dream crusher mythbuster mode today, which means I’m about to drop truth about a thing you’ve probably thought was true but really isn’t. So, here goes. Those round, yellow, cakey cups in the produce section, you know, the ones stacked up next to the strawberries? Well contrary to what you might have been raised (as I was) to think, they’re NOT shortcakes. If you grew up punishing those little cups topped with strawberries and sweetened whipped cream Cool Whip, you weren’t actually eating strawberry shortcakes. Nope, you were eating dessert cups with strawberries and Cool Whip. Don’t worry, though. I’m here to show you exactly how easy it is to make Strawberry Shortcakes!
What is a Shortcake?
A shortcake is a cross between a biscuit and a scone. It’s dense, slightly crumbly and a little sweet, unlike dessert cups, which are mini sponge cakes. Shortcakes get their name from the amount of fat or shortening added to the dough. For strawberry shortcakes, the cakes are split and the bottom half topped with macerated strawberries. The top’s put back in place on top of the berries and a dollop (or three) of sweetened whipped cream finishes it off.
Berries are typically macerated (or soaked) in a liquid (alcohol or other liqueurs, vinegars or simple syrups) but because strawberries have such a high water content a sprinkling of sugar is all they need to get their juices flowing.
To give your shortcakes a professional finish, brush the tops lightly with heavy cream or milk before baking. The milk gives the shortcakes their golden brown color (brush shortcakes with an egg wash, made by scrambling an egg with a splash of water, for a deeper brown finish). Follow the cream, milk or egg brush with a sprinkling of raw or turbinado sugar, which will give the shortcakes a crisp, shiny top.
Cut strawberries into thick slices. Thin slices will turn to soft mush as they macerate.
If you don’t have raw or turbinado sugar, regular white sugar will work too. Turbinado sugar’s larger grain gives your crust more sparkle.
Don’t overmix or overknead your dough. Stop mixing as soon as your dough forms. Stop kneading as soon as it’s smooth. Overworking the dough will make it tough.
A light dusting of flour is all y need on your work surface. Too much flour will make your dough dry and tough.
- 3 cups thickly sliced strawberries, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoons salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- ½ cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon milk or heavy cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- Place strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Let sit while preparing shortcakes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Gradually add the butter while the mixer runs and mix until the mixture looks like large crumbs and no large pieces of butter remain.
- Gradually add the 1/2 cup milk and mix just until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth.
- Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/2-inch thick. Use a 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out shortcakes. Place shortcakes on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Brush lightly with 1 teaspoon milk then sprinkle with turbindo sugar. Bake until light brown, about 8-12 minutes.
- Combine cream and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk vigorously until soft peaks form.
- Slice shortcakes in half horizontally. Place bottom half on plate. Top with a spoonful of strawberries, the top half of the shortcake and a dollop of whipped cream.