One week exactly until we close on both houses and move. One week until absolutely every scrap of my furniture has to be out of the house. One week until life, as we know it, changes forever.
Strawberry Shortcake was the food of my childhood that always brought a smile. My Mom would make it mid-summer, when we picked buckets and buckets of strawberries to process into delicious jam. A special treat on those days was a slice of light, buttery shortcake smothered in plump, ripe strawberries. Many people think of “strawberry shortcake” as grocery store angel food cake, topped with strawberry jam. But I tell you . . . you just haven’t lived until you try the real thing– feather-light, buttery cake, still warm from the oven, and buried under piles of ruby red berries. That type of vision will keep you trucking on, whether you have furniture in your house or not. 🙂
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Classic Strawberry Shortcake
(Adapted from my Mom’s recipe)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
Sliced Strawberries and Whipped Cream for Topping
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in cold butter until pieces are about the size of peas. In a small bowl whisk together egg and milk until well combined. Mix all at once to dry ingredients just until moistened. Place batter in a greased 8×8 pan and flatten surface using fingers moistened with water. Sprinkle moist top with extra sparkling or white sugar, if desired (the wet surface sticks really well to the sugar). Bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until cake is golden brown. Allow cake to cool slightly before serving with strawberries and whipped cream or ice cream.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
I think part of the reason I love this cake so much, as an adult (besides the awesome childhood memories that instantly take me back to my Mom’s sunny Pennsylvania kitchen), is that it’s incredibly quick and easy to make. If you get last minute company, you can whip this baby up in about 15-20 minutes. And don’t be surprised if the rich, buttery shortcake brings them back often for more surprise visits. 😉
Start out by whisking together your dry ingredients. Whisking the ingredients just makes sure that all the leavener gets equally mixed in. Now you won’t have half your cake with a short complex, while the other half is reaching for the stars. You’re welcome.
Next, cut in your cold butter. I used to really struggle with “cutting in butter with two knives,” or a fork, or whatever the recipe recommended. Then someone gave me the Perfect Pie Blender here. And HOLY COW. That little 15 buck gadget completely changed my baking game. I was suddenly able to pull off perfect pie crust, Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits, and every kind of Scone (Espresso Chip Scones, anyone?) you can imagine. If you bake regularly, or even if you’re sick of flat, lifeless biscuits, I strongly recommend picking this little beauty up. I use it almost every day.
This dough is basically a biscuit dough, which means that we want our butter to be cold. Cold butter puffs up in the oven, which means we get a soft, light-as-a-feather biscuit dough with a kiss of buttery goodness. Nice. So use your cutter and try to get your butter pieces cut down to about the size of peas.
Next, I use my measuring cup to measure out 2/3 cup milk and then use a fork to whisk my egg right into the milk. That way I have only 1 cup to wash, instead of 2 😉 Use your fork or a butter knife to mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones, just until everything is moistened. A little secret to mixing any kind of biscuit dough without “overworking” it is to use a knife to just “cut through” the dough again and again (I do multiple vertical “slides” and then multiple horizontal slides through the dough). This incorporates the ingredients without stirring and overworking the dough.
Stop when the dough is JUST mixed. It’s OK to have a few clumps of flour in there– it just needs to be basically together. Overmixing is the death knell of many a biscuit, so don’t fall prey to it. 😉
When you’re done mixing, gently scrape your mound of shaggy dough into a greased (with cooking spray) 8×8 pan (or cast iron skillet! :). This part is optional, but I like to wet my fingers with water and press the dough down flat. I then sprinkle the top of the dough with white sugar or sparkling sugar (like this glittery, crunchy topping here). The sugar will crystalize and form this gorgeous, jewel-like crust when the cake is done baking. Pop the cake into a preheated 425 degree oven (use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is the correct temp) and bake for 15-18 minutes– just until the top is a lovely, golden brown color.
When your cake is done . . . it’s weird, but you can actually hear it “crackling.” One of my favorite things to do when the cake is finished is to put it on top of the stove to cool, and then carefully listen to the sound it makes. It happily crackles and smells amazing. So weird, but that’s how you know it’s done. It tells you! 🙂
Wait until the cake completely cools. OK. Who am I kidding. Wait until it’s a shred less molten and then cut yourself a huge, steaming slab. 😉 Smother it with oodles of sliced, fragrant strawberries. It may not be summer, but something about a happy red strawberry in late November makes this dessert that much more incredible to eat.
If you want, give your shortcake a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Top with more strawberries. Take a bite of warm, buttery cake. Swoon. Repeat as needed. 😉
Tell yourself that soon this move will be over, and then you can remove the IV of coffee that’s keeping you alive. Hehe 😉
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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