First strawberries. Shortcake, southern-style. Summer begins.
Monroe Organic Farm brought the first strawberries of the season. Sweet, yet delicately so, their perfect texture is a stark contrast from the year-round styrofoam balls that usually pass as strawberries. The first temptation is always to simply devour them all, but cooler heads prevailed. Our house is lucky enough to have a baker in residence (“The Baker”), and she whipped up a batch of old school southern-style buttermilk biscuits – the only true basis for strawberry “shortcake.” The biscuit recipe comes from my Georgia grandmother, and has been handed down in my family for at least four generations.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 shortening (classically Crisco)
- 1 cup buttermilk
Sift together dry ingredients. These next steps take a light touch: Cut in shortening until there are “no pieces bigger than a pea.” Stir in buttermilk evenly. Turn on to a well-floured pastry cloth and knead ten times (I kid you not). Roll out to 1/2 – 3/4″ thickness, the use can or cutter to create 2 – 3″ rounds. Set oven to 450 degrees. Bake about 15 minutes on baking sheet until golden brown. If you are a wizard these will rise almost impossibly, and mortals must settle for a mildly risen yet succulent biscuit.
The strawberries themselves are simply sliced and a tiny bit of sugar added, then left to “macerate” (as a food writer might say), releasing delectible juices.
Split still warm biscuits, spoon over strawberries, and top with fresh whipped cream. Perfection.