We went strawberry-picking again at Drumlin. This time, I brought the four-year-old, and this time, two out of two people had fun. Instead of the negative 14 people that had fun last time. This called for strawberry shortcake all around.
The best strawberry shortcake I’ve ever had was five years ago from Whole Foods. I was pregnant and working across the street from the Boston Symphony location. As part of my plan to gain the unrecommended 50 pounds of pregnancy weight, I catered to my every craving and whim. Their strawberry shortcake did not disappoint. I went back the next day for more, but their biscuit recipe had changed literally overnight. It had gone from perfect in every possible way to too spongy and too sweet. I haven’t had strawberry shortcake since.
Over the weekend, with two bursting quarts of fruit at my disposal, I scoured the Internet for the Whole Foods shortcake recipe. I couldn’t be sure this was the exact same recipe as the perfect pregnant version, but I took the presence of buttermilk to be a good sign. The result was pretty damned good. It wasn’t the crappy version, that’s for sure.
Here it is, just in case you don’t have your own favorite recipe. If you already have one and you’re sure it’s better, do let me know.
2 quarts fresh strawberries, tops cut off, sliced, a handful reserved for garnish
½ cup sugar, or more
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 pint heavy cream
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Mix strawberries with ¼ cup sugar (or more, depending on the sweetness of the fruit) in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, remaining ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix with a fork until just blended. Drop large, heaping spoonfuls of the dough onto lightly oiled baking sheets (or pans lined with parchment paper). Bake about 12 minutes or until tops start to brown. Cool.
With an electric mixer, whip cream with a dash of vanilla and a few tablespoons of sugar. Taste before you whip too much so you can add more sweetener, if necessary. Sugar added too late in the process won’t be dissolved by the time the cream is whipped. I should know.
Cut biscuits in half horizontally, if desired. Layer fruit and whipped cream between/atop biscuits, making sure liberal juice soaks into the shortcake. Garnish with lots of fresh strawberries. Don't go by my picture. You need more fresh strawberries. MORE. Torture yourself by trying to take an artful picture while it stares you in the face the whole time. Give up.
Source: Adapted from Whole Foods.