Dough made with a high fat-to-flour ratio is called “short” and bakes up into the tender crumbly biscuits we call shortcake. Although my mom sometimes brought home store-bought cell-o packs of little yellow sponge cakes to serve as the base for strawberry shortcake desserts, those were never as good fresh, hot biscuits topped with strawberries in their hot-pink sugared juice, and plenty of fresh whipped cream.
First featured in a British cookbook in 1588, strawberry shortcake went on to become very popular in the United States, where by the 1850s it was served hot with both butter, cream, and of course: sweetened fresh strawberries.
The recipe I’m sharing here is my favorite: easy-to-make sugared cream biscuits with macerated strawberries and whipped cream.
A word on strawberries: If you can find small, deep-red locally-grown berries at your farmers market, or pick them at a U-pick, do get those. They are intensely flavorful. If not? The larger organic strawberries shipped in from warmer States will work fine, too.
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled, washed
- ½ cup pure cane sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
- ¼ cup sifted powdered sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp sugar, divided (2 tablespoons for the batter; 1 Tbsp to sprinkle on the biscuits before baking)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt (or table salt)
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, plus a Tbsp for brushing the tops of the biscuits before baking
- Make the strawberry filling: Finely chop ½ of the berries into a large bowl. Using a potato masher, pestle, or heavy fork, crush the berries. Finely chop the rest of the berries and add to the bowl. Add ½ cup sugar and stir to blend well. Set aside to “macerate” while you make the whipped cream and biscuits. (Mixed with the sugar the berries will release their juice creating a pink syrup.)
- Make the whipped cream: In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl; whisk a bit more to incorporate. Cover and chill cream in the refrigerator.
- Set oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Sift flour with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder and salt, into a large mixing bowl. Add the cream and stir until the dough gathers. Remove dough to a clean working surface and knead for less than minute. Sprinkle work surface with light dusting of flour; shape dough into a round and lightly roll out to 3/4 inch thickness. Using a very small biscuit cutter, cut dough into rounds and place on the baking sheet. Brush tops of the biscuits lightly with cream; sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp of sugar. Bake in the preheated 400 degree oven until the biscuits are golden—about 20 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.
- To serve, split biscuits. Place each on a dessert plate. Top with berries, syrup and whipped cream. Eat while the biscuits are still hot.