American strawberry shortcake – a sweet biscuit filled and topped with strawberries and freshly whipped cream – what can be simpler and more delicious during the strawberry season?
I try to make the most of the strawberry season, we eat strawberries not only plain but also on cakes like this glorious Strawberry Yogurt Cheesecake, which I make at least twice every season, in form of a sauce for pancakes and I even serve strawberries in savory dishes like this Strawberry Chicken.
What is strawberry shortcake?
Strawberry shortcake is a famous American dessert made with shortcake, macerated strawberries and whipped cream.
To make the strawberry shortcake, the sweet biscuits are split in the middle. The bottom of the biscuit is generously covered with strawberries and their juices, a good dollop of freshly whipped cream, and topped with the second biscuit slice which is covered with more strawberries and whipped cream.
The most common version of a shortcake is made with strawberries, but there are plenty of recipes that use other summer fruit, like peaches, raspberries or blueberries and even chocolate.
Other versions of the strawberry shortcake are made with sponge cake, like this Strawberry Country Cake from Ina Garten, I will definitely try that version as well soon, it sounds and looks great!
Origins of strawberry shortcake
According to lovetoknow.com, a strawberry shortcake dessert was mentioned for the first time in 1847 in Miss Leslie’s Ladies New Receipt Book, under the name of strawberry cake, a recipe reminiscent of today’s strawberry shortcake.
Either way, by the middle of the 18th century, the strawberry shortcake was a very well-known dessert, and in the United States, people used to organize strawberry shortcake parties to celebrate the summer fruit harvest. June 14th is still celebrated as Strawberry Shortcake Day in some parts of the United States.
The original strawberry shortcakes were made with a pie-like crust, somewhat thicker than the pie crust we are used to having nowadays. These heavy pie crusts were cut in rounds and split or broken into pieces. The pie crusts were then filled with crushed and sugared strawberries, making them look like some kind of sandwiches, and then covered with a sugared frosting.
In some parts of the US, the earlier versions of the strawberry shortcake were served hot with butter and sweetened cream. According to Wikipedia again, “it wasn’t until 1910 that French pastry chefs replaced the topping with heavy whipped cream.”
How to make the sweet biscuits?
- Making biscuits is not difficult. First of all make sure the butter is really cold, straight from the fridge.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, chop the cold butter into small pieces, add them to the bowl. Stir with a butter knife to make sure that the butter cubes are coated in flour. Continue by cutting the butter into the flour mixture.
How to cut the butter into flour?
Cutting the butter properly into the flour mixture is the key to having melt-in-the-mouth, delicious biscuits, the little butter pieces making the biscuits flaky.
There are several methods of cutting the butter into the flour.
- Method 1 (classic method): use a butter knife to cut the butter until only tiny bits of butter coated in flour remained. Alternatively, you can use dough blender or cutter, it makes things quicker.
- Method 2: Mix the butter into the flour with the fingertips. In this case, make sure that your hands are cold and really only use your fingertips and not the palms of your hands, which are too warm.
- Method 3: Use the food processor. Place the dry ingredients into the food processor, pulse a few times to mix, and add the very cold and cubed butter. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Make sure you do not over-process the dough, the biscuits will not be that flaky anymore.
- Method 4: Leave the necessary butter in one piece and freeze it. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, grate the butter over the mixture using a grater with large holes. Mix with a knife to coat the butter with the flour.
- When you are finished with cutting the butter into the flour, add the half and half to the mixture (or milk and cream stirred together, we don’t have half and half in Germany), stir briefly until the dough just begins to pull from the sides of the bowl.
- Generously sprinkle the working surface with flour, place the dough on it and turn it a few times until all sides are coated in a thin layer of flour. Knead very shortly and carefully, turning it only about 10 times and gently rubbing the flour into the dough.
- Press the dough gently with your hands to form a thick rectangle, about 2 ½ cm/ 1 inch thick.
- Cut into rounds using a cookie cutter of about 6 cm/ 2 ½ inch diameter. I didn’t have a round cookie cutter, so I used the flower one you can see in the pictures and just pressed the edges lightly to give them more of a rounded look.
- Bring the scraps together without working them too much and cut a couple of more biscuits.
- Bake the shortcakes on a baking tray lined with baking paper, in the preheated oven, for about 12 to 15 minutes, until golden. Let get cool on wire racks.
- To macerate the berries for the American strawberry shortcakes, I used the same recipe I gave you a few weeks ago, Rosa’s Macerated Strawberries.
- The recipe is very simple and the resulting macerated berries can be eaten on their own, topped with whipped cream, on top of cakes, with ice cream, and so on.
- I only top the shortcake biscuits with strawberries and cream before we eat them, assembling only just as many as we can eat in one go. If we have leftovers, I only top the biscuits the next time we eat.
If you have leftover biscuits, but no more cream and strawberries, you can have the biscuits for breakfast, topped with butter or cream cheese and jam. Even if they are not that fresh the next day, they are still delicious.
More strawberry desserts:
American Strawberry Shortcake
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 2 cups all-purpose flour + 30 g/ 1 oz/ ¼ cup for kneading the dough
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 75 g/ 2.6 oz/ ¾ cup icing sugar
- 110 g/ 3.9 oz/ ½ cup unsalted butter
- 90 ml/ 3 oz/ 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
- 90 ml/ 3 oz/ 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy/ double cream See note
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs strawberries
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 500 ml/ 17 fl.oz/ 2 cups heavy/double cream
- 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Combine 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 2 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and icing sugar together. Cut the chilled butter into small cubes and add the cubes to the flour mixture. Stir to coat the butter with the flour. Cut the butter into the flour following one of the methods described above. Cut the butter into the flour with a knife or with a dough blender or cutter. Or pulse the butter into the flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Or you can work the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Or you could freeze the butter, grate it over the flour and work it into the mixture.
- Spread the remaining 30 g/ ¼ cup flour onto the working surface. Turn the dough into the flour until it is coated in flour all over. Gently knead the dough, working the flour into it, but not too long, about 10 moves should be enough.
- Carefully press the dough into a 2,5 cm/1-inch thick rectangle. Cut the biscuits using a cookie cutter with a diameter of 6 cm/ 2 ½ inch. Gently press the scraps together and cut 1 or 2 extra biscuits. Place them on the baking tray and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
- Clean and cut the strawberries into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Place them into a bowl, stir with the sugar and let stand for at least 30 minutes.
- Pour the heavy cream to a bowl and start beating it. Slowly add sugar to taste and continue beating the cream until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Split the biscuits in the middle. Cover the bottom side with a generous amount of strawberries, some of their juices, and a good dollop of whipped cream.
- Cover with the second half of the biscuit and top with some more strawberries, juices, and whipped cream. Serve immediately.