Sunday, June 7, 2009

Entertaining your Family: Homemade Shortcakes with Drunken Strawberries

This weekend for me was all about strawberry shortcake. I came upon it kind of accidentally actually - basically a result of buying too much fruit at the grocery store earlier this week, and realizing that it would be difficult for my daughter and I to consume 2 pineapples, 5 bananas, 6 apples, a large bag of grapes, about a dozen kiwis, and a whole large flat of strawberries before some of it started to go south on me (though I must say the grapes are long gone, and we've made a serious dent in the second pineapple already, so we aren't doing that bad!).

Anyway, when friends invited me for dinner this weekend, I figured that this was a good time to offer to bring a dessert, and strawberry shortcakes immediately came to mind. I've been meaning to come up with my own shortcake recipe for ages now, and with several fresh smelling strawberries consuming my senses at every turn, I decided this was the weekend. Unfortunately though, my husband is out of town - with the camera - so I couldn't document my progress (hence the borrowed picture witch I got from here).

So, onto the shortcakes. I looked at SEVERAL recipes before my first attempt, as I had a few stipulations. One, I didn't want to have to use buttermilk in my recipe. I didn't have any, and I was in no mood to a) go to the store to get some, and b) fuss about with vinegar and what have you to make my own. I wanted this recipe to be as approachable as possible, and buttermilk just isn't something people have on hand every day. The other thing I wanted was for the batter to be tasty, but not too sweet. I planned on adding sugar and booze to my strawberries, topping them with sweetened whipped cream, and dusting the whole lot with icing sugar. That's sweet enough. The shortcake I envisioned was going to be pillowy and soft, but not overpowering to the point that it would take away from the star ingredient (hello, strawberries!).

So, my first attempt was not good. The biscuits didn't rise properly, they had no colour whatsoever, and they were pretty much tasteless. Nope, simply would not do. Batch number two on the other hand...

Here is the recipe:

2 cups flour
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
pinch of salt (if your butter is salted), or 1/8 of a teaspoon if it is not
1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold butter, cut into small pieces
zest of half a lemon
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoon heaving cream (or 1 beaten egg mixed with a little milk) for brushing

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the butter. Pulse mixture 5 or 6 times until the mixture reassembles a coarse meal (there should be little lumps of butter throughout) do not over mix. Add lemon zest and milk and pulse 3 or 4 more times until mixture just starts to come together into a ball.

Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and drop on prepared baking sheet. Lightly pat the dough into rounds, 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter and lightly brush the tops with the cream or egg mixture.

Bake the shortcakes in the center of the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the strawberries, I borrowed a topping from another recipe. Jazzing them up with a little booze just makes the dessert more elegant!

Drunken Strawberries:
2 pounds of strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
2 - 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier or Cointreau
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To serve the shortcakes:
Cut the top 1/3 portion off the shortcake, set aside. Place bottom piece on a serving plate and top with about a cup of the strawberry mixture. Dollop with whipped cream, and place the "lid" back on the top. Garnish with an extra dollop of whipped cream (if desired) some additional strawberries and good dusting of icing sugar. Serve.

It was good...really good. Well worth the fact that I had to make them twice (and I'll most definitely be making them again...soon).


Jeff said...

I have strawberries coming out of places right now I have no clue they could have. What started as four plants 5 years ago has grown to a tasty infestation. At this moment I am accepting any and all ideas for strawberry uses and bonus points have been awarded for use of booze. Nicely done!

Angie's Recipes said...

This sounds wonderful...esp. with drunken strawberries...
All can be prepared beforehand, great for outside catering.