Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TWD: Tender Shortcakes {my pick!!}


I know that many people know well ahead of time which recipe they will choose when their turn comes up in Tuesdays with Dorie. But there must be others like me, who really have no idea which recipe they'll pick, and then end up having a kind of out of body experience that involves typing "I choose the Tender Shortcakes" in response to Laurie's "Your turn to pick for June!" email. And who wake up the next day thinking "did I really pick the Tender Shortcakes over a gazillion other amazing-looking desserts in Baking? Let me check my sent items folder. Yes I did." Now, don't get me wrong -- I like strawberry shortcakes. But my sister has always been the real strawberry shortcake lover in the family - she'll choose it for her birthday dessert and order it in restaurants, and my mother will always serve it for dessert if she knows Diane is coming over for dinner. I, on the other hand, can usually be found rummaging through the pantry to see if there is anything in there that can be turned into chocolate cake.

But I was never going to pick anything chocolate, because I needed David, who has been my most faithful and loyal taster for the nearly two years I've been in TWD, to eat and review whatever I chose. And once I knew that I had a June pick, I started zoning in on seasonal recipes. Dorie calls these tender shortcakes "the quintessential shortcakes" and, well, I think of strawberry shortcakes as the quintessential summer dessert. So Tender Shortcakes it was!!

Some desserts/techniques have a reputation of being somewhat difficult or fussy (e.g., meringue, custard, caramel), and generally speaking, if they are difficult for anybody, they are difficult for me as well. Then there are the desserts that do not have a reputation for being difficult (e.g, brownies) but which manage to be difficult for me anyway (chronic underbaker here).

That brings us to biscuits, or members of the biscuit family (as these shortcakes are) which also have the reputation for being a tad tricky, yet which inexplicably have never given me any trouble. For whatever reason I am square with the biscuit/shortcake gods. I really hoped that this biscuit magic continued through these shortcakes, because I really didn't want to have to write a "fail" post for my week.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl:


Make sure your cold, unsalted butter is ready to go:


Drop the butter onto the flour mixture:


And then working quickly using your fingers (Dorie's preferred method) or a pastry cutter, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients:


At this point Dorie says you should have pieces the size of peas, the size of oatmeal flakes, and everything in between. {I also had many pieces the size of . . . flour, but (SPOILER ALERT) the finished product was fabulous anyway.}

Pour the cream over the dry ingredients and toss and gently turn the ingredients with a fork until you've got a very soft dough.


Spoon out about 1/3 of a cup of dough for each shortcake onto a baking sheet:


Pat each mound down until it is between 3/4 inch and 1 inch high:


At this point you can freeze the shortcakes on the baking sheet, and then wrap them airtight and keep them in the freezer for up to 2 months. I froze the dough for all of my shortcakes before baking them off, and the frozen shortcakes baked up perfectly after exactly 18 minutes in my oven. I love this "freeze the dough" technique -- it gives you the freedom to turn out fresh, delicious homemade shortcakes on a moment's notice.

With my shortcakes safely in the freezer, I set out to my favorite farmer's market to hunt down June's finest berries:


With my first round of shortcakes, I went with a combination of strawberries and blueberries. Top the berries with a little sugar to taste and let them sit for 10 minutes or so, until they are juicy. Once the shortcakes are baked and the cream is whipped, it's really just a matter of assembly.


Peach variation:


The verdict? One bite of these shortcakes and all second-guessing about my choice ceased immediately. David and I agreed that these are in a completely different universe from any other shortcake we've ever had. They are tender, flaky, and melt-in-your mouth delicious. They have just the right hint of sweetness while maintaining the buttery essence of a great biscuit. They are indeed the quintessential shortcake -- the perfect vehicle for the summer's bounty of fresh fruit and berries.

I hope that everyone enjoyed these shortcakes as much as we did. Thanks to my fellow TWD bakers for baking along with me this week! And thank you, Dorie, for another winner in the treasure trove that is Baking!

Tender Shortcakes, from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 10 shortcakes

FOR THE BISCUITS:

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

FOR THE FILLING:

Berries (about 1/2 cup per shortcake), hulled and slice if using strawberries
Sugar
Lightly sweetened softly whipped cream

GETTING READY:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

TO MAKE THE BISCUITS:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces in between - and that's just right.

