Red White and Blue Shortcakes

Strawberry ShortcakesGrowing up, and still to this day, my mom always made Strawberry Shortcakes with those prepackaged store-bought cakes. You know—the ones they stack right next to the display of strawberries. Those unnaturally golden sponges so laden with preservatives they could survive a nuclear holocaust. Essentially Twinkies without the cream filling. Well, these shortcakes here aren’t my mom’s Strawberry Shortcakes. These are the real thing. The way a Strawberry Shortcake should be. A baking powder biscuit, tangy with buttermilk, sweetened with a little bit of sugar, and laced with a bright pop of lemon zest throughout. It’s the perfect vessel to soak up all the delicious sweet juice of the berry mixture. It practically screams light summertime dessert. (Light in essence. Not necessarily in calories.)

I’ve wanted to make Strawberry Shortcakes for awhile now, so I thought, what better time to try it out than for the 4th! Instead of just strawberries, I could throw in some blueberries too and make it patriotic! With all the fresh berries coming into season, it’s the perfect summer treat. And it’s so easy to put together. The dough comes together very quickly, and the berry mixture and whipped cream can both be made while the biscuits are baking. Or grab a can or tub of whipped cream at the store and skip one step entirely! Just a note though--My dough ended up quite wet and sticky, rather than shaggy, making it really hard to press it into a rectangle without a LOT of extra flour. I don’t know whether that was my fault or the recipe’s, but next time if it comes out that wet again, I may just scoop it onto the baking sheet with an ice cream scoop for a very rustic look and save myself a bit of trouble. But other than that one tiny hang-up, everything else was a breeze, and the end result was fabulous!

So while you’re enjoying your holiday weekend—barbecuing in the backyard, running around with sparklers, chasing lightning bugs, and finally settling in to watch the skies light up with fireworks, take the time to try some Red White and Blue Shortcakes too. Happy 4th of July!

Strawberry ShortcakesRed White and Blue Shortcakes
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book
Makes 6 servings

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon lemon zest, from 1 lemon
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream, for brushing
16 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into slices
6 ounces blueberries
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt until well blended. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the butter pieces are no larger than peas. Add the buttermilk and vanilla, and gently toss with a fork or spatula until the flour is just moistened and the ingredients are blended. The dough will appear shaggy.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a thick rectangle about 6 by 4 inches. Trim the edges even with a sharp knife, and then cut the dough into 6 equal 2-inch squares. Place the squares onto an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Brush the top of each square with heavy cream and sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar or granulated sugar. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
3. While shortcakes are baking, toss strawberries, blueberries, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of sugar with a fork, lightly crushing some of the berries. Cover and refrigerate until the berries are chilled.
4. While berries are chilling, make whipped cream. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whip cream on medium speed until thickened, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to high and gradually add confectioners’ sugar while whipping. Add the vanilla extract and continue to whip until soft peaks form.
5. To serve, split the shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom halves, cut side up, on a serving plate. Spoon some of the berry mixture, including the juices, over each half and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Top with the remaining shortcake halves, cut side down. Serve immediately.
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sarahe said...

they look perfect! I've never understood those golden store-bought shortcakes...my mom always made a bisquick shortcake which is quite yummy, but I loved the Dorie version we did recently for TWD. I bet your family will love the real thing for this holiday!

Kiesha Jenkins-Duffy said...

We always got those shortcakes AND the bags of strawberry goo that looked like plasma. SOO sugary sweet. And then a couple of strawberries as an after thought.

I've never been able to replicate that goo. And I want it. Because I've come to realize that I don't really care for fresh strawberries.

oneordinaryday said...

Just perfect! I like that you added blueberries to make it perfect for the 4th.

Ingrid said...

Mmmmm, they look good. Perfect in fact. I do not like when the shortcake is overly browned.

Happy 4th!

Lisa said...

They look delicious! And, you're blog writing is wonderful as usual. (Despite what you say, you are very good at it!)

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