We were at dinner with our neighbors the other night discussing what makes the best strawberry shortcake. I think it all depends on what you grow up with, but the six of us adults were of the mind that we don’t want sponge cake posing as shortcake. And though a biscuit will do, preferably it would be something in between a cake and a biscuit, something more scone-like. Something that crumbles just so with the slight tang of buttermilk and just a hint of salt. Something lumpy and old-fashioned between which to mound impossibly juicy strawberries and a pillow of sweet cream.
This is it. This is my favorite shortcake recipe. It’s a variation of one I’ve already run on this blog, but that was eight whole years ago. (Have I really been blogging that long? Yup, I have.) Since then, I’ve made a few changes that really improved the recipe. So here’s my new and improved version of strawberry shortcake, just in time for strawberry season to be almost over. There’s nothing fancy or difficult or trendy about it, but it's exactly what I want when I see all those beautiful local strawberries.
Make this while the getting’s still good. Serves 6 to 8.
2 quarts fresh strawberries, tops cut off, sliced
1/3 + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk (I like Kate’s)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 pint heavy cream
2 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
Vanilla extract, to taste
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, gently stir together the sliced strawberries with 1/3 cup sugar (or more, depending on the sweetness of the fruit). Set aside covered at room temperature while making the shortcakes.
In the bowl of a food processor, mix together the flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter pieces and process 15-20 seconds until the butter pieces are pea-sized or smaller. Transfer to a medium bowl. (You can also skip the food processor and cut in the butter by hand or with a pastry blender.) Add the buttermilk and mix until just blended. Drop large, heaping spoonfuls of the batter in mounds onto the prepared pans at least two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the tops start to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
When ready to serve, whip the cream with the confectioner’s sugar and a dash of vanilla with an electric mixer on medium for a few minutes, just until smooth and mounding. To assemble, split the shortcakes in half horizontally. Over the bottom half, spoon lots of strawberries and their juices as well as a generous dollop of whipped cream. Replace the top half of the shortcake a bit askew. Pass remaining strawberries and whipped cream at the table.