In the USA, shortcake is a small cake made of sweetened biscuit dough.
If you’re one of those folks who uses angel food cake, pound cake, or vanilla sponge cake for your “strawberry shortcake,” this post is not for you. Don’t get me wrong, I will happily consume strawberries and whipped cream with ALL of those lovelies, but it isn’t “strawberry shortcake.” Only a buttery, flaky, crumbly around the edges, biscuit-y shortcake, warm from the oven and mounded high with fresh local strawberries and homemade whipped cream will qualify as strawberry shortcake in my world.
This recipe is it.
The original recipe for my strawberry shortcake came from Fine Cooking. While their recipe is fantastic, I have adjusted a things to my personal preferences and I also use a few different techniques to achieve my ideal shortcake.
Here are some of my tips:
When making most types of biscuits or scones, you’ll want to use very cold ingredients. The colder your ingredients, the more likely you will get extra flaky results. I like to keep a stick of unsalted butter in the freezer at all times in case the mood to make shortcakes or scones strikes me. Once I’ve mixed my dry ingredients, I roll the stick of butter in the dry ingredients, then proceed to grate the butter, using a large hole cheese grater, into the dry ingredients.
When shaping the dough, I use a trifold technique to achieve even more flaky layers in my shortcake. Think of it like rolling or pressing the dough into a rectangle the size of a sheet of printer paper. Then, fold the dough as if you’re going to put it in a long envelope. I repeat this process 2 more times before using a bench cutter (or sharp knife) to trim the edges and cut my shortcakes into squares.
Why squares? I don’t like to waste biscuit-y goodness for the sake of being a circle. If you want circular shortcakes, go right ahead and use a cutter. Be careful not to twist the cutter! Push the cutter straight down and bring it straight back up so you can keep those awesome layers you went through all that trouble to make.
Another trick I use to achieve the flaky layers I love so much is to freeze the cut shortcakes before baking them. They only need 20-30 minutes in the freezer to re-chill the bits of butter before baking. If you want to make the shortcakes ahead, you can wrap the shortcake dough tightly at this point and freeze them for baking later. Well wrapped shortcakes will last a month in the freezer like this.
One last thing you can do for your shortcakes to make them extra special is to sprinkle them with large crystal sugar (such as Turbinado or Sugar in the Raw) or Swedish Pearl Sugar before baking to add some extra crunch and sparkle.
Treat your strawberries however you like them best. The Fine Cooking recipe recommends adding sugar and partially mashing them. Most store bought strawberries, especially off season, will need some sugar or honey. If I have fresh local berries (in May around KC) , I slice them into 8ths and I skip the sugar entirely. I prefer a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of vanilla on the sweet berries we pick in May. If you have leftover strawberries, they make great additions to oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, or cream of wheat the next morning!
Fresh whipped cream is easy and dreamy, but there’s absolutely no shame in grabbing a can or tub of your favorite whipped topping. You do you.
I will have to take more pictures the next time I make this!
Strawberry ShortcakeCourse: Dessert
2 cups (+ additional for shaping dough) unbleached all purpose flour
6 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher or vanilla salt
1/2 cup (4 oz, usually 1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
1 large egg, cold
1/4 cup (+2 Tbsp additional for brushing) heavy whipping cream, cold
1/4 cup buttermilk, cold
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: Large Crystal sugar or Swedish Pearl Sugar for sprinkling
1 lb (approx 4 cups) ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*Optional: 1-2 Tbsp granulated sugar or honey to taste.
- Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Roll the frozen stick of butter in the flour mixture before grating the butter into the flour mixture. Incorporate the grated butter into the mixture using a fork. Create a well in the center for the wet ingredients.
- In a small bowl, use a fork or whisk to combine the cream, buttermilk, vanilla, and egg.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend together using a fork. The mixture will seem crumbly. If it seems too dry to press together, add more cream, 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough is wet enough to clump when pressed together. The dough should still seem crumbly.
- On a floured surface, roll or press the dough into a 9×12 inch rectangle. Fold the short ends over each other in a tri-fold. Repeat 2 more times.
- After the third trifold, press the dough gently down to make it even thickness without spreading it out more. Use a sharp knife or bench cutter to trim the ends. You should see lots of layers in the sides of the dough after you cut it. Cut the rectangle into 6 pieces and place on the cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Place the cut dough into the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, set the oven to 425° F and move one of the racks to the center position. Work on preparing the strawberries, then the whipped cream while the dough chills and bakes.
- Brush the chilled shortcakes with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar before placing in the preheated oven. Shortcakes should cool about 5 minutes after being removed from the oven before topping and serving.
- Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries.
- Add lemon juice, vanilla and sugar (optional) to the berries and stir gently.
- If you prefer more juice and smaller berries, partially mash the berries with a fork or masher.
- Allow to rest at room temperature until serving. 20-30 minutes is ideal.
- Whipped Cream
- In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the cream on high speed. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Serve immediately.
- *Strawberries purchased out of season or from the store will likely need a little sweetening.