Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Best Strawberry Shortcakes

The Handyman and I always disagree as to what we should put our strawberries on for strawberry shortcake.

I grew up with those store-bought pre-made sponge cakes. It was the only thing I knew, but I always knew they weren't my favorite...but that didn't stop me from eating my shortcake. ~smiles~  I ate lots of it. It's one of my favorite springtime desserts.  It feels very "Eastery" to me.

Nowadays, I like a homemade scone, which is much heartier than those individual pre-made supermarket sponge cakes.

The Handyman grew up with his mom using angel food cake as the shortcakes, and that is what he loves to have his shortcake on.

People use shortcakes, scones, pound cake, angel food, sponge cakes.... what is your favorite?  (or could it be just fresh strawberries over vanilla ice-cream? Yum!)

While trying to keep up with my Cookbook Countdown, I came across this recipe for "The One and Only Authentic Southern Strawberry Shortcake", in the cookbook "My Mother's Southern Desserts" by James Villas, and thought I'd give it a try.

WOW...I'm glad I did. These are the "perfect" shortcakes and the interesting thing is, the recipe says to butter them and spoon the strawberries over them while they are still warm. It sounded weird to me, but it was THE BEST.

Villas says this of his mother's strawberry shortcake:
Don't even start Mother talking about really Southern strawberry shortcake unless you're prepared for a heated two-hour discourse. Briefly, she abhors those little, overly sweet commercial sponge cakes used to make most shortcakes; she insists that the split biscuits (broken apart, not sliced) be buttered while still hot to add depth to the overall flavor; she cringes at just the mention of Cool Whip being substituted for fresh whipped cream; and the dessert must be served warm. Strawberry shortcake is sacred to Mother, and it continues to be the highlight of every July Fourth celebration we throw at her house or mine.

I must say.... his mother is right! Even the Handyman said they were great. I don't know what the warm melted butter does, but it's wonderful.

You'll have to see for yourself.

The One and Only Authentic Southern Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cups half-and-half
Butter for spreading
4 cups fresh, ripe-strawberries, rinsed, hulled, sliced in half and sugared to taste.
1 cup heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks and sweetened (if desired)

Pre-heat the oven to 450degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
Add the butter and using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the mixture till crumbly. In a small bowl, combine the egg and half-and-half and mix till well blended, then add to the flour mixture and stir until the mixture is thoroughly moist. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead very briefly. With your hands, pat out the dough to about a 1/2 inch thickness, then, using a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 6 biscuits. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake on the upper rack of the oven till slightly brown on top, about 10 minutes.

While they are still hot, split open the biscuits, spread lightly with butter and arrange close together on a crystal cake plate*. Spoon the berries and cream onto the biscuits and serve while still warm.

*I just individually plated each dessert.

I am going to use this recipe for both my cookbook countdown and Weekend Cooking, which is hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads.

   Weekend Cooking   is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend


Beth F said...

Drooooool. Those look so spring to me and so yummy and light and your strawberries are beautiful.

We often ate our strawberry shortcake on poundcake that had been sprinkled with some orange liqueur. Yummy.

caite said... could it be bad no matter what sort of cake you use. but...I am for the traditional shortcake if you are going to call it "shortcake". a scone, a sweet biscuit type of cake are all the same, pretty much to be and totally the way to go. super yummy!

caite said...

ooops! I forgot to say those are perfect looking strawberries.

Carin Siegfried said...

yum, you're making me hungry! I couldn't agree more about the whipped cream. I once even whipped cream BY HAND (no electric mixer, just a whisk and my strong right arm) rather than get whipped cream from a can.

Karen said...

Those shortcakes look YUMMY! The best strawberry shortcake I ever had was over a chocolate shortcake with vanilla ice cream then strawberries and whipped cream over that. :))

Heidi said...

How delicious!

bermudaonion said...

I don't like strawberry shortcake, so I don't use anything. I know - I'm strange.

Margot said...

I'll eat strawberries on just about anything but I prefer the shortcakes/biscuits you gave the recipe for. I like the combination of sweet and slightly salty. With a little whipped cream - perfect.

Friday friend recipe number 274 and 275-Grapefurit Shrimp Salad and Crispy Potato Chicken

  My Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown #274 and 275 My Mother-in-law's Grapefruit Shrimp Salad and Crispy potatoes . and you know all th...