Strawberry Shortcake

What’s the most popular dessert that contains  strawberries? If you guessed strawberry shortcake, there’s a good chance that you might be right. On the other, it’s hard to find any polls or surveys confirming that.

Undoubtedly, though, strawberry shortcake is among the top summertime desserts. In fact, some people celebrate June 12 as National Strawberry Shortcake Day.

For those of you who don’t know, strawberry shortcake is a popular scone or biscuit-like pastry that is made from milk, flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs as well shortening or butter.

The origin of this delicious dessert dates back as early as the 1500s in Europe, but it wasn’t until a few hundred years later that it became popular in the United States. However by 1850, strawberry short cake parties were the rage in the U.S., especially while welcoming the summer every year.

With a small crop of strawberries in our little garden this year, we might have enough for a dessert or two besides some for our morning breakfast cereal.

Here’s a recipe that I may try, courtesy of Los Angeles Times writer S. Irene Virbila. She adapted it from one in author Lindsey Shere’s “Chez Panisse Desserts.”

Strawberry Shortcake
STRAWBERRIES:
3 16-ounce pints strawberries
About 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
Two to four hours before serving, wash and hull the berries. Roughly slice or quarter two-thirds of the berries into a large bowl. Sprinkle the sugar over the berries and, using a wire pastry blender, smash the berries so they begin to juice. Halve or slice the remaining berries into the bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
SHORTCAKES:
2 cups (8.5 ounces) flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream, divided
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like cornmeal with a few larger pieces of butter in it. Use a pastry blender or two knives, if you like. Mix in three-fourths cup of cream, just until most of the dry mixture has been moistened. Turn out on a board and knead a few times until the dough just comes together. Divide into six portions and lightly pat into flat rounds about one-half-inch thick.
Place on an unbuttered baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons cream, and bake until the tops are lightly browned and the dough is set, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack.
WHIPPED CREAM:
1 cup (more if desired) heavy whipping cream
Pinch superfine sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
While the shortcakes are cooling, whip the cream. Using a balloon whisk, whip the cream in a large bowl until it is thick, but not stiff. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract.
To serve, split the shortcakes in half. Ladle lots of strawberries on the bottom half, cover with the top half and spoon the whipped cream over.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 629 calories, 7 grams protein, 55 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 44 grams fat (27 grams saturated), 143 milligrams cholesterol, 18 grams sugar, 471 milligrams sodium.

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