Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Plain, Strawberry Shortcake Fancy

     Oh Happy Day!  The u-pick strawberry patch around the corner, flung open it's gates this week. To me, strawberry season nothing short of downright sacred. Growing up in northern Michigan, we kids would eagerly look forward to early June and strawberry picking day.  Mom would pile us kids, berry baskets, and a picnic lunch into the car and we'd head out.  Standing at the edge of the field, it seemed like the rows stretched away for miles, gleaming red berries peeping out, just waiting to be picked...and popped into our mouths. We'd pick, and eat, and eat and eat.  There was nothing better then those sun-warmed, plump red morsels.  After a while though, the work of picking would wear old. We'd wander off to explore the farm, juice staining our fingers and chins. There was a hound dog who lived flopped on the porch, tail wagging lazy, just waiting for a scratch under the chin. My brothers loved that dog and they'd sit, playing  with him. The dog was good and all, but I couldn't wait to find the other pet that lived by the porch - mama kitty.  Every year, she was there waiting for me, with a new batch of baby kittens. Kittens and strawberries - life didn't get much better then that.
      You can imagine how much I am enjoying  the fact that we have a strawberry patch around the corner. I get to pass along the fun and memories to my own daughter. Ever since she was old enough to toddle, I have been taking her out to one berry patch or another.  Just like her mama, she loves those berries...and exploring the farm.

Now that I've strolled down memory lane - the question is what to do with all the bounty from picking? Well, the end of strawberry picking day as a kid, was just as much fun as the farm itself. We'd come home hot, dirty and tired. Mom would make a giant shortcake for dinner and we'd get to eat as much as we wanted. No salad, no veggies, nothing else, just strawberry shortcake for dinner. We kids thought that was greatest thing ever.  This recipe is the country version my mom made and what I make for my own kids.

Country Strawberry Shortcake:
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
5 tablespoons butter

Heat milk in saucepan or microwave until milk is hot and butter is melted. Set aside. In mixing bowl, beat eggs on high speed until thick - about five minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Combine flour and baking powder.Add to batter, with vanilla and beat for at low speed until smooth. Slowly add hot milk, beating just until combined.  Pour into greased 8 x 8 baking pan.Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until cake tests done.  While cake is fresh from oven, cut into squares. Put a piece of hot cake in bowl and pile on lots of sliced, sugared berries.  Pour milk over all and enjoy

Strawberry Shortcake Fancy
Sometimes though, I need fancy shortcake.  Something for company, you know - kind of impressive. And then, Barefoot Contessa's shortcake is just the thing. Her original recipe is not sweet and rather salty, so I've played around to get it right. Here is my amended version.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash

To assemble:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled, sliced and lightly sugared


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the butter at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and cream and quickly add to the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will be sticky. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and pat the dough out 3/4-inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough. Cut individual shortcakes with a round biscuit cutter. Or, if you are like me and don't have one, use a floured drinking glass to cut circles.
Place shortcakes on a parchment lined baking pan -if you don't have parchment, make sure your pan is greased.Brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outsides are browned and the insides are fully baked. .

To assemble, whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and continue to beat  just a minute or two more. And for the record - if you consider Cool Whip(or nondairy whipped topping) to be an acceptable alternative here, just stop for  a minute. Pick up a tub of that stuff and read the ingredient list for what you are about to eat. Do any of the items on that list even sound like food to you? 

Split each shortcake in half crosswise and place the bottom half on a plate. Spoon on a pile of sugared strawberries, with lots of juice, then plop on a cloud of whipped cream. Put the top back on and layer with more whipped cream and berries. Serve to the  tune of oooohs and ahhhhs!


  1. Real shortcake. That's how I remember it. I can't eat it any other way. Just strawberries, shortcake, and milk with some sugar on top. Just how Mom made it. Did you do the same in the Fall where all you had for dinner after picking apples? Apple dumplings hot out of the oven with milk on top, and nothing else? Your pictures and story is great. Making your recipe for shepards pie tonight. I have been looking for a good recipe for it since mine are all gone. If its family approved, I know dinner will be great. Have a great day Dawn

  2. Oh yeah - apple dumplings in the fall - same deal. Much as we could eat:) Come to think of it, I have yet to make that for my kids. We always eat apple crisp. I will have to fix that oversight :)

    Hope you enjoy the Shepherds Pie. Stop by the blog and let me know how it turns out!

  3. I made your country shortcake for supper last night. Wow! was that good! The Hubby couldn't stop eating it!

  4. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it:) We have been making LOTS of shortcake this past week.