The Most Irresistible Strawberry Shortcake Anytime of Year
The Very Berry Strawberry Shortcake Story
The best Strawberry Shortcake is best with fresh, local strawberries. That ridiculously delicious and irresistible berry, the strawberry, marks the official beginning of summer. We await its appearance at The Farmer’s Market with the anticipation of an emerging rock star.
Strawberries have been an integral part of every June of my life since I can remember. And now, most mornings they’re the centerpiece of our Farm to Table Breakfasts at WIckwood. We serve our spectacular Four Berry Bowl to the “O-h-h-h’s and Ah-h-h-h-s” of our bed and breakfast guests. We learned over the past three decades how to make it memorable any time of year. And, once I “perfected” Strawberry Short Cake…….we simply had to serve that for Breakfast too! It makes perfect sense to me….strawberries, biscuits, and cream…..all very appropriate anytime of day. Our guests agree.
The Strawberries Of My Youth
Before my tenth birthday, my best friends and I were picking strawberries at Allen Outpost. It was in Kalamazoo, my hometown, and our first “jobs”. I think we ate more of those warm sun-sweetened bursting with flavor strawberries than ever made it into the wooden baskets. They were perfect before an afternoon of swimming at Wood’s Lake, adjacent to the Outpost.
They allowed us to take some of the berries home and my Mom was the Strawberry Shortcake Queen. She celebrated the short local strawberry season by sometimes making that wonderful dessert our dinner. Rick, my brother and I had to promise not to tell our friends of her antics. But we couldn’t wait for “Show and Tell” at school, to tell everyone the Rosso family secret. Wills and I continue that dinner menu several times during the berry season.
The Strawberry Experiments
On those early trips to Paris in the 60’s discovering Fraise des Bois so enamored me, those small sweet French strawberries from the markets. I brought both plants and berries home, along with the miraculous Crème Fraiche, in my carry-on satchel. Mush was what I presented to my current Amour. He wasn’t impressed.
Over the years, I’ve grown those little Alpine strawberries in huge quantities and small, on NYC roof gardens/windowsills and in strawberry jars at Wickwood. Mom’s love for Shortcake was lifelong and once I moved back to Michigan, I wanted to see if I could improve on her classic as a special treat for her.
How I Make The Best Strawberry Shortcake
Of course, for the best Strawberry Shortcake, you must start with the very best local June strawberries you can find. But, if you tweak the flavors you can make shortcake most seasons of the year. Most importantly, when they’re in season and once they’re picked, I don’t ever refrigerate them. They will last a few hours or a day on the kitchen counter, lightly covered with a napkin, but they won’t ripen further. The refrigerator, I feel, changes their texture.
Many think the biscuit is the essence of strawberry shortcake…….to me it’s the berries. Instead of letting them macerate in loads of sugar that brings out their juices (I want to taste the berries not the sugar). I puree some of them and perhaps some raspberries, then add fresh orange and lemon juices. Then I taste and sparingly sweeten more if needed. Then I add whole berries and some blueberries, if they’re in season, sweeten them lightly and toss gently. And I want them at room temperature!! Let them sit on the counter for at least 4 hours while their flavors marry.
Next I focus on the cream. I whip heavy cream gently in my Ninja blender, sweeten it softly and add a dash of vanilla. Then, I fold in sour cream so that it’s loose and can be dolloped onto the shortcake.
We’re Team Biscuit
Cakes all simply do not hit the mark, for shortcake, be they sponge, layer, pound or angel food. None. It must be a biscuit. In England, known as a crisp biscuit. I make mine simply by cheating in the most unorthodox way and make an All American box mix my own. The biscuit is small and crisped around the edges and split in two….and sweet….another reason for not overly sweetening the berries of the cream.
When You Serve A Shortcake
Served in a shallow bowl is how I love it, with all the temperatures and flavors playing off one another. The biscuit must be piping hot and split in two, room temp berries ladled generously atop and all smothered in icy cool cream. Bibs, optional.
In our home, we found that mid-winter is when we crave shortcake. And only less than idyllic berries are available. So, we ‘accent’ the berries even more. It’s still better to savor shortcake rather than not have it at all. Sometimes we add a little very old and cher authentic Balsamico , sometimes a little sea salt, or freshly ground Tellicherry Pepper. When we are feeling frisky and want to indulge, we splash a dash of Fraise Eau-de-Vie or Framboise. Suddenly it’s June again!
The Best Very Berry Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
2 quarts ripe strawberries, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces (approx. 6 cups cut berries)
2 oranges, juice only
2 lemons, juice only
4 – 6 tablespoons sugar, depending on the season and the sweetness of berries
2 pints blueberries
2 pints raspberries
1 pint blackberries
Softly Whipped Cream
2 pints heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 – 3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 1/3 cups Bisquick, original
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Several hours prior to serving, trim and cut strawberries and place in a bowl.
- Remove 1 cup of strawberries and one pint of raspberries and place in blender. Add (hand squeezed) juices of lemons, orange and 4 tablespoons of sugar, taste for sweetness.
- Pour puree over cut strawberries and add whole raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and taste for sweetness. Add additional sugar if necessary – remember there is sugar in cream and biscuits. Set aside at room temperature.
- In a medium mixing bowl (by whisk or mixer) whip the cream until it has soft peaks. Add the vanilla, and sugar to taste. Whip just one minute more. Fold in the sour cream keeping cream loose, cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Thirty minutes prior to serving, preheat oven to 425°. Ready un-greased baking sheet. Place all biscuit ingredients (in order) into a medium mixing bowl and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Drop 6 – 8 biscuits into even amounts onto baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes on middle rack in oven until golden brown.
- When biscuits are done, immediately place 1 biscuit, in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Ladle berries and juice over hot biscuits. Top with a generous dolling of Softly Whipped Cream. Smile.
Enjoy Your Strawberry Shortcake At Saugatuck’s Wickwood Inn
You can create our Very Best Strawberry Shortcake Recipe at home. But, why not just eat it at while staying at Wickwood Inn’s bed and breakfast in downtown Saugatuck, Michigan. Give us a call, reserve your room and you’ll be eating the very best shortcake ever.