Friday, May 27, 2011
A Recipe for Memorial Day: Strawberry Shortcake
Living south of the Mason-Dixon, it is absolute necessity to turn out fluffy, flaky biscuits with regularity. This goes exceptionally well with strawberry season. And fresh cream. So well in fact, the three components long ago inspired the fictional childhood character Strawberry Shortcake, whom I have always had an affection for. I think I was a budding food lover even back when I was playing with dolls. This chick was obviously onto something: sporting a cap reminiscent of billowing whipped cream, studded with bright red strawberries. How could I not admire such a figure? I could almost smell ripe strawberry juice on her apron.
This dish has other childhood roots. It was my mother's go-to dessert of choice (I think mainly for its simple convenience). Her version was different, using store-bought angel food cake and sometimes a tub of Coolwhip to accompany the fresh berries, but we all loved it just the same. It screamed summertime.
Here is a lovely homemade version perfect for Memorial Day weekend. If you are feeling extra patriotic, add a few ripe, local blueberries for that classic red, white and blue tribute.
Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits:
*2 cups organic white whole wheat flour
*1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
*1 teaspoon sea salt
*5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
*generous 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole plain yogurt (I prefer Seven Stars Original Plain)
Preheat oven to 425.
Blend together dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in the butter. Incorporate with your fingertips until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Make a well in the center of the bowl. Pour in the buttermilk or yogurt. Gently mix with a fork until dough forms.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Being very careful not to overwork the dough, gently knead once or twice. Roll dough into a thick 1 inch disk.
Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter. Place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Reform the dough and repeat cutting out biscuits until all dough is used.
Place on center rack of oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before assembling shortcake.
Meanwhile. . .
*1 to 1 1/2 cups high quality cream (raw if possible)
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Place cold cream in a medium mixing bowl. Mix at high speed with an electric mixer until liquid begins to thicken. Add vanilla. Continue to whip until cream is thick, being careful not to over whip into butter.
Can be made a few hours in advance, covered and refrigerated until time to serve.
Strawberries in Syrup:
*2 pints local, spray-free strawberries, sliced
*1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
*1 tablespoon raw cane sugar or honey
*splash of water
Gently toss all ingredients in a medium bowl. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Slice cooled biscuits in half. Place cut side up on a serving tray.
Spoon whipped cream onto each biscuit half, dividing evenly between each biscuit half. Top with berry mixture. Sprinkle with blueberries if you desire. Serve immediately.