May 26, 2021

Strawberry Shortcake

 
Recently Kitchn did a taste test of four Strawberry Shortcake recipes and the winner came from culinary icon James Beard.  The recipe was actually his mother's and uses finely crumbled hard-boiled egg yolks to give the shortcake a rich and tender crumb.  I had a few baskets of freshly picked berries from my hometown in the San Joaquin Valley that were itching to be consumed.  No better time than the present to see if these shortcakes lived up to the hype.  
 
 
While the recipe calls for making the dough by hand I always find it's easiest to let a food processor do the hard work.  In my opinion the less you handle biscuit or pie dough the better.   As I was making the shortcakes I was reminded of British style scones.  The ingredients and techniques were actually quite similar, except the shortcakes used heavy cream instead of whole milk as the liquid.


One thing I could have done without was the hour long chill in the fridge once the dough rounds were cut.  I'm an impatient baker and would have preferred putting them in the oven straightaway.  [Maybe I'll try that next time.]  After fifteen minutes in a very hot oven the shortcakes came out beautifully golden brown.  Once cooled I split one open to have a taste.  I have to admit they did live up to their reputation.   The shortcake was rich in flavor and tender in texture.  I generous spoonful of lightly sweetened strawberry slices and a dollop of whipped cream was all that was needed for a delightful summertime dessert.

Strawberry Shortcake

Shortcake
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a small mesh sieve
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
 
Strawberry Filling
3 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved or quartered, depending on size
2 tablespoons sugar

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon sugar
 
In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix in 1/4 cup of the sugar and salt. Add the chilled butter cubes and using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mixture until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Add the sieved hard-boiled egg yolks. Slowly add the cream in small increments, blending into the mixture until absorbed before adding more; gently mix until the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead into a smooth ball (about two or three turns). Gently pat down the dough to make a flat 1-inch-thick slab. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter, cut straight down to create 6 shortcakes. Place the shortcakes on a plate lined with waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Just before baking brush the tops of each shortcake with melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Transfer the chilled shortcakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven until golden and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the shortcakes cool, prepare the fruit filling and whipped cream. Place the strawberries in a large bowl. Gently fold in the sugar and let sit until macerated.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on low and gradually increase speed until it begins to thicken. Reduce speed, add sugar, and begin to slowly increase the speed until the whipped cream is thickened, about 4 minutes total.

Using a fork or serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half. Place the bottom halves on plates and generously spoon the macerated strawberries and juices over them. Top with a heaping dollop of whipped cream. Top with the other half of each shortcake. Serve immediately.

3 comments:

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