This week I’m playing host for Sweet Melissa Sundays, the online group that is baking our way through The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. I wanted to pick something that was seasonal and strawberries have been wonderfully sweet and delicious from the farmers’ market. The minute I saw the Strawberry Shortcake, I knew it was THE ONE.
Los Angeles Times was also thinking the same way because they also profiled shortcakes in their food section this week: A Short Path to Shortcake Nirvana.
This is my very first time selecting a recipe for a group. And because of that I may have, possibly, gone a wee-bit overboard with my variations.
#1 Strawberry Shortcake, Original
#2 Chocolate Chip-Espresso Variation
#3 Ginger-Lime Variation
#4 Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream
I sprinkled both, #1 and #2 with Essential Cane flavored sugars, raspberry and espresso flavors. I found them at sur la table. They are cool and come in a bunch of flavors, all with only two ingredients: sugar + natural flavor.
So which variation did I like the best? This is like asking a mother (I imagine) to pick her favorite child. I loved each of them for different reasons. The original version was great because it was the classic strawberry shortcake with a twist from the lemon zest. The chocolate chip-espresso variation was wonderful, because, come on, chocolate and espresso. YUM. The ginger-lime variation was outstanding because I love the spiciness ginger lends to sweets and the ginger/lime flavor combo is classic. And last, but definitely not least, the ice cream. I’m an ice cream lover at heart. I can eat ice cream everyday. It’s my dessert. So yes, I loved the ice cream.
Go HERE to see all the other Sweet Melissa Sunday bakers and their shortcakes.
FOR THE SHORTCAKES
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar plus 1 tablespoon for glazing
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream, for glazing
FOR THE STRAWBERRIES
- 1 dry quart fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
- 3 tablespoons sugar (or more to your taste)
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
BEFORE YOU START
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
TO MAKE THE SHORTCAKES
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the zest. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles a course meal. Little by little, stir in heavy cream until the dough starts to hold together (you may use a bit more cream if need be).
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat together to form a rectangle 5 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches long that is about 1 inch thick. Cut the long side of the dough into thirds, and the width in half to form six 2 1/2-inch squares. Place the shortcakes 3 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Brush the tops of the shortcakes with the milk or heavy cream and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
While the shortcakes are cooling, prepare the strawberries. In a medium bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with the sugar. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to macerate.
TO MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the heavy cream and vanilla on medium speed. In a slow steady stream, add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms medium-stiff peaks.
The whipped cream is best used when just made, but can be refrigerated in an airtight container overnight and beaten again before serving.
TO COMPLETE THE SHORTCAKES
Fork split each shortcake in half horizontally. Place one half on each of six plates. Spoon 2 tablespoons of berries on each with a large dollop of whipped cream. Spoon more berries on top. Place each of the remaining halves on top of the berries. Garnish with more cream and berries, if desired. Add a sprig of mint for garnish, if you’d like.
PRO TIP: When whipping cream, the colder the cream the better. If the bowl, the whisk or beaters, and the heavy cream are all well-chilled, you will achieve the most volume.
Prepare the strawberries and whipped cream no more than 30 minutes before serving. The shortcakes are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting.
Chocolate Chip Espresso Variation
Omit lemon zest and use 2 teaspoons espresso powder and add 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips into dry ingredients. Optional: Top shortcakes with espresso sugar.
Ginger Lime Variation
Omit lemon zest and use lime zest instead and add 1/2 of chopped crystallized ginger into dry ingredients. Optional: Top shortcakes with chopped crystallized ginger
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream
My go-to base vanilla ice cream recipe is David Lebovitz’s Philadelphia-style vanilla ice cream. This recipe uses his base and strawberry shortcake mix-ins.
- 3 cups heavy cream
- ¾ cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 shortcake
- 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries
- 1/2 cup of whipped cream
Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups cream and the vanilla extract.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
While mixture is chilling, chop up shortcake into 1/2-inch pieces. Place shortcake pieces and strawberries on a dinner plate, separating pieces and forming a single layer. Scoop rounded teaspoons of whipped cream on to plate. Place plate in freezer to chill mix-ins.
When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As you scoop churned ice cream into container, layer with mix-ins.