Good ‘ol strawberry shortcake is a dessert that I’ve loved my entire life. When my brother and I were kids in 1970s Texas, we’d stir up some Bisquik drop biscuits, split them open when warm, and pile them high with fresh sliced summer strawberries macerated in plenty of sugar (a process that draws out all those delectable strawberry juices), and topped with big dollops of Cool Whip. Yep, let’s not forget that I grew up in the 70s…it’s a wonder the strawberries weren’t canned! (Not that my mom, who had the only organic vegetable garden and compost pile in 1970s Dallas would have allowed that!)
Fast forward to my college years, when my folks moved to Boise, Idaho and I had a summer job working the bar and dessert station at the Brick Oven Beanery. There, I made a mean lemon meringue milkshake and incredible from-scratch strawberry shortcakes (while serving up plenty of beer and homemade lemonade!). We macerated the strawberries in triple sec, and the shortcakes and whipped cream were made in house.
I don’t make strawberry shortcake very often these days, so when I do, I want it to be amazing, and I don’t want to mess with the traditional ingredients. I like my shortcake in the form of a drop biscuit, not overly sweet, with plenty of fresh, peak-of-season berries, and billows of vanilla-scented whipped cream. Change it up with different summer fruits like blackberries or sliced nectarines if you like…but I’ll just stick to the classic thank you.
Recipe: Classic Strawberry Shortcake
Makes 12 shortcakes
- 1 1/2 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a bowl, stir together the strawberries, 1/3 cup sugar, and vanilla bean seeds and pod. Set aside while you make the shortcakes and whipped cream.
- To make the shortcakes, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the buttermilk and melted butter and gently stir until the flour is just moistened and the ingredients are thoroughly blended. (Do not overmix.) Drop 12 equal-sized blobs of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them an inch or so apart. Bake until the shortcakes are golden and puffed, 15–18 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a mixer using a whisk attachment (or using a handheld whisk), beat the cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla extract until thick and billowy. Do not overwhip or the cream will become grainy.
- To serve, split a shortcake and place the base on a dessert plate. Top with a heaping spoonful of strawberries with the juices, some whipped cream, and the top of the shortcake (cut side down). Top with a few more berries and a dollop of cream and serve. Repeat to make as many strawberry shortcakes as you like. Freeze any extra shortcakes in a freezer bag for up to 3 months; thaw at room temperature and toast in the oven to warm through before using.