Friday, April 16, 2010

The Strawberry Shortcake tradition lives.

Growing up, once every spring my sisters and I would be called to dinner to find heaping plates of strawberry shortcake being served... and it was DINNER. Not a snack, not dessert, but a whole heaping plate of strawberry shortcake as the entree of the night. It was the best night of the year!

Now, Sam and I keep the tradition alive in our own house. I brought the tradition back shortly after college, first with Sam and our friend Will, when years ago we each ate a strawberry shortcake the size of dinner plates until we were so full we all laid on the apartment floor moaning. Now, we serve the sweet treat dinner once a year to our faithful dinner club. Of course, Casey is deathly allergic to strawberries, so she usually gets blackberry shortcake.

I won't lie, shortcake for dinner is not for the faint of heart (or rather faint of stomach), but only for the hearty who can handle a large quantity of sweet, fatty, tastiness the size of a doubled patty hamburger, but without any meat and potatoes as a starting act. In my earlier years I used the great Bisquick boxed shortbread mix, but these days I have found an even better from scratch alternative. This recipe is sweet but not cloying, and the citrus really perks up the berries. For six dinner portions, I doubled the recipe and formed teh dough into six large, handformed biscuits. They took about 30 minuts to bake, and they were so big nobody could finish. But of course the gluttenous excess is part of the charm of this dinner, so don't decrease the biscuit size too much!

I also douse my strawberries with some Grand Marnier for extra citrus flavor. A little liquor really emboldens the flavor of the berries and makes the juicy and sweet. And of course the whipped cream must be only lightly sugared, adn always, ALWAYS the real deal. No canned or tubbed whipped cream will do.

Since strawberry season is in full force, with berries on special at every market for only a few bucks per clam shell, I highly recommend you surprise your families with your own shortcake dinner this evening. I promise it will become a tradtion you want to carry forth.

Lemon Shortcake - for Strawberry Shortcakes
Epicurious | August 2006

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into chunks
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cream, plus more for brushing
  • Finely grated zest from one lemon
  • Finely grated zest from one orange

In large bowl, sift together all-purpose and cake flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use pastry cutter or fork to blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk and cream, then whisk in lemon zest. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture, stirring with fork just until dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead gently just until dough holds together, about 10 turns. Place dough on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

On floured work surface, pat out dough to 1/2-inch-thick round. Using 3-inch cutter, cut out biscuits. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet, brush lightly with cream, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool.

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