frozen
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon half-and-half
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Method

1. Mix crushed and sliced berries with sugar in medium bowl; set aside while preparing biscuits (for up to 2 hours).

2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using large holes of box grater, grate butter into dry ingredients. Toss butter with flour to coat. Use a pastry cutter to finish cutting butter into flour, or scoop up coated butter with both hands, then quickly rub butter into dry ingredients with your fingertips until most of butter pieces are the size of split peas.

3. Mix beaten egg with half-and-half; pour into flour mixture. Toss with fork until large clumps form. Turn mixture onto floured work surface and lightly knead until it comes together.

4. Pat dough into a 9-by-6-inch rectangle, 3/4-inch thick. Flour a 2-3/4-inch biscuit cutter; cut 6 dough rounds I often put the dough in a floured 9" cake pan and then cut into wedges or squares - this avoids overhandling of dough. Place them 1 inch apart on small baking sheet; brush dough tops with egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar. (Dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before baking.) Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Place baking sheet on wire rack; cool cakes until warm, about 10 minutes.

5. Split each cake crosswise; spoon a portion of berries and then a dollop of whipped cream over each cake bottom. Cap with cake top; serve immediately.


Perfect Whipped Cream

Makes about 2 cups

If using pasteurized cream, safeguard against overwhipping by slightly underwhipping with the handheld mixer, then hand whipping with a whisk for a few strokes to finish. Whipping times will be longer for ultrapasteurized cream.

1 cup (1/2 pint) chilled heavy cream, preferably pasteurized or pasteurized organic
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Chill a nonreactive, deep, 1- to 1-1/2-quart bowl and the beaters for a handheld mixer in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.

2. Add cream, sugar, and vanilla to chilled bowl; beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 seconds for soft peaks or about 30 seconds for stiff peaks. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust consistency. Serve. (Cream can be transferred to a fine sieve or a strainer set over a measuring cup and refrigerated for up to 8 hours.)

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