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Strawberry Shortcakes

This is actually a variation of my English scone recipe. The flavor and texture is very different to the standard American biscuit that's normally used for strawberry shortcake. For 4th of July I cut the dough into one large star shape (make a template from paper - it doesn't have to be perfect), baked the star and the leftover side pieces, cooled and then split the shortcake. Decorate each half with strawberries and blueberries and finish with sweetened whipped cream

These shortcakes are truly heavenly and the word short comes from the amount of butter and cream in the shortcakes which give them their 'melt in the mouth' taste. Please make them according to the recipe the first time and savor the incredible texture and taste. See Notes below.

Ingredients

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • stick (2oz) butter
  • c white sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2/3 - 1 c (or more) half and half or cream
  • pinch of salt
  • (2 tbsp. flour)
  • 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract mixed in with egg and cream - optional

Method

1. Sift flour and baking powder together in an 8c mixing bowl that is preferably wide and shallow.

2. Add butter. Rub butter into flour using your fingertips until mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can put flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in food processor and add hard butter straight from the fridge. Let food processor rub in butter, empty mix into ordinary mixing bowl and then continue with recipe. Don't try and make complete dough in food processor, it will overwork the dough. )

3. Stir in sugar and salt, then add all but 1-2 tbsps. of the cream with the egg and vanilla/almond. Stir with a knife or wooden spoon to form a SOFT dough not a dry pie crust. Add remaining liquid if mix is too dry, or add the 2 tbsp. flour if mix is too wet. Knead the dough 3-4 times very softly to bring together.

4. Put ball of dough on lightly floured board and gently pat this quantity out to a 7-8" circle (no bigger). Do not try to make a bigger circle. It is important to keep dough this thick to ensure shortcakes will rise high enough.

5. Cut out using a 2" cookie cutter by pressing straight down, not twisting, so shortcakes rise evenly. If you don't have cutters, dip a glass in flour and use as a cutter. Otherwise you can cut it into 6 or 8 wedges. Place separate pieces about 1" apart on a lightly floured baking sheet. Shortcakes can be brushed with milk and lightly sprinkled with sugar.

6. Bake in 425* oven for about 20-24 minutes until shortcakes are well risen, light golden brown and sound hollow underneath when tapped on the base. When split open, they should look fluffy and light, not dense and compressed. Adjust time according to your oven, size of shortcake and type of baking sheet. Black or dark colored baking sheets will cook quicker on the bottom and can too easily over cook. I use my stoneware pizza stone.

7. Remove from oven, cool slightly. Split in half. I like to slice the strawberries and sprinkle with sugar and leave for several hours or overnight until juice is formed.

8. Spoon strawberries and juice over shortcake halves and finish lavishly with whipped cream.

Whip one cup of heavy or whipping cream until stiff with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur, orange liqueur or brandy.

Notes

The shortcakes will be excellent as long as you follow the rules:

1. Do be gentle with the dough, you are making edible dough not play dough, so handle the dough as little as possible.

2. Don't pat or roll out bigger than directed, you'll end up with shoe leather and that's a waste of your time and money.

Any leftover 'empty' shortcakes are good split and toasted, or just microwaved the next day. They keep well in a Ziploc for a few days.



PLEASE NOTE THAT SUBSTITUTIONS AND DIFFERENT METHODS WILL AFFECT FINAL TASTE.
© 2000-2006 Royal Temptations


Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, offers Catering services, teaches a variety of classes in International Cooking, makes regular appearances on WMUR ABC Channel 9's Cooks' Corner and has her own series on Merrimack TV and on Manchester TV. You can contact Oonagh at 603-424-6412.
 
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