Friday, March 29, 2013

Recipe: Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

I was on the Friday Five at the Western Fictioneers blog (check it out!) and one of the questions was what's my favorite food.  I said strawberry shortcake--with real shortcakes, real strawberries, and real whipped cream.  So here's the recipe.

Okay, sorta.  The thing is, we didn't go by official recipes--we just cooked.  That's how my mom did it so that's how I learned.  First you slice or mash fresh strawberries, then make the shortcakes (this is not sponge cake!!!), and while the shortcakes are baking, you make the whipped cream.

Some people like them whole, some like them sliced, and some like them semi-mashed (use a potato masher--all of us in Idaho have them).  If the strawberries are field-ripened, you probably won't need to add sweetener.  If not, throw in sugar, honey, or agave syrup (my favorite) to taste and mix.  Cover and put in the refrigerator.

Turn the oven on to 425 degrees.  Grease and flour a baking pan or line with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix:
4 cups flour (I use spelt and it's marvelous)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. baking powder
1 scant tsp. salt

Work in 2 cubes of softened butter into the dry ingredients until the flour lumps are about marble-size.  Use your fingers--this is a food of love.

Put in a little vanilla to taste.  Let's say 1 teaspoon.  Pour in a cup of milk and stir.  If that's not enough, but in more.  Depends on the humidity in the air and flour, what type of flour you use, and all that.

When all ingredients are mixed slightly--remember, food of love, be gentle and don't over mix or overwork--turn out onto a floured board.  Flour your hands and sprinkle a little flour on the dough.  Pat out to 3/4" thick, and make sure the sides are nice and even.  Cut out shortcakes 2" or more.  I use a short, fat glass (for old-fashioneds).  Place about 1/2" apart in the baking pan.

Bake for about 20 minutes, more or less, depending on the size of the shortcakes and your oven.  All ovens are different.

Whipped Cream
My dad preferred to pour heavy cream on his, but I like whipped cream better.  Don't ruin your fabulous shortcakes by using Cool Whip.  Save that for the Jell-O salad.

1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Pour cream in mixer bowl.  Turn mixer on medium until you get a little air in the cream; otherwise, you'll have splatters all over the kitchen.  Once the cream gets a little fluffy, turn the mixer on high and slowly drizzle the sugar in.  Then put in the vanilla.  Whip until stiff.

Final Assembly
Split the hot shortcake horizontally.  On the lower half, spoon on some strawberries, and a dollop of whipped cream.  Place the upper half of the shortcake on it and add more strawberries and more whipped cream.

Everyone will love it, and you'll be considered the best cook ever.  So sit back and take the compliments gracefully.  You don't have to tell anyone how easy it is.

Hearts of Owyhee  series

Jacquie Rogers 
Romancing The West