Easy strawberry shortcakes, this weekend’s dessert


Here in California strawberries are everywhere at the moment, so it’s the perfect time for one of my favorite desserts, strawberry shortcake.  I made these for a garden lunch party with out of town friends last week.  My friend Yin snapped this lovely photo, and I just had to share it with you.

Because strawberry shortcakes are so simple, they rely on the good
graces of perfect ingredients.  You’ll need sublime berries and
delicious cream–don’t even think about that stuff you spray out of a
can.  Well, actually you can get away with less-than-perfect berries,
macerating them in flavored syrup can help lift the pedestrian
ones to the realm of the wonderful.  (Try the "strawberry in hibiscus
syrup" recipe I posted a while back.)  Nothing this side of the Milky Way can rescue the nasty white substance sprayed from the can though–so if that’s all you have, do yourself (and me) a favor and go buy some good cream.

This shortcake recipe is so simple.  You can roll it out and cut neat little rounds to make perfectly formed shortcakes if you feel a bit orderly that day.  Or if you’re in a rebellious mood you can just stir the ingredients together and spoon-drop it in big lumps to make more rustic looking biscuits.  Either way you’ll end up with delicious shortcakes ready to take on your delectable berries and heavenly mound of whipped cream cloud.

Pim’s Strawberry Shortcakes
(makes about 12 shortcakes*)

5 cups self-rising flour** (550g)
    (or 5 cups of all-purpose flour with 1tbsp+1tsp baking powder)
1/2 cup sugar (about 110g)
2 tsp. salt
7 tbsp butter, cold (100g)
1 orange
2 cups heavy cream (500 ml.)
4-5 baskets of strawberries, or more if you want

For the shortcakes

Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C.

In a large mixing bowl, stir all the dry ingredients together until well-mixed.  Cut cold butter into small cubes and toss them into the dry ingredients.  Use a pastry knife, a fork, or your hand, cut the butter into the flour.  Continue until you have tiny butter morsels spread around the dry ingredients.  The whole thing should resemble lumpy wet sand. 

Zest one orange directly into the heavy cream and stir to mix.  Pour the cream into the bowl with the dry ingredients mixed with the butter.  Gently stir in the cream to mix, continue until all the liquid is incorporated into the dry ingredients.

At this point you can spoon the mixture and drop it directly onto a baking sheet.  You should get about 12 lumpy mound of dough.

If you want to make neat-looking round shortcakes, dump the mixture on a clean surface or a pastry board.  Knead it a few times until it comes together into a smooth dough.  Roll it out to a rectangle.  I measure it with my round biscuit cutter (2.5inch or 6cm) so that I can cut three rows of four rounds, yielding 12 round shortcakes ready for the oven. 

Brush the top of the shortcakes with a bit of extra cream or egg wash.  Bake in the preheated oven (middle rack) for 15- 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.  Remove from the baking sheet immediately and let cool on a rack before serving.

For the strawberries

If you have sublime berries, just wash, dry, cut off the crown and cut into 3-4 slices depending on the size of each berry.  If you think your berries need a little booster, you can toss them with a bit of sugar, Grand Marnier, or other booze of your choice, and let macerate in the fridge while you deal with everything else.  By the time you’re done the berries will be ready. 

For fancier shortcakes, try a trick I stole from Alain Ducasse–mix the strawberries with a bit of sugar and chopped up tarragon–or the recipe I got from Alain Passard–strawberries with hibiscus syrup.

For the cream

Similarly, if you have sublime cream, you don’t need to add anything, just whip until it forms a soft peak and serve.  I disliked strongly whipped cream with my shortcakes.  I whip the cream just until it hits a soft peak so when I spoon it on top of the shortcake and strawberries it’s like a softly whipped cloud blanket.  If your cream doesn’t taste like much, add a bit of vanilla extract or sugar to help it out a little.

To serve

For the rustic shortcakes, put one on a dessert plate, nestle a bunch of berries right next to it, and spoon a generous amount of cream over everything.  For the neat little rounds, you can slice each one in half, place the bottom half on a plate, top with strawberries (and a bit of the macerating syrup if you’ve got it) then a big spoonful of cream, and top it all with the top half of the shortcake. 

