No mistaking in-season berries in shortcakes

As Jan Roberts-Dominguez so unmistakably stated in her latest A Fresh Approach column, the season for Oregon strawberries is NOW!

I’ve been picking my fair share along with other early-summer produce in my garden. Most of the berries get eaten out of hand before they even make it into the house. But I enjoyed them last week with diced avocado and pine nuts in a green salad with raspberry-tarrgon vinaigrette and, yesterday, mixed into a quick rhubarb sauce over yogurt for breakfast.

Jan skipped the quintessential shortcake recipe this year, although she treated readers to a version three summers ago. Here’s another biscuit-like shortcake from a recent Los Angeles Times article.

Based on Lindsey Shere’s recipe from “Chez Panisse Desserts,” it makes six (4-inch) shortcakes. The trick is hand-shaping the dough into rough patties about 1⁄2-inch thick, according to the times. Because there’s no rolling, they’re very quick to make and take just 10 to 15 minutes to bake. For still-warm shortcakes at the end of a meal, measure the dry ingredients ahead of time, cut in the butter as guests are finishing up, stir in the cream, form the patties and slip them into the oven.

A chilled whisk makes quick work of whipping the cream by hand. But prepare the strawberry mixture before dinner and keep them cold to contrast with the warm shortcake. Figure about half a pint basket of strawberries per person.

MCT photo

Strawberry Shortcake

3 (16-ounce) pints strawberries

About 3 tablespoons superfine sugar

2 cups (8.5 ounces) flour

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter

3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream, divided

Whipped Cream (recipe follows)

Two to four hours before serving, wash and hull the berries. Roughly slice or quarter two-thirds of berries into a large bowl. Sprinkle the superfine sugar over berries and, using a wire pastry blender, smash berries so they begin to juice. Halve or slice remaining berries into bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Heat oven to 450 F. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Cut in the butter until mixture looks like cornmeal with a few larger pieces of butter in it. Use a pastry blender or two knives, if you like; or just rub mixture quickly between your fingers. Mix in 3⁄4 cup of cream, just until most of dry mixture has been moistened.

Turn out on a board and knead a few times until dough just comes together. Divide into 6 portions and lightly pat into flat rounds about 1⁄2 inch thick. Place on an unbuttered baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining 2 tablespoons cream, and bake in preheated oven until tops are lightly browned and dough is set, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack.

To serve, split the shortcakes in half. Ladle lots of strawberries on the bottom half, cover with the top half and spoon the whipped cream over.

Makes 6 servings.

WHIPPED CREAM: While shortcakes are cooling, whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream in a large bowl using a balloon whisk until thick but not stiff. Whisk in a pinch of superfine sugar and 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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