Sunday, August 23, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake Nostalgia

I knew I couldn't write this post until I had the Indian Pudding in the oven. So it's in the oven, and judging from Alicia's post, we're really going to love it (or at least the hard sauce :-)). Remember the Dripithy that Granny used to make? Yum--I'm very excited about that.
But yesterday we were having people over to grill out, and Indian Pudding just doesn't go with the old backyard BBQ, I thought. So I "cheated" and went to the next recipe: Strawberry Shortcake! How American is that? And this is the "real" shortcake with the biscuits, not the spongecake.
This was one of my favorite desserts when I was a kid. Mom would make it with Bisquick drop biscuits, which she would split and butter (actually margarine--shudder), and then layer on the sliced, sugared strawberries and the whipped cream (sometimes Cool Whip--shudder). And we snarfed it down--it was especially good with those farm-fresh Modesto strawberries. Even the Cool Whip couldn't ruin those delicious strawberries!
So I was feeling good about making Maida's strawberry shortcake, which I'd never made. Her deal is that you make two big separate biscuits, which you layer with fruit but not cream and then serve with more fruit and whipped cream on the side. Makes for a rather dramatic presentation individually, though it looks a bit plain on the cake plate.
Let's see, how did I deviate? I added a bit of whole-wheat pastry flour (because I do, in fact, have five different kinds of flour in my big freezer) and some vanilla to the biscuit dough. I also used 2 lbs of strawberries and 1 lb. of raspberries in the fruit because Sam's (yes, Sam's--deal with it) had much nicer raspberries than strawberries overall. I also used some raspberry eau de vie instead of Kirsch because we had it. And I put a bit of that raspberry eau de vie into the whipping cream as well.
The verdict? Everyone was delighted, and the cake is pretty much gone, but I wasn't that thrilled. I found the shortcake to be bitter. I think 4 teaspoons of baking powder for 2 cups of flour is a bit over the top. And I would use raspberry jam instead of strawberry jam next time--I don't really like the cooked-strawberry taste of strawberry jam. What I would have given for some of Mom's yummy freezer jam...
So, you tell me--is my nostalgia overcoming my good taste, or is this just not the end-all and be-all of strawberry shortcake?

This is the recipe I made:

Strawberry Shortcake

3 lbs. strawberries, sliced (or 2 lbs. strawberries and 1 lb. raspberries)
2 T. Kirsch or whatever fruity liqueur you have around
12 oz. (1 cup) strawberry or raspberry jam

Go ahead and get the strawberries sliced and ready before you make the cake. Also, measure out the jam into a microwave-safe bowl.


2 c. (8 oz.) sifted flour (part whole-wheat is OK)
4 t. baking powder (I would try 1 T.)
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. (1.2 oz.) sugar
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, in small dice
1 egg
1/3 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Heat the oven to 450. Grease two 8-inch cake pans (consider lining these with parchment; my cakes stuck). Get out the food processor and give the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar a buzz. Then pulse in the butter until you have coarse crumbs--not too much. Mix the egg with the milk and vanilla and pour that in; pulse until it holds together. Press the dough into the pans and bake for about 10 minutes or until they're nice and golden. Cool on racks.
While the shortcakes are baking, melt the jam in the microwave for about 1 minute on high. Add the Kirsch to the strawberries/raspberries and give that a toss.
When you're ready to eat dessert, and you shouldn't wait too long after you take the cakes out of the oven, mix the jam and the Kirsch with the strawberries. Then whip some cream:
1 c. heavy whipping cream (Maida says 2, but the 6 of us couldn't even finish 1)
1-2 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1-2 t. Kirsch or what have you
Whip that with an electric mixer until it reaches the consistency you like in a whipped cream.

OK, now put this together (see photos above). Put the ugly, cracked cake layer on your cake plate and cover with about half the fruit. Put the better-looking cake on top. Meh. Then get your dessert plates out. Cut a slice of cake, put it on the plate, and surround it with fruit and cream. Much better. Repeat for however many people are eating, and devour. This will probably serve 8. Maida suggests this for brunch, in which case it would probably serve 4. What--it's fruit and biscuits, right?

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the nostalgia. We didn't ALWAYS use margarine, but we used to think it was better for us (mistake). I remember one time I made the whip cream and added way too much sugar to it. Gag! I agree, 4 t. of baking powder for 2 C. flour sounds like too much. Glad you got a camera working again!