Berry Shortcakes

After we got married {which was 6 years ago today!!}, we had a bunch of family and friends that were still in town, so we decided to go on a day trip to Ogunquit, Maine.  When we lived in Massachusetts, we went there fairly frequently and usually spent Labor Day weekend there. We went to an Italian place for dinner and when it came time for dessert, everyone picked the usual Tiramisu or the decadent chocolate cake, but I opted for the Strawberry Shortcake, because I’m a sucker for fruity desserts (don’t get me started on lemon desserts…}. What came out was so unexpected that everyone was jealous! I was presented with a still warm shortcake in a bowl piled high with strawberries and just lightly sweetened whipped cream. It was amazing and is one of those things that I still think about years later.

After that, I’ve tried making strawberry shortcake at home and while it obviously turns out better than those weird spongey disks you get at the grocery store, I’ve never been satisfied like I was that night in Maine. Well, I finally found a recipe that while it’s not quite the same, is so delicious that you’re going to go and make this right this second. I loved everything about this recipe, including its ease as well as the accessibility of its ingredients. I was even able to halve the recipe so that I had three fresh shortcakes, which was perfect for us.

The shortcakes themselves are pretty great on their own as a scone or cream biscuit that would be a great breakfast item. The quick roll through raw turbinado sugar gives it such a great crunchy top, which is a great balance to soft fruit and fluffy whipped cream. The shortcakes themselves are not very sweet, so feel free to add sugar to your berries or let them shine on their own if they are at their peak sweetness.

Making your own whipped cream definitely adds something special to this dessert. My favorite way to make whipped cream these days is to pour some heavy cream and sugar in a mason jar then shake it up until it’s the consistency you want. You can store it in the jar and don’t have to worry about washing beaters and such! Plus I was able to bring it to our picnic without any issue.

Berry Shortcakes
from smitten kitchen
makes 6 large shortcakes

2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams or 3 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (205 ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons (35 grams) raw or turbinado sugar

For Filling

1 pound (455 grams) strawberries or mixed berries, hulled and halved if large
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 cup (235 ml) heavy or whipping cream

First make the shortcakes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using your fingers, pastry blender or two knives until the larges pieces of butter are no larger than a small pea.

Whisk together the egg yolks a a small splash of heavy cream. Add this to the rest of the heavy cream, then add the egg yolk/cream mixture to the dry ingredients. Combine it all together using a rubber spatula until it is just together.

Divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then dip into raw sugar, leaving the bottom clear of sugar as it tends to burn off. Place them bare spot down on the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown all over. Let cool completely on the baking pan.

While the shortcakes are baking, make the filling. Combine the berries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Let sit so the juices come out and berries macerate.

Making the whipped cream by putting heavy cream and sugar in a jar or in a large bowl. Shake up the jar or whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.

To assemble: carefully split open a shortcake. Pile berries on top of the bottom half, top with whipped cream, then carefully place the ‘lid’ on top.

These are definitely best the first day, but I wrapped an extra in plastic wrap and it was still delicious on day 2.


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