Just the word itself conjures up visions of warm spring afternoons and the sweet fragrance of gleaming, sun-ripened berries.
Strawberries are the most familiar and best loved of berries. Pop one into your mouth whole and taste the succulent juice as you bite in. Fresh strawberries, sliced and stacked in layers between buttery-rich shortcakes, are nothing short of miraculous in their simplicity and homespun goodness.
There are a couple of simple tricks to making the best shortcake. Real butter, cut into the dry ingredients, but left in pieces of just the right size, gives both rich flavor and flakiness. A light touch with the kneading – just enough to combine all the ingredients and no more – yields the most melt-in-your mouth texture possible.
We experimented with many variations of shortcake to come up with this tender, citrus-flavored version. We also added a little Earthy Delights Balsamic Cream. Balsamic cream has much the same flavor as balsamic vinegar – but with a thicker consistency and a slightly sweeter, fruitier taste. It’s just the thing to bring out every last bit of a fresh strawberry’s best qualities.
One other small, but significant touch is worth mentioning. Large crystals of bourbon-smoked sugar were sprinkled on top of each shortcake just before baking, giving them the slightest hint of summer campfire flavor. We get this very special sugar from Bourbon Barrel Foods, who make it by smoking raw cane sugar crystals over a low fire made from the discarded oaken staves of used bourbon barrels.
Lemony Strawberry Shortcake
We like the subtle tart flavor and hint of dark chocolate that Earthy Delights Crema di Balsamico (Balsamic Cream) gives to the berries. If you can’t find it locally, you can order it from Earthy.com. You can also substitute a few drops of good balsamic vinegar if you prefer.
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour, more as needed
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup (1/4 lb or 1 stick) chilled butter, cut into chunks
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup buttermilk or 2/3 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice added
- 1 – 2 Tbsp Bourbon-smoked sugar (substitute raw sugar)
- 2 quarts strawberries, rinsed and hulled, at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp Earthy Delights Crema di Balsamico (Balsamic Cream)
- Lemony whipped cream for serving (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 400°.
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the butter is the size of small peas. Mix the yolks and buttermilk or milk/lemon juice to blend and stir in with a fork until the dough holds together.
Dust a work surface liberally with flour. Turn out the dough and gently knead about a dozen turns with floured hands, adding a little additional flour, if needed. Do not over-knead; the butter should still be in small pieces. Reflour the board and pat out dough 1 inch thick. Cut into 6 or 8 rounds with a floured biscuit cutter, bringing together the scraps and re-kneading and patting out as necessary. Place the cut shortcakes onto an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with a little bourbon-smoked or raw cane sugar.
Slip the pan into the pre-heated oven and bake the shortcakes until deep golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Set aside a few whole berries for garnishing the plates. Remove the stems from the remaining berries and slice into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Place the sliced berries into a bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon balsamic cream. Toss to coat and set aside to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, or up to an hour.
Split the shortcakes horizontally and place a bottom on each plate. Spoon a little of the lemony whipped cream onto each one and then add a generous layer of sliced berries. Spoon on a little more whipped cream, then finish with the shortcake tops. Garnish each plate with a whole berry split down the middle. Serve with additional whipped cream and sliced berries on the side.
Lemony whipped cream
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
In a large bowl, beat whipping cream & sugar at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the cream holds soft peaks, but is not stiff. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the top and fold in.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
For even more news, information and recipes, sign up for the free Earthy Delights email newsletter.