I feel like I should apologize for not having these up on the site until now. I’m sorry. I know there are bigger things in the world to feel sorry about, but I feel a bit sorry nonetheless.
Strawberry shortcakes are for sure the most Spring-ish dessert I can think of. If you can find wild strawberries, or at the very least really flavorful ones from a farmers’ market, this is nothing short of heavenly.
Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits
The biscuit dough is quite crumbly, which is by intention. As long as it can hold together when you pat it into a rectangle, there is enough moisture in it.
When you cut the biscuits, cut them as close together as you can, with as little dough left behind on the cutting board as possible. Yes, you can roll the scraps up and cut out another couple of circles, but the more you handle the dough the less tender it becomes, so try and get as many biscuits out of the original rectangle as possible.
The tops of the biscuits are brushed with a bit more half and half or milk, and sprinkled with sugar before they go into the oven, resulting in a beautifully browned and slightly crunchy top. If you can find coarse or demerara sugar, use that. The raw sugar you see in the market is perfect.
Make biscuits with some height to them, as you will be cutting them horizontally and then filling them with the strawberries and cream.
How to Assemble Strawberry Shortcake
I like a double decker strawberry shortcake:
Biscuit plus strawberries.
Then whipped cream.
Top with the second half of the biscuit.
More whipped cream.
I think we can all agree that this looks fairly attractive. Ok, it looks gorgeous. I’ll say it.
The addition of sour cream to the whipped cream comes at the suggestion of Mandy Maxwell, my friend, assistant and trained pastry chef. I think it’s genius – it adds more richness and body to the whipped cream, and gives the whole thing a whole other layer of lushness.
The idea of layering two uncooked biscuits rounds one on top of the other before baking, with a light slick of melted butter in between the two, came from the amazing recipe writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins, who used this technique in her biscuit recipe for strawberry shortcakes in The New York Times. In 1986! This make them pull apart more easily, but also gives them another subtle layer of butteriness. Thank you, Nancy, and thank you, internet.
How to Make Strawberry Shortcake
Once you mix up the biscuit, dough, turn the mixture onto a lightly floured surface.
Pat it out into a rectangle about ¾ inch thick.
Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits, cutting them as close to together as possible. If you dip the biscuit cutter in flour in between each biscuit cutting, it will help prevent sticking.
Press the biscuit cutter down and pull it straight up, without twisting, which will hinder their rising as they bake.
You can slice the berries and combine them with 2 tablespoons of the sugar up to an hour ahead of time. This pulls out the natural juices, and then forms something of a syrup.
Other Classic Dessert Recipes:
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Classic Strawberry Shortcake
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour , sifted
- 8 tablespoons granulated sugar , divided
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter , cut into small cubes
- ¾ cup half and half or whole milk
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 2 pints (4 cups) fresh strawberries , sliced
For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy cream , chilled
- 2 tablespoons sour cream , crème fraiche or mascarpone (optional)
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Very lightly flour a clean counter or work surface.
- Combine the flour with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or use your fingers to rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Alternately you can pulse the butter into the flour mixture in a food processor, stopping when it reaches the coarse crumb texture.
- Add the half and half or milk and stir just barely combined. Turn the mixture onto the lightly floured surface. Use your hands to lightly mix the dough just until it barely holds together. Pat it out into a circle or a rectangle about ½-inch thick.
- Use a 3-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out the shortcakes, keeping them as close together as possible to minimize extra dough. Make sure you use a sharp biscuit cutter vs. a glass, and press down and pull straight up, without twisting; twisting will hinder their rising as they bake. If you dip the biscuit cutter in flour in between each biscuit cutting, it will help prevent sticking. You can collect the scraps and re-pat them out into a ¾ inch disk and cut out another 2 or 3 when you are done. Try to handle the dough as little as possible.
- Brush a baking sheet with some of the melted butter. Transfer half of the biscuits to a baking sheet. Brush the tops with a bit of the melted butter. Place the rest of the biscuits on top of the buttered biscuits, and brush the top with a bit more of the melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the shortcakes.
- Bake for about 15 minutes until light golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Meanwhile put the berries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar or to taste. Toss with a fork, and lightly crush some of the berries so you have some different textures going on and some of the juices are released. This will also help keep the berries from slipping and sliding on the shortcakes.
- Once the berries are macerating, make the whipped cream. Place the heavy cream, sour cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a clean bowl (if you chill it first, the cream will whip up faster), or the bowl of a standing mixer outfitted with the whisk insert.
- Use a whisk or a handheld electric mixer on high speed to beat the cream, moving it all around the bowl, until it starts to form stiff peaks (or turn on the standing mixer). Stop beating at this point – overbeating can cause the cream to separate. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Just before serving cut each biscuit crosswise so you have a top half and a bottom half. Place the bottoms halves on plates, layer on some strawberries, then some whipped cream, replace the top of the shortcake, then spoon over some more strawberries and whipped cream. Serve immediately.
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