When strawberry season arrives, it is time for shortcake. Shortcake is just a sweet biscuit, layered with fresh berries in syrup and topped with cold whipped cream. Yep, that is the stuff dreams are made of.
Ask any southern cook how they make biscuits and you will get a different answer every time. In my family, we always use our hands - no fancy pastry cutters or knife methods for us. Growing up my grandmother would sit me on the countertop and I would watch her cook. Sometimes I got to lend a hand but mostly I watched and tasted along the way. Many bowls and beaters were licked. Oh, those were the days.
I wouldn’t think of making my biscuits any other way than with my hands all in the dough. My grandmother would say the art is in the touch………. In a large bowl I mix the dry ingredients with, yes, my hand. You can feel when all the powders are “unclumped” and smooth. You know, baking soda always wants to stick together. Once you have that completely smooth feeling, I cut the butter into slices on top of the dry ingredients. Again with my hand, I rub the flour into the butter until the whole thing looks and feels like cornmeal. If there are a few butter clumps left - all the better.
Once the cornmeal texture is achieved you can use a spatula to stir in the buttermilk and the strawberries. My recipe calls for one cup of buttermilk but you may need more or less, so add it gradually. The dough should be stiff but workable. This may sound confusing but it all works out in the end.
Once the dough comes together, turn it onto a floured surface. Knead the dough 5 times - no more or you have over done it. My reason, because Grandmother said so. If your dough is very dry be careful not to mix in too much flour. If your dough is very wet, this is a time to incorporate more flour.
My grandmother did not use a rolling pin so I don’t either. I pat the dough out into a rectangle that will fit on a baking sheet. Use a floured knife to cut the dough into twelve pieces. Transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet with the dough pieces loosely touching. Top all the slices with a pat of butter, Sprinkle with more sugar. Bake.
Note. Transferring the dough can seem messy. Sometimes the biscuits do not hold their perfect shape. Don’t worry, just place your dough pieces and the cooking will fix everything.
Bake until the biscuits are golden on top. Your time may vary depending on how thick you made your dough. The thickness is a personal preference. My family likes a thinner crunchier biscuit. If you like thicker and fluffier that is good too - just bake a little longer. The biscuits will come out of the oven all baked together. Separate the biscuits while they are still warm.
You can stop here and eat strawberry biscuits with butter. Pretty much perfection for breakfast. If you happen to have some strawberry jam about - all the better.
To assemble the strawberry shortcake, place the biscuit as the bottom layer. Spoon on strawberries and syrup. Top with cold whipped cream. Eat up!
Grandmother’s Strawberry Shortcake
2 cups all purpose flour (more for rolling out the dough)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk (or more)
1 cup diced strawberries
Extra butter and sugar for dusting biscuit tops
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Use your hand to stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Slice cold butter onto the top of the mixed dry ingredients. Use your hand to incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter. You are done when the texture looks like cornmeal. Lean to the side of under mixing because butter clumps are fine.
Use a spatula to stir in the buttermilk.
Stir in the strawberries.
If the dough seems very dry, add additional buttermilk.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 times until dough comes together.
Pat out the dough into a rough rectangle. Use a floured knife to slice the dough into 12 pieces.
Carefully transfer biscuit pieces to a parchment lined baking sheet. The pieces should be close together - almost touching.
Top each biscuit with a small slice of butter and sprinkle extra sugar on top.
Bake for about 15 minutes. You will want to stay by the oven as baking times can vary depending on the thickness of your dough. The biscuit will bake together and should have a golden top.
Separate the biscuits while they are still warm.
Cool on a wire rack for using as shortcake or eat right away with butter.
Assemble shortcake with a strawberry biscuit on the bottom. Spoon on strawberries and syrup. Top with whipped cream!
Strawberries in Syrup
3 cups fresh strawberries
1/4 t0 1/2 cup granulated sugar (sugar to taste)
Thickly slice strawberries.
Stir in the sugar.
Let sit in the refrigerator until the strawberries are nice and juicy. About 30 minutes.
1 cup cold whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Add whipping cream and sugar to a small bowl. Use a mixer to whip until soft peaks are formed.