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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

I awoke early this morning with hopes of going to get a few last minute things for my trip next week.  Upon telling my mom that I was going out, she had other plans.  Instead of granting me permission to leave, she showed me a video on the news of people already drinking before 10 AM.  Being the slightly-overprotective-at-times mother that she is, she forbade me to drive on St. Patrick’s day, for fear that I would have a run in with any of these people.  Not only could I not drive myself, but she would not be home to drive me anywhere.  With nothing else to do, of course, my thoughts shifted to baking.  I hadn’t baked in a while, and we did happen to have some beautiful strawberries, so I decided on Strawberry Shortcakes.  No, they aren’t green, so feel free to pinch me, but if only you could have tried them I guarantee you’d reconsider.  I found the recipe in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, the cookbook for a bakery in New York called Sweet Melissa Patisserie.  The recipe was quite easy, and soo good.

Strawberry Shortcakes

Melissa Murphy

Makes 6 Shortcakes.

For the Shortcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar plus 1 tablespoon for glazing

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream, for glazing

For the Strawberries:

1 dry quart fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced

3 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)

For the Whipped Cream:

1 cup cold heavy cream

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Before you Start:

Position a rack in the center of your oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchement paper or aluminum foil.

To make the Shortcakes:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the zest.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal.  Little by little, stir in heavy cream until the dough starts to hold together (you may use a bit more cream if need be).

2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Pat together to form a rectangle 5 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches long that is about 1 inch thick.  Cut the long side of the dough into thirds, and the width in half to form six 2 1/2-inch squares.  Place the shortcakes 3 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

3. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with the milk or heavy cream and sprinkles with he remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Remove to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

While the shortcakes are cooling, prepare the strawberries.  In a medium bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with the sugar.  Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to macerate.

To Make the Whipped Cream:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the heavy cream and vanilla on medium speed.  In a slow steady stream, add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms medium-stiff peaks.

The whipped cream is best used when just made, but can be refrigerated in an airtight container overnight and beaten again just before serving.

To Complete the Shortcakes:

Fork split each shortcake in half horizontally.  Place one half on each of six plates.  Spoon 2 tablespoons of berries on each.  Top each with a large dollop of whipped cream.  Spoon more berries on top.  Place each of the remaining halves on top of the berries.  Garnish with more cream and berries, if desired.  Add a sprig of mint for garnish, if you’d like.

Pro Tip:

When whipping cream, the colder the cream the better.  If the bowl, the whisk or beaters, and the heavy cream are all well chilled, you will achieve the most volume.

Prepare the strawberries and whipped cream no more than 30 minutes before serving.  The shortcakes are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 3 weeks.  Do not unwrap before defrosting.

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