Kitchen tools, gourmet foods, baking mixes, and hard-to-find baking ingredients mentioned in this article are available at The Prepared Pantry.
by Dennis Weaver
I don't know when I've enjoyed strawberries as much as I have this season. The berries have been exceptional. (In our area, Sam's Club has had great strawberries.) I've eaten them plain, had them for breakfast with milk and sugar, and made desserts. The strawberry pies have been fantastic but my favorite way to showcase strawberries is with strawberry shortcakes. I make classic shortcakes and top them with berries and then flavored whipped cream. They're always a hit. We've served them at our store in Rigby, Idaho, and heard, "Best strawberry shortcake I've ever had."
Classic shortcakes are biscuit-like but richer. They are made with eggs and sugar and cream or milk. But they are crisp like a biscuit and we love the crisp biscuit against the succulent strawberries and the soft whipped cream. It's like making a strawberry pie with a good, crisp crust but less work.
And we love to tinker with the whipped cream. No spray cans here. We dump a carton of whipping cream in the bowl of our stand-type mixer and whip away with the whip attachment. Maybe we'll sweeten it with brown sugar instead of granulated and we'll experiment with flavors adding a flavor other than vanilla. Caramel and butterscotch whipped cream is outstanding with strawberries but maybe we like Lemon Cloud Whipped Cream even better.
We use these flavored whipped creams on not just on strawberries but on any dessert that calls for a whipped cream topping. Usually we just scour through the cupboard to see what sounds good with whatever we're making. You can use almost any flavor and can even make chocolate whipped cream. You'll see how in this article.
(There is an amazing array of flavors available once you get outside your grocery store. I just counted what's in the cupboard in our test kitchen—44 different flavors.)
But back to our shortcakes. You can make them from scratch or you can use a biscuit mix and "doctor" it. Here's how you would doctor a just-add-water biscuit mix to make classic shortcakes:
How to Make Shortcakes from a Biscuit Mix
With the extra sugar, the biscuits will brown a little quicker. We turn the temperature down 25 degrees and watch the time. They'll usually come out a minute or two earlier than what the package says even with the temperature down.
A full-size biscuit cutter makes for a large strawberry shortcake. Try making some mini biscuits about an inch-and-a-half in diameter for a more standard sized serving.
Classic Shortcake Recipe (Scratch)
Note: Like biscuits, working the dough too much will leave the product tough, not melt-in-your-mouth tender.
What You'll Need
If you are making your shortcakes with a biscuit mix, you won't need much. Of course, we use our own just-add-water biscuit mix but then, we think any good biscuit mix will do.
A strawberry slicer makes nice neat slices in a hurry. Once you've used one, you'll never go back to cutting strawberries with knife.
For the flavored whipped cream, you'll need flavors. The best selection of flavors is found at The Prepared Pantry. We sell commercial flavors, those that professional bakers use, and package them in our facility.
How to Make Flavored Whipped Cream
Never settle for plain whipped cream. It's so easy to make very special whipped cream. Often it's as simple as adding a flavor to the whipped cream. Sometimes you'll want to sweeten your whipped cream with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. We often add lemon zest to lemon whipped cream and orange zest to orange whipped cream. The zest adds a little flavor and the colored flecks are pretty.
Here are some sample recipes to get you started. You will find outstanding and hard-to-find flavors at our store.
Butterscotch Whipped Cream
Lemon Cloud Whipped Cream
Caramel Whipped Cream
Chocolate Whipped Cream
Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry, a full line kitchen store in Rigby, Idaho. The Prepared Pantry sells kitchen tools, gourmet foods, and baking ingredients including hundreds of hard-to-find ingredients.