For Iowans, the first shortcake of the season is always with hot biscuits, always with mashed berries, always with cream and most importantly, not dessert but "dinner".
When the first ripe-as-jewel local strawberries become available, the family script for shortcake is fixed.
Shortcake is supper, nothing else. We are allowed – no, expected – to gorge. Diet protestations are futile. Failure to indulge has serious consequence: no return invitation.
The first of two acts is Iowa Shortcake, hot biscuits doused with mashed berries and cream, lots of berries, lots of cream.
The second act is – hhmmmm. Feast on this, then we’ll talk. If you’re worthy.
IOWA SHORTCAKE Gently mash a half-cup sugar into a quart of bite-size berries: perfect, home-grown strawberries are traditional but blueberries, blackberries and others are extraordinary. Let rest at room temperature for 2 – 3 hours, pressing occasionally. Stir in a second quart of berries just before serving. To serve, place the bottom half of a hot biscuit in a bowl and spread with butter. Cover with a generous portion of berries, then the top half of the biscuit. Pour half-and-half (or even cream) over the biscuit. Keep half-and-half available for adding more as it soaks into the berries and biscuit.
BEST SHORTCAKE BISCUITS
Time to table: 25 minutes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour fluffed to aerate before measuring or 250g
- 1 scant teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon (yes, tablespoon) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons cold butter (leave in fridge until needed)
- 1 scant cup non-fat yogurt
Preheat oven to 450F. Lightly butter a baking sheet.
Stir the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. (Hints: While the flour's out, keep it handy for later. Have the yogurt ready before proceeding too because from here on, work quickly, for the colder the butter when the biscuits reach the oven, the better the ‘crumb’, that's the biscuit-perfect texture.)
Dice butter. (To dice, cut stick into fourths lengthwise. Turn, repeat. Then cut crosswise.) With both hands, work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until coarsely, not finely, mixed.
Gently stir in the yogurt. Form into a sticky ball, turn onto lightly floured surface. Gently knead about 10 times. (Add flour if you must but the more flour, the heavier the biscuits.)
Press dough about one inch thick. Cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter, transfer to the baking sheet. Reshape leftover dough and cut additional biscuits. (Cut as many as possible the first time for those biscuits will be more tender.)
Bake immediately for 7 – 9 minutes or until tall and golden. Alternatively, freeze biscuits for 30 – 60 minutes before baking but the biscuits won’t be quite so light.
A Family Tradition
The son of Iowans, my nephew Alex is a big fan of Strawberry Shortcake Iowa-Style, sweet biscuits with strawberries and cream. I believe that Alex is the fifth generation of Kelloggs to adore this early-summer tradition!
Tis Strawberry Season!
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