I’ve seen strawberry shortcakes in many incarnations. I actually like ones made with sponge cake bases a lot, but to purists, a true strawberry shortcake is made with a shortcake, which is basically a sweetened American-style biscuit, similar in texture to a scone.
According to kitchenproject.com and gourmet.lovetoknow.com, the very first recipe for strawberry shortcake was from 1847, which makes this dessert old like the Industrial Revolution, but not old like the printing press.
Of course, when I hear the words strawberry shortcake, the cartoon character comes to mind. I was disgustingly obsessed with her when I was younger, often dreaming about her, scouring the shelves of Toys R Us for her. Later, in my early 20s, back when I had a much better metabolism and a greater propensity to shove really crappy processed foods down my throat, I was really keen on these strawberry shortcake rolls made by Little Debbie. I never made the correlation between the cartoon character the rolls until this VERY MOMENT, guys.
Anyway, that is my relationship with strawberry shortcake. All that said, here’s the recipe!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup butter, frozen
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 5 cups of strawberries, halved
- 1 tsp gelatin
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1½ pints of heavy whipping cream
- 10 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet.
- In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Grate frozen butter into the dry mixture and lightly toss.
- In a small bowl combine egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. The dough will be sticky.
- On a well floured surface, roll dough out until ⅝ inch thick. Cut with a 2.5-inch biscuit cutter (or use a small drinking glass). Reform scraps into a ball and reroll, taking care not to overwork the dough. You should have about 8 shortcakes.
- Place the shortcakes on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
- Add a teaspoon of the water to the gelatin to let it bloom for a minute.
- Add ½ cup of sugar, rest of the water water, and gelatin to strawberries in a medium pan on medium heat. Stir well. Let the mixture come to soft boil before taking off the heat. You want the berries to still retain their structure.
- Right before serving (after berries and shortcakes have come to room temperature), being careful not to splatter, whip the cream with the sugar until it achieves medium peaks.
- Fold in the chiffonade of basil into the mixture so it's well incorporated.
- Carefully split each shortcake in half with a fork.
- Spoon equal portions of the strawberry mixture over the shortcakes. Add whipped cream on over the strawberries, and top with the other top-half of the shortcake.
The inclusion of basil adds clean herbiness to counter all the SWEET-SWEET-SWEETNESS in this guy.