"I think next week will be the last week for strawberries."
That's what the guy at the farmer's market told me today as I bagged my half gallon of berries. So, all you fellow New Englanders, get them now! Local strawberries are different from the ones from California or Florida: smaller, more delicate, and red all the way through. Of course, all you need to enjoy them is a bowl -- no, I take that back, you don't need a bowl, but you do need a napkin. At any rate, you certainly don't need extra sugar or cream. But having made and eaten my first strawberry shortcake last Friday, I don't think I'll go another summer without one. There's just nothing like strawberries and cream, let alone bright red, juicy native strawberries and freshly whipped cream with real vanilla. And, of course, shortcake. I used this buttermilk shortcake recipe, which was lovely. (I use SACO cultured buttermilk blend.) Sadly, when I went to take a picture of my last, carefully guarded shortcake, I discovered that the batteries in my camera were dead. I guess I could have run out and bought new ones, but I didn't. I just grabbed a spoon and enjoyed.
Here's my version of the recipe:
For the Shortcake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3 tbs powdered buttermilk and 3/4 cup water)
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream:
1 pint whipping cream
4 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Make the shortcake: Combine the dry ingredients (including powdered buttermilk, if using) in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the liquid ingredients and pulse until the dough comes together.
Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or an ice cream scoop to drop dollops of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (They won't be neat.) Bake 15 minutes, or until golden.
Make the whipped cream: Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. (It will not be as stiff as commercial whipped cream.)
Just before serving, slice the shortcakes in half and top with whipped cream and strawberries. (I just put the components on the table and let my guests assemble their own.)
Yield: 10 shortcakes
Also recommended: David Lebovitz's Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (I commented on the recipe here) and strawberry cheesecake ice cream.
(Icon courtesy of A Veggie Venture)