For what seems like forever, my children have been anxiously awaiting these little bites of springtime to come into season!
And although we still have a couple of weeks to go before the locally-grown strawberries will be ripe in our area...we all were excited to see them finally go on sale at the store, looking ripe and red and juicy.
So it has been officially declared to be "strawberry season" in our home. :)
Last week, Little Monkey asked if I could make him a strawberry cake, and a few days later I spotted this recipe in The Farmhouse Cookbook - claiming to be "the best" shortcake, ever.
We gave it a try....and everyone in my family heartily agreed!
This shortcake is similar in texture and taste to a scone, and is very simple to make. Best of all, the cakes keep very nicely overnight, in a covered container, making it a perfect springtime dessert to prepare in advance for company.
I ended up changing just a few things in the recipe to accommodate the ingredients I keep on hand...so here's my version. :)
"The Best" Strawberry Shortcake
(click here for a printable copy)
1 pound strawberries, sliced
sugar to taste
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
extra sugar to taste
Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet (or line with parchment paper). Slice the berries and toss with sugar, setting them aside for later.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and the 4 tbsp. of sugar, mixing well. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter...
It will be finished when the mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized pieces mixed in. This should only take a minute or so.
Next, mix the cream and almond extract together & add all-at-once to the flour mixture. Stir lightly just until all the dough is moistened - don't over-mix.
Turn the dough onto a heavily-floured surface (I found that my dough would stick unless I really put a lot of flour down!) and press it flat with a floured rolling pin, until it makes a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds, like this :
Then lightly dust it with flour & roll it into another 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Turn the dough and repeat.
This time, slice the rectangle in half cross-wise and then into eight triangles.
Place the triangles onto your prepared pans, leaving about 1/4 inch between the pieces. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they are just beginning to turn a little brown on the edges. (Overbaking dries them out.) Cool on a wire rack. Serve one triangle on a plate, topped with the berries and a dollop of whipped cream.
I know many of you already know about homemade whipped cream.....and maybe even have some fresh, raw cream of your own to make it with (yum!).
But...for me, this was a treat I didn't discover until several years ago. Before then, I had only tasted the kind from a can, or cool whip.
Which is yummy, too....but in case you have never tried making the homemade variety before, here is the recipe.
It is so easy! And, I promise, the incredibly fresh taste is well worth the extra effort. :)
Homemade Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream, chilled
1-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
Start by chilling your bowl and whisk (or beaters, if using a mixer) by running them under very cold water, or setting them in the freezer for a minute or two. Stir together the cream, sugar and vanilla (if using) in the bowl, then whip vigorously for a few minutes until it forms "stiff peaks" (that is, it looks like whipped cream. :)
Some tips... It takes a few minutes for the cream to solidify...first you will see frothy bubbles, then it will be a thick liquid, then it will turn solid - just keep stirring. :) A cold bowl helps make this go much faster. Also, adding more sugar will help stabilize the cream if it's too runny.
Have a lovely day, enjoying the sweetness of this season!