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Friday, October 24, 2008

A cake for the weekend: Amazing strawberry shortcake

I have already mentioned that fall is here and winter is coming soon, right?! (Sorry about that). (Like you didn’t know…). The side effect of the weather change is that strawberries are going to disappear from the markets and stores pretty soon. Peaches and nectarines are already gone. So, a minute before they vanish until next summer, I had to have strawberry shortcake.

I’ve seen strawberry shortcakes at some festivals and fairs during summer (even at the Strawberry festival in Bellevue), but to my big disappointment, they make them with fake whipped cream, non-organic strawberries and yucky biscuits. All frustrated, I have made it once at home but the shortcake recipe was just OK. So today I thought: “Nancy Silverton will not disappoint me” and turned to her cookbook “Desserts”.

Before I continue, I must note that most of the people I know never made real whipped cream at home! Some never tried, some gave it up , and some try to substitute with that fake whipped cream in the can with the spray top, or whatever it is called, with all the bad stuff in it (words no one knows what they mean under “ingredients”) to save time/effort.

Now is a time for a little story. It’s very personal, though.
Back when I was in high school I was addicted to… strawberries and whipped cream. We had a hand mixer at home but my mom never bought real fresh heavy cream. We had POWDERED cream in a box. Hmmm… never mind. I used to whip it with a hand mixer. Then one day the electricity was out and I had to have my daily shot of cream! So, very resourceful me, I took a jar with a lid and shook the hell out of it.

Lesson of the story: if you are afraid to whip some real cream at least once in your life, or won’t invest in a mixer, not even a hand mixer, try the jar trick. It's not the real deal but will be so much better than any powdered of fake liquid cream. I promise.

Making cream is very very easy. Instructions below.
If you still don’t feel like giving it a try, don’t be sad, you can still enjoy the amazing strawberry shortcake using sour cream or crème fraiche

Tips for making home-made whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons sugar

Whisk the cream with mixer or a whisk (or jar) until it looks like this.

Now you need to start watching it closely because it’s going to be ready any second.
And that’s it!

I tried the recipe with sour cream. It tastes good.

But nothing triumphs real heavy cream. So I made it again and tasted it.

Sometimes I hate my job. Oh, wait, this is not my job. I’m blogging for free, ha ha ha.

Amazing strawberry shortcake

Adapted from Nancy Silverton “Desserts” cookbook

Makes 8 servings

Shortcake biscuits:

2 ¾ cups flour
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1 cup heavy cream + 1 tablespoon for brushing the dough

The filling:
3-4 cups strawberries, sliced/diced mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup raspberries, optional
1 cup heavy cream (or substitute crème fraiche/sour cream) whipped with 1-2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Adjust oven rack in the middle of oven. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl of a standing mixer (I think a food processor will work too, but I haven’t tried it). Add butter and mix on low speed, using the paddle attachment, for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is the consistency of a fine meal, and pale yellow in color. Pour in the cream and mix until the mixture just comes together in one mass.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 3-4 times until it forms a smooth ball. Don’t overwork it.
Now here comes a major shortcut I took instead of rolling and re-rolling the dough:
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. With your hands shape them to small discs, like a thick cookie shape. The biscuits expand but don’t rise much when baked.

The biscuits can be formed and refrigerated up to 2 hours before baking.

Before baking, brush the biscuits tops lightly with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown.

For strawberry sauce – optional:
Take half of the strawberries and mash with a fork, or process in a food processor.

Assembling the shortcakes:
Cut biscuits lengthwise carefully.
Spoon whipped cream/sour cream/crème fraiche.
Top with strawberries and/or strawberry sauce.

Have a summery and sweet weekend.

More cakes:
Cake for the weekend: Black Forest Chocolate Roulade
Cocoa-Marzipan Pound Cake
Rose-orange cheesecake
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Crostata with Summer Fruit
Blueberry crumb cake

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