Confession: I’ve never been a fan of strawberry shortcake, which is probably akin to saying I hate America or summertime or butterflies. I mean, for whatever reason, the strawberries always taste more like fake syrup than real fruit. My biggest issue is the tasteless cake’s texture – every shortcake I’ve ever eaten has been incredibly dry, and even when it’s soaked and soggy from the infiltrating strawberry juice, it still seems to be devoid of any flavor or pleasantries.
Whew. Feels good to get that off my chest.
Another confession, or perhaps merely a deprivation due to the sin of my parents: I’ve never eaten fresh strawberries before. I’ve had pounds of fresh vegetables, and I’ve eaten raspberries and blackberries fresh off the bushes in front of a friend’s house, but…never fresh strawberries. Riding in the backseat as we drove through the country when I was a kid, my mouth watered whenever we passed a pick-your-own-berries path or fresh berry stand. Yet for all the desires in my childish heart, I never summoned up enough courage to ask my parents if we could go berry picking out of fear of being shot down.
And that, my friends, brings us to this week, when my mother came home after a day with her sister, bearing strawberries that her previously mentioned sister (aka my aunt) had gotten that day. And holy. Cow. I will never look at store-bought strawberries the same again. So juicy, so flavorful! Gah! Maybe I’ll plant some. (Uh, on second thought. No, I don’t have time for that.)
The arrival of fresh strawberries meant only one thing to my father: strawberry shortcake. Desperate to bake something after a long day folding boxes at work, I happily obliged, although he complained that they wouldn’t be made out of Bisquick (the horror!). Along with the strawberries, my aunt had also given me a bag full of cookbooks; conveniently, I found a strawberry biscuit shortcake recipe in one of them and got right to work. On a whim, I threw in a dash of cinnamon and added more flour because what was supposed to be a mound looked a bit like a ball of wet flour. Drop drop drop on the baking pan…and 14 minutes later, they were ready to go.
Typical strawberry shortcake dealio: dish, biscuit, strawberries, biscuit, strawberries, whipped cream. Unfortunately, we seemed to be lacking in whipped cream so I substituted vanilla ice bean ice cream (I’m un-American even when I’m trying to be American…ugh). Having two enormous shortcake biscuits left after making an enormous mound for my father, I decided to make a smaller one for myself just out of curiosity.. Dish spoon mouth – and oh man, one bite cured me of my strawberry shortcake aversion. The biscuit was crunchy on the sides and very top, incredibly soft and flavorful. It tasted like something, something good – slightly sweet with a bit of cinnamon kick. Not cardboard, but fluffy, a cross between cake and an abnormally delicious sugar cookie, the perfect seat for a tumble of strawberries and an obscene amount of whipped cream.
It didn’t take long for my father to come to the same (loud) conclusion. No Bisquick shortcakes in this house.
It’s officially the weekend, and you deserve an easy, delicious bowl of sweet happiness. Go ahead.
Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake
adapted from The Best of Country Cooking 1999
(Note: this is a small recipe that can easily be doubled or even halved if desired. Only use a dash of cinnamon! The number of shortcakes will vary with how big you make the mounds.)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour (all-purpose or a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- dash salt
- dash cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter, cold
- 4 tablespoons milk, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
- whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet; set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture begins to look like coarse crumbs.
- Stir in 3 tablespoons of milk plus the vanilla vanilla until a thick batter forms. If it still seems too wet, at up to an additional 1/4 cup of flour.
- Drop the batter in mounds onto the baking sheet and brush with remaining milk.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes until you can get them off the sheet without breaking them.
- To serve: place one of the biscuits on a plate or in a bowl; top with strawberries. Place another biscuit on top of that one; top with more strawberries and whipped cream. Devour.