Is there anything that better represents summer (to Americans) than strawberry shortcake? Now, I wasn't one of those lucky girls who had treats and sweets all summer long, but strawberry shortcake was one of the few sweet things my mom could get on board with. My dad loved it, and we used to 'make' it for him for breakfast in bed on fathers day, with storebought shortcakes, canned whipped cream, and fresh berries. I'm pretty sure it knocked our sloppy pancakes out of the park.
It's also worth noting that, despite my near-constant whining about how much better the produce is in California, British strawberries are pretty good. I refuse to say they're better than the ridiculously juicy, sweet berries that the little Asian lady sells in her stall in Napa off The Silverado Trail (for serious, go buy some if you're in the area. I'm drooling just thinking about them), but I will say they're pretty durned good. Especially the ones I bought for this shortcake– it didn't hurt that they were half off!
I made this dessert last week for the bf and our friend Magda, who is Polish. Neither of them had ever tasted strawberry shortcake, and given that they both had seconds, even after a sizable dinner of pizza and salad, I'd say it was a success! Not that I expected any less. I mean, how bad could it be? As Joey would say (2:50): Buttery biscuits: good. Whipped cream: good. Strawberries: gooooooooooooood!
As for the process, well it's pretty straightforward, in theory. Slice and macerate some berries, whip some cream, and bake up some easy peasy biscuits. Bob's yer uncle! Except, of course, when your flat is about 90 degrees, and the erstwhile cold butter goes gloopy as you're cutting it into the dry ingredients, and your oh-so-neat trick of sticking cling film to the dining table to create a kneading surface goes to pot when water comes through the underside of the film and gets in the dough, and the dough falls out of the fridge when you try to chill it and you curse the fates but also thank your lucky stars that you wrapped it (however loosely) in cling film. Phew. Anyway, once all the drama is over, the good news is that the biscuits come out loverly: fluffy and just a bit sweet and buttery and delish. And if you're not a spaz like me, then you'll probably get them to work just fine without having a coronary attack!
Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
In a large bowl, whisk:
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup (225g) butter
1 egg, beaten
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead 2 minutes. Press into 1/2" thick sheet and cut into squares. Place on baking sheet, 2" apart, and bake 20 minutes or until golden. Let cool
To assemble, clean/slice 3 cups strawberries and macerate with 3 Tbsp (or less, if your berries are really sweet) sugar. Whip up some heavy cream (I did mine in the Kitchenaid, which was amazing, but maybe too amazing, since I wandered off and let it overwhip... oops) with a drop of vanilla extract and just a sprinkle of sugar. Slice a shortcake in half lengthwise and layer on berries and whipped cream, and enjoy!