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How to Make Fancy Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcake

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

Biscuit Shortcake

Ingredients

3 cups just-add-water biscuit mix
2 large eggs
milk or cream
1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

  • Measure the mix into a medium bowl.
  • Add the eggs to a 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough milk to make just over 3/4 cup of liquid.
  • Add the sugar and whisk the liquids and sugar together.
  • Make the biscuits per package directions.
  • To assemble your strawberry shortcakes, slice the strawberries into thin slices using a strawberry slicer and toss them with a little sugar. Split the shortcake open with a fork and lay one split biscuit on each plate. Spoon strawberries over the shortcakes and top with flavored whipped cream.
  • These are best served fresh.
  • Notes

    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)

    Ingredients

    2 cups pastry or unbleached all purpose flour
    3 tablespoons sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 cup cold butter cut in pieces
    2 large eggs whisked with 3 tablespoons of cold milk added

    Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry knife or two sharp knives. Keep cutting until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
  • Add the egg and milk mixture. Stir until the dry ingredients are moistened but not smooth. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured counter and roll or pat the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch circles or squares and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops begin to turn brown.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • Notes

    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

    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

    Ingredients

    2 cups whipping cream
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 teaspoon butterscotch flavor

    Instructions

  • Whip the cream to soft peaks.
  • Add the sugar and flavor and continue whipping.
  • Notes

    Lemon Cloud Whipped Cream

    Ingredients

    2 cups whipping cream
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons lemon flavor
    1 tablespoon lemon zest

    Instructions

  • Whip the cream to soft peaks.
  • Add the sugar, flavor, and zest and continue whipping.
  • Notes

    Caramel Whipped Cream

    Ingredients

    2 cups whipping cream
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 teaspoon caramel flavor

    Instructions

  • Whip the cream to soft peaks.
  • Add the sugar and flavor and continue whipping.
  • Notes

    Chocolate Whipped Cream

    Ingredients

    2 cups whipping cream
    1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1/2 cup granulated sugar or to taste
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Instructions

  • Whip the cream until soft peaks form. (See tips in the next section.)
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave for one minute at high heat, stir, and continue heating until melted.
  • Let the chocolate cool for three to five minutes. The chocolate should be warm and still liquid but not hot.
  • Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate.
  • Stir the chocolate mixture and the extract (along with the sugar, if used) into the remaining whipped cream.
  • Notes

    Dennis Weaver is the author of How to Bake, over 60 e-books, and thousands of food and baking articles. Most of these are available free at The Prepared Pantry.

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