*You can easily halved this recipe if you don’t want to make so many shortcakes.  I, however, always make this amount, my friends somehow manage to eat them all almost every time.  In the rare occasions that I have leftovers, these shortcakes–well, scones really–freeze very well.  I wrap each one in plastic and just put them in the freezer.  When I want to use them, I let them thaw for a few hours (still wrapped) then pop them (unwrapped now, ok) into my toaster oven for just a few minutes to warm.  They’re practically freshly made at that point.

**I have a lot of cream and buttermilk around these days, so I bake a lot of scones.  I find it easier to just keep some self-rising flour around so I don’t have to bother with measuring tiny spoons of baking powder and baking soda.  You don’t need self-rising flour for this recipe to work, obviously.  Just add baking powder to your regular all-purpose flour as specified in the recipe.

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26 Responses to “Easy strawberry shortcakes, this weekend’s dessert

  • SamanthaF said:
    May 16th, 2008 at 5:30pm

    Sundays pudding methinks……xx

  • Casey said:
    May 16th, 2008 at 10:03pm

    I worship at the same Church of Softly Whipped Cream at shortcake time.
    Yesterday at lunch at Village Pub in Woodside I had a perfect rhubarb/strawberry shortcake–exemplary biscuit and cream whipped exactly right. It made me very, very happy.

  • Helen said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 2:59am

    How beautiful. I am so envious that you have strawberry season over there! We still have to wait a couple of months here in London. I will be giving your strawberry recipes a try when they finally appear though, thanks for directing me to the strawberries in hibiscus recipe, that is delightful.

  • Helen said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 3:01am

    Sorry, not a couple of months for them to arrive, a couple of months for the best ones!!

  • Helen said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 3:03am

    Sorry, not a couple of months for them to arrive, a couple of months for the best ones!!

  • YKL said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 3:47am

    wish I was eating that again right now!! 😀 But thanks for posting the recipe – have never made it with cream so will need to try that out.

  • Deborah Dowd said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 5:58am

    Here in the South, we know that spring is here when strawberry-pickin starts. We have already been to the fields once,freezing our excess for fall.

  • Deborah Dowd said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 5:58am

    Here in the South, we know that spring is here when strawberry-pickin starts. We have already been to the fields once,freezing our excess for fall.

  • Vanilla said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 7:32pm

    Yep! Strawberries are definitely back in California and we have been enjoying them also up here.
    The BEST ones, grown locally, are yet to come at our farmer’s market and I cannot wait for the splurge!

  • ShopLittleGifts said:
    May 17th, 2008 at 9:33pm

    Nice recipe! Great way to use up my strawberries. I’ve been growing some in my garden and last weekend we were up in Rutherford and stopped by a fruit stand and got boxes of strawberries and cherries – this recipe would work with pitted cherries too. Maybe I should cook the cherries a bit… into a compote…hmmm. Yum!

  • CrazyC said:
    May 18th, 2008 at 9:44am

    Before I came to California, I hated strawberries. Tasteless most of the time, and when they are not, they are usually sour. Now that I have tasted strawberries in CA, I must say they are my favorite! I picked some up at the Ferry Building Farmers Market on Saturday and I will definitely be enjoying them!
    BTW, the best place to get strawberries is in Oxnard, CA (near Santa Barbara). Apparently, it’s the #1 producer of strawberries in California!

  • sunny said:
    May 18th, 2008 at 6:38pm

    We have yummy strawberries on the Kohala side of the island here.Now I want to go out and get some right now!

  • FatB said:
    May 19th, 2008 at 8:40am

    Because strawberry shortcakes are so simple, they rely on the good graces of perfect ingredients.
    Very true. Subpar strawberries carted in from Mexico have ruined many deserts.
    As for your recipe, have you ever tried using shortening instead of butter? Butter has a better flavor(obviously) but I find that baking with shortening gives me a much better texture. Since you’d be getting most of the flavor from the berries anyways, I think that might work better.

  • Joan said:
    May 19th, 2008 at 12:47pm

    I love strawberry shortcake. And chocolate lava cake. It’s the simple desserts that make my tummy so happy.

