Making Short Work of Fresh Strawberries | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 31 May 2012 14:13

053112fRipe California strawberries from Watsonville are in abundance at produce counters and Farmers’ Markets these days, reminding us that it’s once again time to get out our favorite dessert recipes and make the most of this fabulous fruit.

Of course shortcake, one of America’s favorites. is what we think of first.

The name derives from being made “short,” a word dating back to Fifteenth Century England where the word shortcake meant Scottish shortbread, a butter-rich cookie.

Here, shortcake means a rich pastry enclosing fruits, a dessert that became very popular in the mid-1800s.

Today, there are many modern variations using pound cake, angel food cake, or sponge cake, but traditional old-fashioned shortcake is still made with a sweetened biscuit pastry, plenty of sliced strawberries, and a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Below you’ll find the Ultimate Strawberry Shortcake recipe and a couple of other dessert favorites.

ULTIMATE STRAWBERY SHORTCAKE

Shortcakes

1 cup all purpose flour

1-1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into little cubes

3 ounces heavy cream, plus extra cream and sugar for the biscuit topping

Strawberry Mixture

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

2-3 tablespoons sugar, to taste

1 teaspoon good aged balsamic vinegar (optional)

Whipped Cream

2/3 cup heavy cream

1-2 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Shortcakes: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir to mix.

Add the butter and cut into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, using your fingers, or two forks or a pastry cutter.

Add the cream and stir to mix until the dough comes together. Use a light hand, and don’t overwork.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and press together into a flat square shape, and roll out dough to 3/4 inches thick. Cut the dough into quarters, and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Brush the tops with a little heavy cream and sprinkle with a little sanding sugar.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on baking rack to cool.

For the Strawberry Mixture: Mix half of the strawberries with the sugar and balsamic vinegar, mashing gently with a fork to release the fruit juices. Toss in the remaining strawberries and set aside for 15 minutes to macerate.

For the Whipped Cream: Whip the cream in a bowl with an electric mixer (or use a whisk if you’ve got strong arms!).

When soft peaks form, add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.

Assemble the Shortcakes: Slice each shortcake in half crosswise. For each shortcake, place the bottom half of one shortcake cut side up on a plate

Layer a generous spoonful of the strawberry mixture, then the whipped cream, and finish with the top half of the shortcake. You can top with more of the strawberry mixture or whipped cream, or both. Serves 4.

STRAWBERRY LASSI

If you’ve never tried a Lassi, this is a quick and easy treat you’ll want to make again and again.

8 ounces fresh strawberries, trimmed and halved

1 (8-ounce) container strawberry-flavored Greek yogurt (or plain Greek yogurt)

1 cup crushed ice

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Tiny pinch salt

1-2 tablespoons agave syrup (if needed)

Put all ingredients except agave in a blender, put the lid on and blend on high speed until smooth and light pink.

Taste and add agave as needed; some strawberries are sweeter than others, so adjust sweetener to your taste. (Also, if you end up using plain unsweetened yogurt, you may find you need more sweetener.) Blend on high to combine.

Pour into pretty glasses and serve. This looks particularly beautiful and festive in stemmed or frosted glasses. Serves 3-4.

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM TRIFLE

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1-1/2 cups cold water

1 (1-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (9-inch) prepared angel food cake

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries

3 whole fresh strawberries

In a bowl, whisk the milk and water. Whisk in the pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set; fold in the whipped topping. Cut cake into 1/2-in. cubes.

Spoon a third of the pudding mixture into a 4-qt. trifle or glass bowl. Top with half of the cake cubes and sliced strawberries. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining pudding mixture. Garnish with whole strawberries. Serves 12.

 

 


 

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