By: Deanna Linder
I definitely consider myself a cook much more than a baker. Give me a very detailed, multi-step recipe for savory food and I will take it on with fervor. On the other hand, when I come across a “difficult” baking recipe, I run for the hills. The part I love so much about cooking is the process; tasting, seeing what’s missing, and seeing how a recipe developed along the way. With baking, I’m just too curious of a person to wait and see how it will come out. I’m so curious that my husband says that if I were a rapper, my name would be Nosey-D. (Apparently he thinks my curiosity is outright nosiness).
Every time I throw a lunch/dinner party, my menus are always planned ahead and generous. I go way over my head with the savory items, always making a variety of first courses and seconds. When it comes to the dessert, I usually plan for some great 12-step cake, but when I’m down to the wire, somehow I never end up having time for baking a baker’s cake (but am always left with the ingredients that I bought for it).
One dinner party ago, I was in the aforementioned pickle when the idea of shortcakes came to mind. All of the ingredients (major basics), I nearly always have on hand in my kitchen. With a basket of fresh strawberries, meant originally for the baker’s cake, in my fridge, this dessert was literally ready from start to finish within a half hour.
With strawberry season coming to end here in Israel, you can replace them with any fresh seasonal fruit such as forest berries, nectarines, apricots, etc.
When making the shortcake dough it is best not to overwork the dough. The less you handle the dough, the tenderer your shortcakes will be.
Ingredients for about 15 shortcakes:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar
1½ sticks (6 oz./170 grams) butter, cold and cut into small cubes
2 cups heavy cream, cold
For the filling:
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
2 cups strawberries, sliced
- Preheat oven to 425ºF (200ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the butter and using your fingers, toss to coat the cubes of butter with flour.
- Working with your fingertips, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have pea-sized pieces. (This step should be done quickly, as to not overheat the butter).
- Pour the heavy cream over the dry ingredients gently stir with a fort until a very soft dough is formed. Gently knead the dough with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated, being careful not to overwork it.
- Spoon out about a ⅓ cup of dough for each shortcake onto the baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches (7 cm.) apart. Gently pat down each one a bit, until it is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) high.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the shortcakes are puffed and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack before slicing in half.
- Prepare the shortcakes: Once shortcakes are completely cooled, use a serrated knife to cut each cake in half. Spoon whipped cream onto bottom half, top with sliced strawberries and then top with the top half of the shortcake.