Strawberry shortcake is about as quick and simple as it comes to making a cake-like dessert.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it can serve as an effortless dessert for gents to prepare, looking to lavish their sweetheart with a home cooked meal.
It can also serve the ladies equally well as a treat for afternoon tea, as they gather with their girlfriends to gossip about their festive day devoted to love.
Shortcake is the Eurasian-like offspring of an interracial marriage between a scone and a shortbread biscuit. Neither the soft, crumbly texture of a scone, nor the firm buttery sweetness of a shortbread biscuit, the shortcake draws from elements of both whilst maintaining an identity that is uniquely its own.
Strawberries are the most popular accompaniment to this dessert, with records dating back to the 1850s in this form. However, the strawberries could quite easily be substituted with any berry fruit, or perhaps some non-berry fruits like peaches or mangoes.
A recipe for strawberry shortcake is provided at the end of this post. Feel free to adjust the recipe as you see fit, especially the size of the shortcakes and the quantity and arrangement of strawberries.
Some adjustments you may wish to consider include:
- Incorporating a layer of strawberry jam, especially on the top layer, to provide more strawberry flavour (good for when strawberries are not at their best), as well as providing some adhesion to prevent the strawberries from sliding around.
- Brush on a simple sugar syrup as an eye-catching glaze over the strawberries on top of the shortcake.
- Infuse vanilla or other flavours into the whipped cream.
- Add more richness to the cake by replacing the whipped cream with chilled double cream, or pipe softened ice cream to form a strawberry shortcake ice-cream sandwich.
- Do away with the strawberries entirely and serve the shortcakes in the same fashion you would with scones i.e. with jam and cream.
I hope this recipe serves you well for Valentine’s Day, or for any other day for that matter. With its list of inexpensive, readily available ingredients, this is one recipe that should offer a lot of bang for your buck.
Well, so to speak…
Edit: Corrected the standard measurement of a small carton of cream from 180ml to the correct 300ml. Have no idea where I got 180ml from…
Strawberry Shortcakes (makes approx. six)
Recipe adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s the cook’s companion.
250g self-raising flour
1/3 cup of sugar
80g unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
36 strawberries, split in half
300ml carton of cream
15g castor sugar
- Mix flour, salt & 1/3 cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- Rub the soften butter into the flour mixture with the tips of the fingers. The end result should resemble soft sand.
- Lightly beat the egg yolks and milk together.
- Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the liquids.
- Work together with as little mixing as possible to just get the mixture to form a soft dough.
- Do not overwork the dough as it’ll affect the texture of the end product by toughening it.
- Turn out onto a work surface and flatten out the dough until it is approx. 2-3cm thick. This can be done with a rolling pin but the dough should be pliable enough to do this by hand.
- Using a dough/cookie cutter approx. 10cm in diameter, dip into flour and cut straight down without twisting, to form rounds from the dough.
- Combine any scraps and repeat Step 7 until you form approx. 6 rounds.
- Place the shortcake rounds onto a baking tray. Use the thumb to make a shallow intend into the top of each dough round to prevent them from bulging in the middle as they rise.
- Baking in a preheated 180C oven for approx. 15 mins or until golden brown.
- Allow the shortcakes to cool enough to be handled. Using a serrated knife, split each shortcake in half along its equator to form two thinner rounds.
- Place the split rounds onto a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
Whipped Cream Filling
- For the cream filling, add the castor sugar to chilled cream and whip until it achieve soft peaks.
Assemble the Strawberry Shortcakes
- Lay down one of the halves of the shortcake as a base onto a serving plate.
- Apply a layer of whipped cream, making sure that it doesn’t run out to the edge of the base, as the cream will spread when the other layers are placed on top of it.
- Lay down six strawberry halves in a circular formation with the widest end facing outwards.
- Place a generous dollop of cream to fill the hollow in the centre and place the other half of shortcake on top, pushing down gently to form a level and steady top.
- Lay down another set of six strawberry halves on top of the shortcake in the same fashion as the previous layer.