20 April 2010

Strawberry shortcake

A springtime delight.  I used to be partial to strawberry shortcake made with a base of sponge cake, but now I prefer the more traditional sweet biscuit shortcake (as pictured above).  I have been making my own shortcake for a few years now, and I just love the flavor and texture it brings to the party.  Here is the shortcake recipe I use:

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

8 shortcakes

2 cups flour (12 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (2 ounces) plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ounce), plus one tablespoon melted butter for brushing
2 tablespoons shortening (2 ounces)
3/4 cup half and half
Macerated strawberries
Whipped cream

Heat oven 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening with your fingers. Mix in half-and-half until a sticky batter forms. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Turn out into a kitchen towel lined basket and cool 10 minutes before making strawberry shortcake.

This recipe is a cinch if you already know how to make biscuits from scratch.  If not, it is crucial to know what consistency the dough needs to be before baking.  3/4 cup of half and half may not be enough or it may be too much depending on a variety of factors.  So, add it slowly and keep adding it until a slightly sticky and integrated dough forms.  You do not want the dough to be sticky, nor do you want there to be crumbs.  It takes a little practice and patience, but the result is worth it.

Also, I macerate my strawberries by adding sugar to sliced strawberries and letting them sit for at least an hour to let the strawberries release some of their juices.  There are more complicated ways to do it, but I prefer this simple way.  Assemble the strawberry shortcake however you see fit, then proceed to consume in mass quantities!

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