Birthday cake for The Boy, who came home today. We picked the strawberries over Spring break and put them to good use!
There seems to be division, even between Southerners, what a “shortcake” is. Do you think it should be a biscuit (this recipe), a pound cake or a sponge cake?
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Makes 18 strawberry shortcakes
A. Strawberry compote
0.75 lbs (3cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and diced coarsely
1.5 tbsp sugar
0.75 tsp rose water
Put the chopped strawberries and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the juices are slightly thickened (approximately 20 minutes). I test it by dripping a drop on a very cold plate from the freezer to check the consistency. It should be the consistency of thick syrup, not runny.
Scrape the cooked strawberry mixture into a small storage container, stir in the rose water and let it cool to room temperature.
I usually make this up to 3 days ahead and keep it covered in the refrigerator.
B. Lemon buttermilk biscuits
3 tbsp granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
0.5 tsp baking soda
12 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1.5 cups cold buttermilk
Preheat the oven at 425F.
In a large mixing bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips until it is fragrant and slightly moist. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
Add in the cubed butter and rub to blend the butter into the flour. I use my fingertips to do this, but you can also use a pastry cutter or a food processor (pulse 10 times). Do not overwork the butter! It is okay to have small lumps of butter (the size of peas).
Add the buttermilk and incorporate it into the mixture with your hands in a circular motion until everything comes together in a large ball of dough. Again, do not overwork the dough, lest your biscuits turn out hard! No kneading!
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it out using your hands until it is 1/2 inch thick (I measure it with a ruler). Using a 2 inch high sided round cutter, cut the biscuits out. I find it useful to dip the cutter into flour (shake out the excess flour) before cutting. Cut straight down and up; no twisting!
Arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. The biscuits should be touching, so that the steam has nowhere to go but up. We want these biscuits to rise!
Sprinkle the biscuit tops with granulated sugar. Bake for 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet onto a cooling rack and allow the biscuits to come to room temperature.
The biscuits can be made up to 6 hours before serving. Keep uncovered at room temperature.
C. Whipped rose cream
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tbsp confectioner’s (icing) sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.75 tsp rose water
Using a kitchen stand mixer, whisk the cream until it mounds softly. Add the sugar, vanilla and rose extracts and continue whisking until the cream holds firm peaks.
The whipped cream can be made up to 3 hours in advance. Keep tightly covered in the fridge.
To assemble the strawberry shortcakes, firstly, slice off the tops of the biscuits to create an even surface. I usually reserve the tops to be dipped in any remaining whipped cream.
Spoon a small mound of strawberry compote into the middle of each biscuit.
Using a piping bag with a 1M open star tip, pipe the whipped cream around to create a “wall” around the compote.
Garnish with a slice or two of strawberry pressed gently broad side down into the compote. Serve immediately.