Winter. Overstaying it's welcome. Well...
I usually try to buy local and seasonal as much as I can. But when my local-ish (when you live out on Honeysuckle Hill, nothing's really too close, lol) Aldi's store had California strawberries on sale for 99 cents a pound, I had to act. I bought 8 pounds, thinking I'd bring them home, take the stems off, wash thoroughly and freeze them whole, to use in smoothies or pie or something. And I did do that...with about 6.5 pounds of them. The other pound and a half, I sliced as well and mashed a bit and decided that nothing would brighten up my winter doldrums like a nice strawberry shortcake for dessert.
I got the strawberries ready and put them in the fridge. I added just a scootch of sugar because A) They were already pretty sweet and B) it helps develop the juiciness you want for shortcake.
Next--the shortcake. I am an old purist sometimes when it comes to recipes for things like this. And by that I mean that when I think shortcake, I am NOT talking about those nasty little Twinkie dough things they sell in the store. I'm talking about the way my dirt-poor granny made desserts, and she usually made them from everyday things that she magically transformed into something else. In this case, it was biscuits. There were only a couple of rules. Biscuits had to be made with butter and they had to be made with buttermilk. Nothing else would do.
To turn biscuits into something magical, all it took was a little extra sugar (for shortcakes) or the addition of sugar and cinnamon (to make cinnamon biscuits). When she made shortcakes, if strawberries weren't in season, there were always peaches or blackberries or even cherries in the pantry that she'd canned from the summer. Any of those fruits make a glorious dessert, with a little whipped cream on top.
This is an easy biscuit recipe . Imagine my surprise when my dear friend Mary from South Africa sent me (upon my begging request) her recipe for scones. I was all pumped up to make what (in America) we call scones, and when I looked at the recipe I realized that this was my granny's biscuit recipe. lol It's perfect. For biscuits I make them according to this recipe, for shortcake, I add extra sugar and then sugar the tops as well.
Heat your oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine :
2.5 cups unbleached flour
3.5 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar (add 3 more for shortcake)
1.5 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter
I always mix up the dry ingredients before putting the butter in. I also cut that stick of butter into small cubes before adding it. The I use my pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture is crumble. Then stir in :
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Stir until just combined. Overworking these kinds of dough will make them tougher and less flaky. Once it's combined, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface (I use a sheet of waxed paper) and knead the dough 5 or 6 times -AND NO MORE.
Then pat it out to about 3/4 inch thick for biscuits or more like an inch thick or a little better for shortcakes. Cut with a biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet. You want the edges of the biscuits touching each other.
Bake these at 12-15 minutes for biscuits and a little longer for shortcake (because you made them a little thicker). They'll be a beautiful golden brown when done, top and bottom.
Now. When I'm feeling particularly decadent, I will make these desserts with warm biscuits that I have sliced in half, lightly buttered and then spooned the strawberries on. It goes like this: bottom of the biscuit--butter (or not) -- strawberries--a bit of whipped cream--biscuit top--more strawberries--top with whipped cream. And please please please, y'all...DO NOT SULLY THIS GORGEOUS DESSERT WITH A FAKE WHIPPED TOPPING OR COOL WHIP. Not that I think you would...but just in case. LOL
In case you wondered if all we eat around here is dessert...here's what was on the supper menu that night. Chicken and vegetable kabobs with quinoa.
Because it was a halfway nice day, we grilled the kabobs outside on the grill. It was a very healthy and very tasty meal.
Bon Apetit !