Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Memories of Strawberry Shortcake
After a nice run of beautiful weather, it's raining today. Days like this pull me in to the kitchen, with ideas of baking something sweet and summery to chase those clouds away. Within a few weeks it will be strawberry season here in upstate New York. Memories of strawberry picking at the Hand Melon Farm in nearby Greenwich, New York (pronounced Green-wich unlike our Connecticut neighbor) are priming my taste buds for the strawberry shortcake we used to make for Greenfield Elementary School's Spring Fair. My sister-in-law Carolyn and I would take our kids with various and assorted vessels and park them between rows and rows of gorgeous ripe berry plants. About as many went into their stomachs as their pots, so we got the better of that deal! Once we were home, we'd make a real project out of it. Carolyn (a GREAT cook, by the way) cleaned and hulled the strawberries and I baked the biscuits. Our shortcake used to be created in industrial quantities, but here's a fast and simple recipe to satisfy the crowd around your dinner table:
1 quart of strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp. to 1/4 c. granulated sugar, to taste (I like more!)
2 tbsp. orange juice
Allow the above ingredients to macerate (fancy word for sit and get juicy) at room temperature. Stir a few times while the biscuits are baking.
3 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. very cold butter, diced
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. half and half plus extra for brushing
Combine dry ingredients. Cut in cold butter until it's crumbly (smaller than pea-sized). Stir in half and half. On floured surface -- I use wax paper for easy clean-up -- pat into a 1" thick square. Work in more flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Cut large square into 9 smaller squares (3x3). Place squares on parchment paper (or greased surface) on cookie sheet. Brush surfaces with half-and half. Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on rack.
1 pt. heavy or whipping cream
2 tbsp. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place ingredients in chilled bowl and beat until soft to medium-soft peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat. Chill until ready to use.
Split square biscuit. Layer bottom biscuit, berries and juice, whipped cream, top biscuit, berries and juice, and whipped cream.
Tomorrow's blog: Favorite Utensils ~ My New Kitchen's Must-Haves!