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Strawberry Shortcakes

by . Featured in HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS, and Nigella Quick Collection
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Introduction

I've long been fascinated by this American pudding, which isn't really a scone so much as a tender, buttery sponge with scone-like properties, split and crammed with strawberries. There's so much dispute, as there always is with traditional recipes, over the right method to make them, serve them, eat them: should they be individual-sized or one huge flat disc? should butter be spread on the tender cut sides while still warm, before the fruit and cream are dolloped on?

This is what you want to bring out to people by the plateful on a summer's day after lunch in the garden.

I've long been fascinated by this American pudding, which isn't really a scone so much as a tender, buttery sponge with scone-like properties, split and crammed with strawberries. There's so much dispute, as there always is with traditional recipes, over the right method to make them, serve them, eat them: should they be individual-sized or one huge flat disc? should butter be spread on the tender cut sides while still warm, before the fruit and cream are dolloped on?

This is what you want to bring out to people by the plateful on a summer's day after lunch in the garden.

Strawberry Shortcakes
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Makes: 8 shortcakes

Metric Cups

For the Shortcakes

  • 325 grams plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 125 grams unsalted butter (frozen)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 125 millilitres single cream
  • 1 large egg white (lightly beaten)

For the Filling

  • approx. 300 grams strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 3 drops balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 250 millilitres double cream (or creme fraiche)

For the Shortcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter (frozen)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg white (lightly beaten)

For the Filling

  • 10 ounces strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 3 drops balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • ½ cup heavy cream (or creme fraiche)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7/425ºF.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Grate the butter into these dry ingredients and use your fingertips to finish crumbling the butter into the flour. Whisk the egg into the cream, and pour into the flour mixture a little at a time, using a fork to mix. You may not need all of the eggy cream to make the dough come together, so go cautiously.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll gently to a thickness of about 2cm / ¾ inch. Dip a 6½ cm / 2½ inch round cutter in flour and cut out as many rounds as you can. Work the scraps back into a dough, re-roll and finish cutting out you should get 8 in all. Place the shortcakes about 2½ cm / 1 inch apart on a greased or lined baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg white, and sprinkle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. If it helps with the rest of your cooking, or life in general, you can cover and refrigerate them now for up to 2 hours.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden-brown, and let them cool for a short while on a wire rack. Meanwhile, crush half the strawberries with the spoonful of sugar and the few drops of balsamic vinegar if using, and halve or quarter the remaining strawberries, depending on their size. Whip the double cream, if you're using.
  5. The shortcakes should be eaten while still warm, so split each one across the middle and cover with a spoonful of the crushed strawberry mixture, a few halved or quartered strawberries, then dollop some whipped cream or creme fraiche on top, and set the top back on.
  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7/425ºF.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Grate the butter into these dry ingredients and use your fingertips to finish crumbling the butter into the flour. Whisk the egg into the cream, and pour into the flour mixture a little at a time, using a fork to mix. You may not need all of the eggy cream to make the dough come together, so go cautiously.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll gently to a thickness of about 2cm / ¾ inch. Dip a 6½ cm / 2½ inch round cutter in flour and cut out as many rounds as you can. Work the scraps back into a dough, re-roll and finish cutting out you should get 8 in all. Place the shortcakes about 2½ cm / 1 inch apart on a greased or lined baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg white, and sprinkle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar. If it helps with the rest of your cooking, or life in general, you can cover and refrigerate them now for up to 2 hours.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden-brown, and let them cool for a short while on a wire rack. Meanwhile, crush half the strawberries with the spoonful of sugar and the few drops of balsamic vinegar if using, and halve or quarter the remaining strawberries, depending on their size. Whip the heavy cream, if you're using.
  5. The shortcakes should be eaten while still warm, so split each one across the middle and cover with a spoonful of the crushed strawberry mixture, a few halved or quartered strawberries, then dollop some whipped cream or creme fraiche on top, and set the top back on.

Additional Information

I love these American-style with passionfruit in place of the strawberries, though if you're going along with this, don't use creme fraiche; you need velvety-smooth, whipped double cream, unpasteurized if possible.

I love these American-style with passionfruit in place of the strawberries, though if you're going along with this, don't use creme fraiche; you need velvety-smooth, whipped double cream, unpasteurized if possible.

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