Summer Strawberry Shortcake

Summer tends to make us pretty lazy in the cooking department. When we're enjoying really great ingredients from the garden, we don't have to do much to them to make them taste good, so there's just a lot of lightly steamed vegetables, refrigerators pickles, and some easy stir fry and curry dishes. You don't have to think about recipes so much as just pick some things and eat them.

Today, though, I have a real recipe, with actual measurements and everything. Though our first round of raspberries has just ended, our second round of strawberries has just begun, in a stroke of truly excellent timing.

We have several varieties of strawberries, but Seascape is definitely my favorite:


These are an everbearing variety, so instead of giving us just one big flush of berries in June, they give a small batch early and then have a second bloom that provides a steady supply of berries from August through early September. The second round is even better, because the warmer temperatures make them sweeter. 

We've already frozen a bunch of strawberries from June, so what to do with a couple quarts? 

Strawberry shortcake!

This is a great, egg-free choice of dessert for us right now since the chickens aren't laying very well lately. Abigail is molting, and Martha and Sally are only laying about every other or every third day. The younger girls won't be laying for another month, so we're in an egg lull.

Plus, my grandmother has a killer shortcake recipe: 


Mom Mom's Shortcake

2 cups flour
5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 425. Grease and flour a 9x9 square pan. 

2. Stir together all dry ingredients.

3. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter. This mixture will be very dry — it will barely look like you added any shortening at all.

4. Stir in milk a little bit at a time. This gets sticky, but you just have to keep going. We discovered that a rubber spatula works a lot better than a wooden spoon.

5. Spread the mixture in the pan and bake for 15 minutes. Check the center with a knife to make sure it comes out clean, then allow to cool thoroughly on a rack before cutting into squares.

I set Tiegan on the shortcake while I worked on the strawberries. This recipe is tricky at first because it feels like you're doing it wrong. It's not at all easy to stir in the milk:


But when it's done, it looks awesome :


While Tiegan worked on the shortcake, I dealt with the strawberries. I hulled and sliced up the whole quart, then added sugar. Most strawberry shortcake recipes call for 1/2 cup of sugar, but that's way too much when you're using super-ripe, just-picked berries. I cut that back to a scant 1/4 cup to account for the natural sweetness of our very awesome berries. I also went right to a secret weapon for a nice flavor boost:


This is the last of our granulated maple sugar from this winter (though I suppose I could always make more by boiling down one of our jars of syrup). The flavor isn't exactly maple-y, but it's richer and warmer than plain white sugar. It definitely gave our strawberries an extra flavor boost that's all our own terroir:


This was just enough sugar to get the berries good and syrupy without covering up all their delicious strawberry flavor. The final result, with a dollop of whipped cream:


This was really delicious on a summer night! The shortcake is just right for soaking up all the good strawberry juice. I like whipped cream, though my grandmother serves it with heavy cream poured over it — also delicious! 

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