  • lorette said:
    May 19th, 2008 at 12:51pm

    Bonsoir Pim! not sure if best to leave a comment in English or in French? anyhow, strawberries, shortbread and cream. CAN’T go wrong…but i reckon you can make it even heavenier- by using English clotted cream. My English husband got me converted to that ingredient, it’s hell on thighs and cholesterol levels but MAAAAAAAAAAAAN is it good stuff!! Not sure it’s available in San Francisco? But am prepared to ship you a tub just for you to try. keep me posted!

  • Ava said:
    May 20th, 2008 at 7:06am

    There’s just something so special about strawberry shortcake. I guess it’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

  • Simon said:
    May 22nd, 2008 at 5:42am

    I have a question for you Pim. Why do specify to add cold butter to the dry ingredients and then break it in with the flour? Wouldn’t it be easier to melt the butter and then add it to the mixture? How would the outcome change?
    It’s a pleasure to read your blog, as always.

  • empress of the skies said:
    May 22nd, 2008 at 8:01am

    i love strawberry season! and you are right…something as simple as shortcake and good whipped cream really does wonders. i was at some dinner the other night and the hostess served strawberries quartered and marinated in excellent balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked black peppers over vanilla ice cream. she said she does this to not so ripe strawberries (we don’t get the best sutff in NYC yet) to make them taste ripe and they did! i hope you try it out!

  • Hillary said:
    May 23rd, 2008 at 9:30am

    SO easy! Nicely done.

  • Mansi said:
    May 30th, 2008 at 10:42am

    This looks lovely, and you are so right about strawberries in CA! in fact, after making tonnes of desserts, I still have a huge batch waiting in the fridge:)
    the shortcake looks beautiful! in fact, I’d like to invite you to send these in for the Monthly Mingle blog event that I’m hosting!

  • sonya said:
    June 25th, 2008 at 8:52am

    I just found your blog and I like it! I love strawberries and your simple recipe is something I must make. Great picture too, especially since I also have the same Pfaltzgraf Ocean Breeze dinnerware that I received in California!

  • gökçe said:
    June 26th, 2008 at 6:05am

    hi! i’m from Turkey.i am 16 years old girl. i saw this blog at tv(national geographic)and i love it.i wish be you.i love eating too and i chose what i will eat.thanks for this dessert i will do that

  • radiobread said:
    July 8th, 2008 at 5:44pm

    This is an answer to Simon’s question regarding why to use cold rather than melted butter. I’m sure Pim could answer it better than me but, here goes:
    Melted butter works well for cakes where you want all the ingredients to be soft and crumbly and mixed together. The batter is relatively smooth. The reason pastries are flaky is because the cold butter melts during cooking leaving small pockets of air and frying the flour around it. The batter is more chunky.

  • Dorte said:
    August 1st, 2008 at 6:32pm

    I was just wondering: in the ingrediens you mention 500 ml of cream; you use some for the cakes and some for serving. The 500 ml is it all for the cake mixture or do you save some for serving, and how much?

  • kathy said:
    August 3rd, 2008 at 4:32pm

    hello.. I’m from Perú… I saw you blog in TV (National Geographic)… and I think that is amazing!…
    exquisite dessert!
    Bye Bye

  • The Elizabeth of Oz said:
    September 4th, 2008 at 4:49pm

    Hi there!
    I’m starting to suspect that what you call “shortcakes” are just good old fashioned scones (as the English call them, and us Aussies have inherited).
    A super light, SUPER delicious (and ridiculously easy) scone recipe is:
    1 cup pouring cream
    1 cup lemonade (seriously)
    3 cups self-raising flour
    Just add both wet ingredients to dry, mix swiftly (not too much) and then form into normal shapes in your preferred way (cut into neat little cakes, or just plopped in balls on the tray). The mixture is VERY soft and quite damp, so feel free to cut/shape using a bit more flour so that it doesn’t stick.
    Bake in a hot oven for ten minutes or until ever so slightly golden.
    Then halve and eat with whipped cream (please! no added sugar, it’s so much nicely cold and fresh and unsweetened) and lovely home-made jam.

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