Strawberries and short Biscuits

Strawberries and Short Biscuits

 

Spring!

Spring has at last arrived, and with it, strawberry season! There is nothing more pleasurable than the thought of savoring spring’s first luscious bounty of red juicy berries than scrumptious strawberry shortcake!

My favored, a farm style version from my childhood, fresh plucked berries from the garden tucked into and topping warm short biscuits right out of the oven nestled into a pool of full cream milk, straight from the barn and still warm. Hardly likely in today’s hygienically correct world, but I survived.

On that long ago Sunday morning,  following a hearty mid-day meal, a dozen or so amazing fresh strawberry shortcakes were unceremoniously  set out around the big kitchen table. For an impressionable young lad it was an ethereal moment that awakened an enduring sensory romance with all things about whole foods coming forth from the garden, pastures,  and barn, brought into and kitchen, transformed with a little cooking magic,  and delivered to the table for all to share, family style. 

 

Fresh Strawberries with Short Biscuits and Milk

Strawberries:

  • 1 pound/500g fresh strawberries, sliced in half, lengthwise
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar

Combine the berries and sugar and stir to coat the berries evenly with the sugar. Cover with cling film and chill until you are ready to serve.

Shortcake biscuits: Makes 8 biscuits 

Preheat oven to 425F/220C   Line a baking sheet with parchment  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoon sugar plus more for dusting
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup/4 oz unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing 

Homemade buttermilk:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 1/2  teaspoons white vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Add the vinegar or lemon juice to the milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

Add the flour, salt, 3 tablespoons sugar, and baking powder to a mixing bowl, and mix until combined . Add the chilled butter and cut it into the dry ingredients  using a fork until the mixture resembles a course meal. This will take a couple of minutes. Make a well in the center of the flour butter mixture and add the buttermilk and mix until well combined. The dough will be very soft and moist, as it should be.

For baking, choose a baking pan that will just hold the biscuits snugly if possible. No need to get fancy here about shape, but if you prefer individual biscuits, place  a 2 1/2 or 3 inch round cutter, lightly buttered on the inside, in the baking pan and mound the biscuit dough into the center of the cutter, nearly filling the cutter. No need to flatten the dough. Remove the cutter and place it next to biscuit you just made and repeat the same process. Placing the biscuits in close proximity will encourage a better rise when baking. The biscuits will also spread into each other while baking. Otherwise, just spread the dough to fill the whole baking pan. You can cut it into squares after they are baked.

Once the biscuits are ready for baking, brush the tops with melted butter and dust with sugar.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. The biscuits should be barely colored. Remove from the oven and separate the round biscuits  using a pairing knife, or cut the whole pan of biscuit into squares. Transfer to a cooling rack until ready to serve.

Milk:

  • 1 quart/or liter of whole milk, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup full cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the milk, cream, and vanilla and set aside to come to room temperature.

Serving: Slice the biscuits in half crosswise using a serrated bread knife . Place the bottom half of the biscuit in a serving bowl and pile sliced berries on top. Place the top of the biscuit on top of the berries and spoon on more sliced berries on top. Pour the prepared milk around the shortcake and serve. The milk will soften the biscuit and make the whole experience farm style comfort food perfect.

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