Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kitchen Adventure: Strawberry Shortcake

Eric and I celebrated our two year anniversary earlier this week. As much as I love eating out, I really wanted to cook a simple but delicious meal for us. I've got a go-to recipe for the dinner portion, but when it came to choosing a dessert I was unsure. I walked up to Wegmans, picked up my necessary dinner ingredients then spent some time wandering around the produce section.

It was an unseasonably warm weekend, reminiscent of August during the New England summer. Since the weather felt so summery, I decided to go with one of my favorite summer desserts after I walked by the gigantic strawberry display.

Strawberry Shortcake
Adapted from Baking Illustrated

8 cups (40 oz/2.5bs) strawberries, hulled and quartered
6 tablespoons (2.5 oz) sugar

1. Combine the strawberries and sugar in a plastic container with a lid and shake it up. Feel free to dance around the kitchen while you do this, it makes it more fun. Alternatively you can put the mixture into a big metal bowl and mash them with a potato masher. I think that's not as much fun though.
2. Store the shaken/squished strawberry mixture in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a little more for the work surface and biscuit cutter
3 tablespoons sugar, plus a little more for sugaring the tops of the biscuits
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, frozen and cut into half inch cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon half and half
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

1. Combine the first four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple times to combine.
2. Sprinkle the frozen, cubed butter over the top and pulse until the mixture looks sandy. Pour it into a large bowl and make a small well in the center.
3. In a mixing cup, combine the egg with the half and half. Pour the mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, gently fold the until the mixture starts to come together in large clumps.
4. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and work with a dough scraper until it comes together fully. Using a small rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 3/4" thick disk. Flour the cutter and cut out the biscuits. Note: Don't twist the cutter, it'll mess up the sides of the biscuit and they won't look quite right. Also, don't feel like you have to use a round biscuit cutter. Cookie cutters work just fine, especially teddy bears.
5. When it comes time to re-roll the dough, before doing so you should cool it off just a little bit by placing a cake pan atop the mass and putting some frozen stuff on top of it. Let it cool for five minutes or so, then repeat the rolling and cutting process.
6. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg white and then sprinkle a little sugar on top. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat until fluffy.

Once all the components are finished, you can split the biscuits with a serrated knife. Combine, top with whipped cream and enjoy!