It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is right, it is finally strawberry season. Sure you can get grocery store strawberries that lack flavour and cost a fortune, but right now is the time of year they taste the juiciest, and cost the least. I will be making jam soon, and maybe I will blog about that in a week or two, but the first treat I am always looking forward to is strawberry shortcake. It never tastes as good as when you can use the local fresh berries, absolutely delicious. It was always what I asked my mom for on my birthday, June 24th. Although that was with her spectacular angel food cake, which maybe should be my next post as we really should capitalize on this most wonderful season. Today however it is all about the sweet biscuits. I love making these to eat warm with jam or honey butter, but it is even better when used to make strawberry shortcake. These biscuits also freeze well so you can save any leftover, if there are any, for another quick dessert a different night.
Start by washing, hulling, and halving the strawberries. Then place them into a large bowl.
Sprinkle granulated sugar over the berries and then using a fork, or pastry cutter, gently crush the berries. You don’t want to mush them all the way up, we aren’t making jam, you just want to crush them into smaller pieces and allow the berries to macerate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. If you start with this step by the time the biscuits are ready the berries will have had enough time to mellow with the sugar and get all juicy.
To make the biscuits start by placing all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients to make sure they are fully incorporated.
Once the dry ingredients are mixed it is time to grate in the frozen butter. It can just be really cold, but I find the best results come with butter that has frozen.
Now using your fingertips gently rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks coarse and crumbly. There should still be visual pieces of butter in the mixture. Now mix all the remaining wet ingredients and make a well in the middle of the flour/butter mixture.
Slowly pour about 1/3 of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. The dough should look shaggy, and will most likely need at least another 1/3 of the wet ingredients. Add just enough liquid so that the dough holds together in a ball. I used 3/4 of the wet ingredients, but if you need all of it for the dough to hold go ahead.
Once the biscuit dough is ready, grease a cast iron pan, or two if yours aren’t very big. You can also make these on parchment lined baking sheets, I just think the best results come when they are baked snuggly all together.
On a very lightly floured counter top, shape the dough into a rough rectangle.
Then fold one side to the middle, then the other side over top to create a rough letter fold. I find doing it this way results in more layered and fluffy biscuits.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 1/2 – 3/4″ inch thickness, then using a 3″ circular cookie cutter cut out as many biscuits as possible. With the leftover scraps I usually squish them together to make one mis-shaped but still delicious biscuit, no wasting here.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place all the cut out biscuits into the prepared cast iron pans then set to the side while you prepare the egg wash.
Place the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon of water into a small bowl, whisk until completely combined. Then using a pastry brush, generously brush the top of each biscuit with the egg wash.
After the biscuits have all been egg washed, I like to add a little sprinkle of coarse sugar to the top of each biscuit. That is it, they are ready to bake in the oven.
The biscuits will bake for about 18 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are using cast iron pans I suggest taking the biscuits out onto a wire rack to cool. The cast iron really retains heat, that is why its great for baking, and if you leave the biscuits in you may over cook the bottoms.
That is it, now all you have to do is whip up the cream and assemble your dessert using the macerated strawberries we made at the start. For this recipe I never sweeten the whipped cream, I think there is enough sweetness that adding it to the cream kind of is overkill. But I won’t judge you if you do add sugar, totally your call. The one thing I would suggest is don’t try and slice them with a butter knife in your rush to eat one. Otherwise you will have the hacked looking edges of desperation featured in your dessert as shown in the photograph below. Either way people won’t even remember the hacked edges the minute they take a bite.
1 cup heavy cream, to be whipped for topping.
- Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form when it is time to assemble the shortcakes. If you want to sweeten the cream you can, I think leaving it unsweetened is nicer but you can add sugar if you want.
For the strawberries:
3 cups fresh strawberries washed, hulled, and halved
1/4 cup granulated sugar
- In a medium sized bowl place the prepared strawberries and the granulated sugar.
- Using forks gently crush the berries into smaller pieces, don’t over do it, just enough to help them release their juices.
- Stir together to toss all the strawberries in the sugar then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
For the biscuits:
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup frozen, or very cold, butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
Coarse sugar for sprinkling
1 tbsp water
- In a large bowl place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk gently to combine.
- Using a box grater, grate the 3/4 cup frozen butter into the flour mixture.
- Using a fork, or your fingertips, gently work the butter into the flour mixture until it is coarse and crumbly. It is ok to still see small pieces of butter.
- In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice, vanilla, milk and egg.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture.
- Pour about 1/3 of the milk mixture into the well in the dry mixture. Using a wooden spoon mix until just combined.
- Continue adding small amounts of the wet mixture, as needed, until there is enough moisture for the dough to hold in a ball shape. I used about 3/4 of the wet ingredients.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and generously grease a cast iron pan with butter. Alternatively line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Shape the dough into a rough rectangle then place on a very lightly floured surface.
- Fold the right side over the middle of the dough, then fold the left side over top to create a rough letter fold.
- Roll the dough to about 1/2 – 3/4″ thickness then cut into biscuit shapes using a 3″ round cookie cutter.
- Place the cut biscuits into the prepared cast iron pan(s), it is ok if they are touching.
- Take the remaining dough scraps and shape into a biscuit, it won’t look perfect but its close enough and better than throwing it away.
- Make the egg wash by whisking the egg with water in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the egg wash over the tops of each biscuit.
- Finish by sprinkling the tops of each biscuit with some coarse sugar.
- Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 18 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove the pan(s) from the oven, then immediately remove the biscuits from the pan(s) to a wire rack to cool. This prevents the bottoms from burning since cast iron retains heat so well.
- Once the biscuits have cooled, slightly, slice them in half and top them with the macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Enjoy.
Note: This biscuits freeze extremely well in the rare event you have one left over. These are also great for breakfast warm from the oven with jam or honey butter.