Berry season finally arrived, ushered in by bright red strawberries found in the green patches at our favorite farm. Strawberry picking has been our yearly tradition each May, a wonderful marker in our year that reminds us of warmer days ahead. We fill our cardboard flats with candy-sweet berries and nibble a few while we listen to the crowing roosters and the low moo of the cows in a nearby pasture.
Our first recipe is strawberry shortcake served after dinner that same night. There is strong debate over the correct shortcake. Some prefer angel food cake slices, others like a thick shortbread. Our old school favorite that gets the vote is a southern biscuit cut in half and piled high with sliced berries, then topped with real whipped cream. This recipe includes a touch of fresh basil in the biscuit, which compliments the sweet berries with a very subtle, savory note.
What you will need:
First: The berries.
1 quart fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
Gently toss the sugar with the berries and set aside. You can skip the sugar, but it creates a little juice to soak into the biscuit.
Next: The biscuits.
2 cups self-rising flour
¼ cup Crisco shortening
¾ cup milk
4-6 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
Whipped cream for serving
Heat your oven to 450°. Measure flour into a large bowl. Add basil and toss to coat. Cut the shortening into the flour with a pastry blender until you have a pea-size crumb. Add milk, stirring with large fork until you have a soft dough.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead five or six times until smooth. Roll dough to ½ thickness. Cut into circles using a 2” cutter or drinking glass. Place circles on baking sheets with sides slightly touching.
Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Set biscuits on cooling rack and brush with a little bit of honey. Makes 1 dozen.
Slice the biscuit through the middle and assemble the shortcakes in layers: biscuit, strawberries and their yummy juice, whipped cream, the other biscuit half, more berries, more whipped cream. This is lovely when served with tea for breakfast too!
The featured image is courtesy of Annie Nardone and is used with her permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.
Annie Nardone is a flannel-clad, cowboy boot-shod adventurer who seldom travels with a map! Her passion is the reintegration of the arts and humanities with theology and Christian imagination. Annie holds a Masters Degree in Cultural Apologetics from HBU, is a founding member of The Society for Women of Letters, and is Managing Editor of The Cultivating Reader for Cultivating magazine. She also writes for Literary Life, and An Unexpected Journal. Annie resides in Florida with her Middle Earth-Narnia-Hogwarts-loving family, & her wild assemblage of cats.
I have happy memories of eating these every summer, Annie, though the cakes were usually the store-bought yellow ones with the depressed top for holding the goods. I agree that biscuits are a delicious alternative, but I’d never have thought of including basil. Very intrigued by this recipe.
Matthew, thank you for your memory! We used the same little cakes when I was growing up, unless there was time to make an angelfood cake. Perhaps the cake vs. biscuit is regional because I had never had it with a rolled biscuit until I went to the northeast.
My daughter and I love to experiment with accenting the sweet with the savory and a bit of basil is such a lovely addition. A little fresh rosemary is also nice! I’m glad that you are giving it a go.
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