Whaaat! Summer is over? Are you kidding? Noooooooo. My only consolation, apple season is just around the corner. Invariably I will walk out one day soon and notice the color changes and the slight chill in the air. There is an orange hue to the sunshine of a fall day different from the unrelenting bright hot sun of summer. The days get a little shorter and as the sun sets there is a cool crispness to the air that reminds me to break out my sweaters, my favorite apple recipes and my crockpot. But as an ode to the waning days of summer I thought I would share a favorite summer dessert. We picked up some beautiful peaches, nectarines and of course berries at the market. What better way to showcase the jewels of the season than shortcake. A buttery, tender pillow for our summer fruit bounty topped with a cloud of vanilla laced whipped cream. Yum.
Shortcakes are of course a riff on one of my favorite foods..biscuits. Yep think of them as biscuits on a sugar rush.
I have a tried and true shortcake recipe I found in Anthony Dias Blue’s America’s Kitchen. A beautiful and OLD (once again dating myself) cookbook that literally is a delicious tour of regional cooking in the good ole’ US of A. You could go to your supermarket and buy those spongey-like things in the cellophane wrappers that masquerade as shortcakes (really they remind me of Hostess Twinkies, eeww) or you could take a couple of minutes and whip up these easy and exponentially better tasting sweet biscuits-your call. If you do go the spongey cake route, don’t forget to pick up a can of “real” whipped cream to go along because it would be pointless to whip cream by hand.
Oh my I think I am hangry, let’s get to those shortcakes pronto.
These shortcakes are super quick and easy, especially if you have a food processor. If you don’t they can be made in a bowl with a pastry blender which would add just a couple of minutes.
Remember as with biscuits or pie crust, start with COLD ingredients. The butter should be well chilled as should be the heavy whipping cream. The whipping cream is what makes these biscuits really tender, they practically melt in your mouth.
Scatter the butter on the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Don’t worry if there are bits of butter (petite pea size) better to under process than over process. With the machine running add cream all at once.
With the machine running, add cream. Pulse until the dough starts to clump and then STOP! You will still see dry bits but that’s ok. Pour the mixture out on a flat surface, gather and knead the dough gently to bring it together. Roll it into a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick disc. Using a biscuit cutter approximately 3 inches in diameter cut out as many rounds and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
As your shortcakes are baking, prep your fruit and whip your cream. I slice my strawberries, sprinkle a touch of sugar on them and let them macerate a bit. Nothing better than strawberry juice soaking into those cakes.
Gotta be honest, I don’t follow a recipe to whip cream. I just add a touch of sugar and a dose of vanilla and whip until soft peaks form. Done…the best damn summer dessert..I’m out.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream not ultra-pasteurized
- 2 pints strawberries or any kind of berries or sliced peaches or nectarines, your choice
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In food processor fitted with metal blade, add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Pulse to mix.
- Add butter and pulse until dough has the consistency of cornmeal with some pea sized pieces of butter in it.
- With motor running add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, process until dough just starts to come together. Do not over-process!
- Place dough on flat surface, gather up dry bits and gently knead until dough forms a ball.
- Roll out dough to 3/4 inch thick slab.
- With a floured cutter, cut out 3 inch rounds and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake 10-12 minutes until light golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Add powdered sugar to strawberries and let sit to macerate. (I use a couple of teaspoons of granulated sugar instead)
- Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form and chill until ready to serve.
- To assemble: Split cooled shortcake in half. Place bottom on plate and cover with strawberries including some of the juice. Place a generous dollop of whipped cream on top of the berries and cover with top of shortcake. Dust with powdered sugar.
- Eat, preferably outside enjoying the last rays of summer