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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Strawberry Shortcake the right way.

I'm going to tell you the proper way to make strawberry shortcake. When I was growing up, I thought there was only one way - the proper way - but now I live in the South and I see there is a different, erroneous method.

Here in the South, strawberry shortcake is often made with three extremely incorrect materials:
  • Soft yellow spongecake;
  • Strawberries covered with glutinous, gelatinous red gunk;
  • Cool Whip.

OK, here is the proper Yankee method (makes three).
  1. Go pick some strawberries. There are pick-your-own patches nearby, aren't there? Don't choose strawberries which are tough, tasteless, and big as grapefruits. Pick berries of a modest and proper size.

  2. Thinly slice the strawberries, a couple hours ahead of time - two or three times as many of them as you can possibly imagine needing - and put sugar on them so they make their own gravy.

  3. Make buttermilk biscuits (see below), one per person.

  4. Whip a half pint of whipping cream with a little sugar and vanilla. We are lucky enough to have Mapleview Farms of which J. Scott Wilson says: "Mapleview Farms, in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, is Jimmy Chalmers' choice for top of the heap. The owners are relocated Vermont dairymen, and feed the cattle a high-protein cottonseed-based diet that, according to Jim, results in a milk so high in butterfat it should be against the law."

  5. Cut the biscuits in half. Layer: bottom of biscuit, gloppy strawberries, whipped cream, top of biscuit (I turn it upside down), gloppy strawberries, whipped cream.

Makes three (3" diameter)

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter
about 1/2 cup buttermilk

Dump dry ingredients in a bowl - forget that nonsense about sifting - grate the butter onto the dry ingredients - squish the butter in with your fingers. Add enough buttermilk to take up every last bit of the dry stuff. Roll it out about 1/3 to 1/2" thick, cut into rounds 3" in diameter. Bake at 425 about 12 minutes.

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At 1:11 PM, Blogger kenju said...

This is NOT helpful for a biscuit addict who is trying to cut back!
Now I am so hungry for your shortcake, I could eat a horse.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Cheryl said...

If its on sponge, its a flan, in the UK.
I have never heard a flan called a shortcake - no wonder you get fed up!

At 9:01 PM, Blogger Badaunt said...

I've always disliked sponge, and the idea of calling something with sponge in it 'shortcake' is criminal.

I got a horrible surprise the first time I ordered fruitcake in Japan. It turned out to be sponge cake with a couple of strawberries on it, and fake whipped cream.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

This is NOT simply a Yankee/Southern distinction. The shortcake that you describe as the Yankee version is, except for slight variations in the biscuit recipe, exactly what this ex-pat Texan has always known as strawberry shortcake.

Those horrid, packaged yellow spongecake rounds with the dent in the top for the fruit? The first time someone ever fed me one of those was in New England.

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that people in your neck of NC are trying to pass that abomination as shortcake. I grew up here in NC, and I can tell you that biscuits are the One True Way to make strawberry shortcake.

Of course, we love strawberries so much that we just eat bowlsful of macerated strawberries, too.

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel your pain! My mother in law never fails to miss an opportunity to make "strawberry shortcake" at family gatherings. Not only is the base a sad piece of store bought sponge cake, but beat the cream until it is almost solid. Of course there is no sugar added to the cream "its bad for you". Ugh! I used to bake professionally, my face says it all.

The fussy Canadian


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