STRAWBERRIES HAVE ARRIVED (in Toronto)
After patiently waiting after what seemed like everywhere had strawberries except for Toronto, I got my first local haul at the market yesterday with the first pick of the season. I love being able to smell strawberries when you aren’t even trying, it’s a very good sign of things to come.
Now that I had my strawberries, I had to think of what to make. I didn’t buy enough for a pie and I wanted to try something new, so I thought heck, let’s make shortcake.
To be honest, I don’t think I had ever even eaten a real strawberry shortcake before this, which I then discovered was a real tragedy. The shortcakes are crumbly yet tender and so perfect right out of the oven. I wanted the whipped cream to have a pure vanilla flavour, so used vanilla bean which also added the lovely specks of the bean.
One thing to note – if you make this, make sure you’ve got a crowd to feed as it makes about 12 shortcakes. This quantity of cream and strawberries should make enough to feed 6 but you can increase/decrease as needed.
- 4 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and halved/quartered depending on size
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
- 4 cups flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup butter, divided
- 2 1/4 cups whipping cream, divided
- Seeds from half a vanilla bean
Preheat oven to 450F.
Place your prepared berries in a bowl. Crush about 1/4 of the berries gently with a fork to release the juices and mix with remaining berries and 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of sugar. Cover and set aside for about a half hour to allow berries to macerate.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add 3/4 cup of softened butter cut into 1 inch pieces and rub into the flour mixture with your hands. Continue until almost fully incorporated, with some smaller pea sized flakes as below.
Add 1 1/4 cups of cream and mix with a wooden spoon until almost incorporated, using your hands near the end to fully incorporate. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute. The dough will be soft. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness and using a 3 inch pastry cutter, cut an even number of rounds (2 rounds per serving). You can re-roll the scraps 1-2 more times.
Once out of the oven, pull shortcakes apart and brush insides lightly with melted butter.
To assemble, place the bottom half of the shortcake on a plate and top with a generous spoonful of strawberries. Top with other cake half, more strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.