SMiLes by Meg

Strawberry Shortcake

Happy Easter! After a wonderful day with family out in Duxbury, I’m still not quite ready to go back to school work, so blogging it is! This year’s Easter recipe evolved quite a bit from its original idea, and strangely went from more adventurous to more traditional, rather than vice versa. Every year, my mom and I think it will be a good idea to make some big and beautiful Easter dessert, and every year we all get too full on brunch to actually eat dessert, leaving full cakes untouched. This year, I wanted to be cognizant of that.

My first thought was light and fruity – people will always pick up some fruit. Second, it needed to seem like a small portion, not like a big slice of cake. Over the summer, I had taken a cooking class in which we made tiramisu in champagne flutes. That got me thinking that I could do something similar, but with strawberry shortcake.

When I presented that idea to my mom, she was on board. But then we jointly decided that it might be fun to do strawberry shortcake in a trifle bowl, with pretty layers and display options.

However, when I looked up the recipe and started making the dough, it occurred to me that leaving shortcake layered with syruppy strawberries overnight was just going to ruin the shortcake. The pieces needed to stay separate, unlike a normal trifle (which explains why all of the “strawberry shortcake” trifles on Pinterest used yellow cake rather than shortcake). With this realization, it only took Erik’s pointing out that people could treat the dessert buffet style to decide trifle wasn’t the way to go.

So, in the end, I just made regular strawberry shortcake. No fancy presentation – just a do-it-yourself dessert. And by the end of brunch, it was all gone! Never has a Easter dessert been so completely polished off. I consider this a win.

First up, make the strawberry mixture. Hull and slice (halves or quarters) all of the strawberries. Scoop out about a quarter of them and mash with a fork. Pour back into the cut strawberries and mix together with 1/2 cup of sugar. Cover and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut in 3/4 cup of butter with a pastry blender. Or any other kitchen utensil you can repurpose as a pastry blender – my habit of stealing kitchen items from my mom’s kitchen came back to bite me today when I realized I had taken her pastry blender into Cambridge. I repurposed a weirdly shaped whisk. Pour 1 1/4 cups of cream into the mixture and stir together until dough begins to come together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough really comes together. It will start crumbly – don’t worry, if you work with it, it will be fine. Roll the dough out about 1/2 inch thick. Cut an even number of two inch circles (or daisies) with a cookie cutter. Place half on a cookie sheet. Melt the remaining butter. Brush the tops of the cutouts with butter, and place the remaining half of the circles on top. You’ll have little sandwiches of shortbread dough. Bake at 450°F for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and pull apart halves, leaving on wire rack to cool. When you’re ready to serve, make the whipped cream. Take the remaining heavy cream and beat on high speed of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until thickens. Add the vanilla extract and beat until thick. Then, let people do their thing! Set up the biscuits, strawberries, and whipped cream, and go to town. I was able to make the biscuits and strawberries the night before, but the whipped cream should really be made immediately before serving (as per my mother’s insistence). Hopefully you’re as lucky as I am and don’t have to deal with leftovers.

Enjoy! 

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cup butter, softened, divided
  • 3 cups whipping cream, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Hull and slice strawberries into halves or quarters. Remove about a quarter of the strawberries and smash with a fork. Mix together cut strawberries, mashed strawberries, and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Cover and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Cut in 3/4 cup butter with a pastry blender.
  4. Stir in 1 1/4 cups cream.
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until comes together.
  6. Roll dough out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut an even number of 2 inch circles.
  7. Place half of the circles on a baking sheet. Melt the remaining butter and brush each circle with butter. Place the remaining half on top of the first half of circles.
  8. Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and pull apart halves. Cool on wire rack.
  9. When ready to serve, make whipped cream by beating remaining heavy cream on high speed of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until thick. Beat in vanilla extract.
  10. Serve by making a sandwich of strawberries and cream between biscuits.

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