I woke up today and suddenly it is July. Wow. Last weekend felt like July not today, but I am grateful to feel a cool breeze once again. I hope that you–my readers–have come out on the other side of our epic heat dome. Pile that on top of a year plus long pandemic and it’s enough to put anyone over the edge.
I didn’t have much of an appetite when it was so hot–not wanting to eat is a rarity for me because I enjoy food so much. I especially love the summer because my garden is bursting. The heat certainly did a number on plants and it certainly accelerated the ripening of my berries. Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are being harvested at the same time this year. This is unusual for our garden. Usually it’s the strawberries, followed by raspberries and blueberries.
This is the last week for our delicious strawberries although I imagine that local berries will still be available at the Edmonds Saturday Market and at U-Pick farms. So my recipe this week is great for the Fourth of July holiday because you can make it all ahead of time. Perfect for a picnic or to take to a holiday gathering. The biscuits comes together quickly. If you have extras they freeze well too.
In addition, this shortcake is wonderful with virtually any macerated fruit. Simply toss your fruit with sugar and let stand for a minimum of 30 minutes before assembling the dessert. This is a dish that just screams summertime. Take it outside and enjoy!
For the biscuits:
4 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cups butter
1 1/4 cup cream or half & half
For the egg wash:
1 whole egg, plus 1 tablespoon cold water, lightly beaten
Optional: a sprinkle of coarse or sanding sugar, to top the egg-washed biscuits
For the berry filling:
6 cups fresh local strawberries, hulled and quartered
4 tablespoons sugar
For the vanilla whipping cream:
1 cup whipping cream, cold
1½ tablespoons (sifted confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the biscuit dough:
1. Place butter in the freezer for 30 minutes, then coarsely grate the entire cube into a bowl. Place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, assemble flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well by hand or with a whisk.
3. Add chilled butter to the bowl. Blend butter into the flour mixture by hand until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger bits of butter.
4. Slowly add cream and stir just until the dough is formed.
5. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour. Gather into a ball and gently knead 4-5 times on a lightly floured work surface.
6. Pat the dough into a 11 inch round, ½-¾” thick. With a lightly floured 3” round cutter cut out as many rounds as possible and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
7. Gather the scraps, pat out the dough and cut out more rounds, for a total of 8 rounds.
8. Brush tops with egg wash and bake in a 450 degree oven until light golden brown–about 10-15 minutes.
To make the toppings:
1. One hour before serving, slice strawberries and place in a glass bowl with sugar. Let stand at room temperature, stirring once or twice, for 1 hour.
2. Thirty minutes before serving, place a mixing bowl, beaters, and heavy cream in the freezer.
3. When ready to whip cream, remove from the freezer. Pour the cream into a chilled bowl and add the sifted confectioners’ sugar.
4. Start the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Add the vanilla extract.
5. Increase the speed to high and beat until the cream holds soft peaks.
6. To assemble the dessert, split the shortcakes in half with a fork or serrated knife. Arrange the cake bottoms on eight plates.
7. Spoon the strawberry mixture over each shortcake and top with whipping cream.
8. Cover the cream with shortcake tops. Add a generous spoonful of strawberries, then top with more whipped cream.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at email@example.com.