My little girl loves Strawberry Shortcake. Well, the dessert, but mainly the cute character I grew to love at the same age. I’m sure if her and I were the same age, we’d probably be friends as we share similar affinities.
Growing up we would regularly eat strawberry shortcakes in the summer. My dad was (and is) the fruit king. It wasn’t uncommon to find heaping amounts of peaches, nectarines, plums & cherries all at the same time in June & July, with a couple of trips to the market throughout the week. It’s no surprise my younger brother at age three consumed two whole watermelons in one sitting at our church’s watermelon bust. Frequently on a Sunday evening, my father would begin cutting up fruit for the BIG fruit salad as we sat around like seagulls awaiting our victory.
When it came time for strawberry shortcakes, I was designated strawberry huller. I must say that I am a veteran strawberry huller. I don’t mess around with the huller device, but a small paring knife, removing the stem & inner middle (not just chopping off the top–isn’t that a crime?). Unfortunately, our idea of shortcakes was the spongy prepackaged cakes. It’s interesting that I wasn’t completely fond of them as a kid. However, when I would taste various versions of biscuit shortcakes in former years, they were either dry, or felt like gravy should be the topping.
I had put off the search for a while, then shortly after Ben & I got married I came across this recipe thinking that it might just be the summer to redeem the strawberry shortcake. And folks, this is it. The lemon poppy seed version was first made two weeks ago, while I normally stick to the original cream version. They’re reminiscent of flaky, creamy English cream scones, except with more cream. And this isn’t time to watch your figure, but completely indulge in summer goodness of sweet, seasonal strawberries, flaky cream shortcakes & billows of freshly whipped cream. A perfect end to a fourth of July meal. You could easily make the original version (directions below) or put a spin on it with the lemon & poppy seed. Whatever you do–these should be on your menu this weekend (also try Heirloom Tomato & Watermelon Salad). What are some of your fourth of July food memories? Don’t forget to take part in the free giveaway!
Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortcakes (printable recipe)
This recipe is from Fine Cooking magazine. You can easily make these shortcakes as plain, by omitting the poppy seeds & lemon juice, and using 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream instead. Another option for the lemon poppy seed shortcakes is by using half strawberries & the other half blueberries.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tb granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tb baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tb lemon zest
6 ounces (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tb poppy seeds
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
5 cups sliced strawberries
1 – 2 Tb granulated sugar
For Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
2 Tb granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Shortcakes Directions: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt into a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and toss throughout the mixture. Cut the butter into the dry mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until the largest butter is the size of peas. Add the poppy seeds and mix around lightly.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the cream. Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened and just combined; it should look shaggy and still feel a little dry.
Gently knead by hand five or six times to pick up any dry ingredients remaining in the bottom of the bowl and to create a loose ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into an 8-inch square, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic to chill for 20 minutes.
While dough is chilling, Heat oven to 425. Remove dough from fridge & cut (using a sharp chef’s knife or bench knife) and cut into 9 squares. Space apart on parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush each shortcake with cream & sprinkle coarse sugar on top. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. When done, let cool at room temperature.
Strawberries: While shortcakes are baking, slice strawberries and place in bowl, along with one tablespoon of sugar. Mix together and allow to macerate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Whipped Cream: In a chilled bowl of an electric mixer with a chilled whisk, add cold whipped cream. Beat on high until it begins to thicken. Add vanilla & sugar, then continue beating till billowy, soft peaks form. **If you want lemon whipped cream, then add 2 Tb of lemon juice in place of vanilla.