If you’ve ever wondered if strawberries picked fresh from the field surpass the often good looking berries we see in the stores, this is Full Fork Ahead’s personal testimony to field-fresh berries being the superior pick.
Our mother was kind enough to bring me a mountain of the things back in the middle of spring and man were they gorgeous. Bright red, large and small and incredibly juicy. And sweet! I’d pretty much given up on grocery store offerings. They’ve been so bland this year! I bite into a store-bought berry and I’m usually tasting nothing. If they’re juicy, they just taste like I’m eating water. And for the most part the grocery store berries have been…mealy. If you’re like me, the mere thought of any kind of mealy-textured fruit makes your lip curl. There’s nothing more frustrating than carefully picking out fruit only to bring it home and sink your teeth into mushy nastiness.
But these farm-fresh berries were perfection personified. And there’s only one thing I wanted to make when I saw them. I’m normally a convenience cook. I always made the shortcake part from Bisquick. And I still like the Bisquick results, but these little babies sis and I made were worlds above in taste, light, fluffy texture and some added zing from the lemon zest. They were the perfect bed for the berries.
It’s not hard to understand why red is my favorite color after looking at these beauts.
From The Secret Life Of Berries: they’re sugar addicts. I tend to enable.
Butter makes the world go round, and therefore your shortcake.
I don’t know where the pea-sized granules have gotten too, but this will do.
And in goes the buttermilk. Or, *chug* says the flour.
The texture of this stuff is very wet. You could probably flour it more than I did if it sticks too much to your hands, but don’t go overboard or you might get tough shortcake. The kind that comes home with a tattoo.
The recipe I used showed perfectly smooth-topped shortcake. I like mine, which turned out a little more wild and woolly.
If you feel tempted to just, I dunno, make off with the whip cream and a big spatula to scoop it up with and into your mouth, I won’t tell.
Of course, my daughter had to lend a hand, which amounted to being the entertainment and eating the work. I’m in awe still of the pic my sis took of her posing with the berries. Happens to be our mother’s favorite as well.
The recipe turned out so much better than we’d expected and it wasn’t nearly as hard to make the shortcake from scratch as I thought it would be. Highly recommended for a warm spring or summer day when you want something light and refreshing.
Fresh Strawberry Shortcake
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 6
From Classic Strawberry Shortcakes by Williams-Sonoma
For the shortcakes:
- 1 2⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 3⁄4 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into
- 3⁄4 cup buttermilk
- 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the strawberries:
- 4 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into slices
1/4 inch thick
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
For the whipped cream:
- 3/4 cup heavy cream, well chilled
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt until well blended. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the pieces are no larger than peas. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and gently toss with a fork or rubber spatula until the flour is just moistened and the ingredients are blended.
Turn the shaggy dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a thick rectangle about 6 by 4 inches. Using a large sharp knife, trim the edges even, then cut the dough into 6 equal squares.
Place the squares on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Bake until they are puffed and golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly or completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries: In a bowl, toss together the strawberries and sugar with a fork, lightly crushing some of the berries. Cover the berries and refrigerate until well chilled or until ready to serve.
To make the whipped cream, in a deep bowl, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form and the cream is billowy, about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve or for up to 2 hours.
To serve, split the warm or cooled shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom halves, cut side up, on serving plates. Spoon some of the strawberries, including the juices, over each half and top with a dollop of the whipped cream. Top with the remaining shortcake halves, cut side down. Serve immediately.
When recipes call for cold ingredients, they mean it. Keep any wet ingredients like the buttermilk in fridge as long as possible. For ingredients like butter or shortening I’ve found it’s best to cut it up into small pieces and then stick it in the freezer for at least thirty minutes prior to incorporating into the dry ingredients. The colder it is the easier it will be to get that elusive pea-sized texture they talk about. I’ve found the texture I usually achieve looks like small rocky and sandy granules than anything else.
Though the recipe suggests serving immediately, you can make all the steps above ahead of time, say, in the morning if you plan to serve guests that afternoon, storing the berries and whipped cream each in their own containers in the refrigerator, the uncut shortcakes in an airtight container on your counter. I would not suggest making the shortcakes a day or more ahead, as that light texture probably won’t maintain itself that long.
And just a quick disclaimer on those cook/prep times above – I never take the amount of time it says on those. Usually more! So take the with a grain of salt, I say. I included hulling and sugaring the berries as prep time, and actually putting the shortcake ingredients together as part of their cook time. I dunno, is that logical? We’ll just say yes.