Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, May 1997
Serves 6

Strawberry Shortcake 

For the biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbl baking powder
3 Tbl plus 2 Tbl sugar, divided
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 egg white, beaten

Preheat the oven to 425ᵒF and position the rack in the lower middle position.

Whisk to combine the flour, salt, baking powder and 3 Tbl sugar in a medium mixing bowl.  Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the frozen butter and add to the flour mixture.  Use a pastry cutter to thoroughly press the butter into the flour mixture, working until the butter pieces are all the size of split peas.  (If you don’t have a pastry cutter, quickly rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips.)

Mix the beaten egg with the half-and-half.  Pour into the flour mixture, and toss with a fork until large clumps of dough form.  Turn the dough mixture onto a clean, dry work surface and knead lightly until it comes together. 

Pat or roll the dough into a rectangle of about 9 by 6-inches and about 3/4-inch thick, sprinkling with a touch of flour, if needed.  Using a circular cutter of about 2 1/4-inch diameter, cut the dough into 6 t0 8 circles.  (Then you can re-knead the scraps and cut one or two more rounds, but these will turn out a little tougher and not as pretty as the first ones.)  Place the cut rounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1-inch apart.   

Brush the tops of the dough rounds with the egg white, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar.  Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Fresh-Baked Biscuits

For the strawberry topping:
3 pints strawberries
6 Tbl sugar

Rinse the strawberries in cool running water, then drain and pat dry.  Remove the leaves and cut out the core.  Cut the strawberries in 1/4-inch slices, slicing from top to bottom. 

Transfer the sliced strawberries to a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss to coat with the sugar.  Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour, to encourage the strawberries to release their juices.  Cover and refrigerate until needed – Can be made about four hours ahead.

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbl sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip the cream to soft peaks (When you stick a spoon into the cream and lift it out, a point will form then droop down after a second or two).  Add sugar and vanilla and whip to firm peaks (The point formed in the cream will stand straight up and not fall over).

To assemble the dessert:
Split each cake apart cross-wise.  Spoon a generous scoop of strawberries over the bottom half, and then a dollop of whipped cream.  Cap with the top half of the biscuit.  Serve immediately.




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