Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake.
Not the little sponge cake thingies you get at the grocery store.
Full on biscuit-like, not too sweet, crumbly shortcake. That’s how I like them.
Oh, and with plenty of strawberries and whipped cream.
In spite of appearances, this is not an overly sweet dessert. The shortcake is, in fact, quite un-sweet. You can always sweeten up the berries and cream if you want to.
Here’s what you need:
Flour, Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt, Crisco/Shortening, Milk, Strawberries, Heavy Whipping Cream, Vanilla (not pictured).
Grab some beautiful, ripe, luscious strawberries. I like to really load on the berries so I’m using a quart of strawberries for 2 (huge) shortcakes.
Wash, stem, and cut the berries into quarters. Add about 2 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar (also called Confectioner’s Sugar) to the berries.
Give the berries a stir and let them sit at room temperature to create lots of wonderful juice. You can do this step a couple of hours ahead for even juicier berries.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
For the shortcakes, sift 2 cups of flour with 3 teaspoons of baking powder….
1/2 teaspoon salt….
and 2 Tablespoons of sugar.
Sift these dry ingredients all together into a large mixing bowl.
Here’s the crazy part….
Take all those ingredients, put them back in the sifter, and sift them a second time into another large mixing bowl.
You can also do your sifting onto a sheet of waxed paper if you don’t want to dirty two bowls.
Now, take the dry ingredients and put them back into the sifter for a THIRD time and sift away. Yes, you read that correctly, we are sifting 3 times.
If this seems like a pain in the butt, it’s because it is. But it’s TOTALLY worth it. I used to resist sifting and have recently been converted.
Sifting is essential in baking to evenly distribute the leavening ingredients (baking powder) throughout the flour so that make your cakes, cookies, and shortcakes rise.
MULTIPLE sifting makes everything light, light, light. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t tried it myself. These were so light and flakey with lots of little layers of biscuity goodness. From now on, for biscuits and shortcakes, I’m sifting, sifting, and sifting again.
And come on, it took 2 minutes. No big deal.
To your many sifted dry ingredients, add 1/3 cup of Shortening.
Using a pastry cutter, cut the shortening into the flour until it has broken up into tiny blobs.
If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can also use 2 dinner knives in a crisscross cutting motion. That’s where they got the term, “cutting in”.
It should only take a few minutes for the shortening to break up into pieces about the size of grains of rice.
Make a well in the middle of the flour/crisco and add 3/4 cup of milk.
Stir quickly and vigorously for about 1 minute to incorporate all the flour into a stiff dough ball.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface…
and knead about 10 times until it is smooth and soft.
Put down the camera and knead with both hands.
Pat the dough out to 3/4 inches thick and choose your cutting instrument.
Depending on the size and shape you want, you can use a large round biscuit cutter, a fun heart shaped cutter, a knife and cut the dough into squares….anything you can find that is the size and shape you want. My grandma used a water glass. I wanted really big shortcakes so I’m using a cocktail shaker.
Place the cut out shortcakes on a greased baking pan. Reassemble the dough with your hands into another smooth flat circle and continue cutting out shortcakes.
Sprinkle a bit of sugar on the top of each shortcake and bake at 450 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.
The shortcakes are done when they have puffed up and are golden brown on top.
If you can time things to eat these hot out of the oven, you’ll be incredibly happy. If not, you can reheat the shortcakes in a 250 degree oven for about 4-5 minutes. Please, please don’t put them in the microwave or they will become rubbery and weird.
Any good shortcake needs some whipped cream. My husband would argue that the whole point of shortcake is as a vehicle for the whipped cream.
Homemade whipped cream is easy to make. Pour some heavy whipping cream into a bowl and turn the mixer on high.
If you’re using a hand mixer, be prepared that this will probably splatter a bit.
Whip like crazy until the cream just begins to stiffen. Then add between 1 and 3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like things) and if you want a little more flavor, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
Continue to whip on high until the cream comes together in stiff peaks.
Assemble the shortcakes by cutting the shortcakes in half. Pile on some strawberries.
Add some whipped cream and put on the shortcake lid. Then add more strawberries and more whipped cream to the top.
Don’t forget all that good juice from the strawberries! Drizzle a little – or a lot, down over the shortcakes.
Here’s the recipe. Don’t forget to sift!