Pour the cream over the dry ingredients and toss and gently turn the ingredients with a fork until you've got a very soft dough. When the dough comes together, you'll probably still have dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl - just use a spatula or your hands to mix and knead the dough until it's evenly blended. Don't overdo it; it's better to have a few dry spots than an overworked dough. Even with all the flour mixed in, the dough will be soft and sticky.

Spoon out about 1/3 cup of dough for each shortcake onto the baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches of space between the mounts of dough. Pat each mound down until is is between 3/4 and 1 inch high. (The shortcakes can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept in the freezer for up to 2 months. Bake with out defrosting - just add at least 5 more minutes to the oven time.)

If you have more dough, repeat, cooling the baking sheet first.

Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back at the midway point, until the shortcakes are puffed and give just a bit when prodded. Pull the sheet from the oven and transfer the shortcakes to a cooling rack.

TO MAKE THE FILLING:

Put the berries in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar to taste and let sit for about 10 minutes, until they are juicy.

The cakes are tender and really pretty fragile, so go easy with them. Use a serrated knife and not much pressure to cut each cake in half horizontally. (Alternatively, you can use the tines of a fork to prick a ring around the middle of the shortcake, then use your fingers to gently pry the halves apart.) Put the bottom halves on plates, top with the berries - make sure to include some of the sweet juices - and spoon over some whipped cream. Put the tops on the shortcakes or lean them against the cream, my preference. If you decide to go for the open-faced shortcakes, you'll get two textures - moist and moister.

82 comments:

Di said...

This was a fantastic pick, Cathy! We all loved it, and I'll definitely be making these shortcakes again. Thanks for the reminder about freezing the dough; that's a great idea.

Tracey said...

Your pick was a serious winner Cathy! They're so unassuming - not much to look at - but just one bite and I was sold. Definitely a repeat for me as soon as I lose the 5 pounds I gained eating my entire batch myself :) Yours look wonderful - glad you guys enjoyed them too!

cindy said...

What a delicious dessert, perfect pick for a warm summer day! We had fun making and eating this yummy treat.

Judy said...

Wonderful shortcakes! They almost didn't make it to the fruit.

Valerie said...

Thank you, Cathy! This was the perfect pick for late Spring. Your peach version looks delicious!! :)

Leslie said...

Amazing pick, Cathy! I really, really enjoyed these and I'll definitely be making them again and stashing them in the freezer, as you did. A little secret...I didn't like shortcake before making them this week, so you've created a shortcake lover! I'm glad they were everything you hoped they'd be. They look terrific!

Carol Peterman said...

They were just what I needed after a rainy weekend. Yours looks so beautiful, especially the peach version, I want a taste of that!

mike said...

Biscuits are so flakey sometimes.... I mean "picky". The trick is to not overwork things (easier said than done). Both your finished shortcakes look magazine quality - truly! Hope you enjoyed your "recipe in the TWD spotlight". I can't wait until my pick comes around. I'm sure I'll be 60 or something like that....

Clivia said...

The perfect seasonal dessert. Awesome choice!

natalia said...

Ciao Cathy ! thank you for hosting !! I'm still not done but have everything ready .
You are a great sister too !!

Romaine said...

I'll take some of the peach, please. That looks so, so good. I think you may have picked one of the most popular recipes ever.

Mary said...

Great pick. We all really enjoyed it and will make it again and again. Hooray for Strawberry Season!

pinkstripes said...

Thank you so much for the perfect pick. You're amazing.

Cakelaw said...

These were fabulous Cathy - a great pick.

Gabe's Girl said...

Loved this pick! Very family, budget, and time-friendly. I am thinking of chocolating this babies up! I love your peach variation. Awesome!

Cristine said...

Thanks for a great pick! Your shortcakes look amazing!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

mmm, these were so good-- thanks for the pick! i must try these again when the peaches are good here...that looks fab!

Audrey said...

I'm not surprised by what you instinctively picked...it's comfortable, happy, sweet, appealing to a lot of people, thoughtful (no chocolate), and something to look forward to (like Tuesday mornings om a certain wonderful blog). Now, who does that sound like? Hmmm.

Yay for your turn...and for your pick. I wish I had had time to be a rogue TWD'er and bake along with you...but I'll be a rogue rewinder instead. (Whenever I see a spoiler alert I always keep reading.) I love the look of the peach variation, too.

SweetBoy said...

Job well done! Enjoy reading your blog!

The Food Librarian said...

Cathy, Yummy pick!!! - mary the food librarian

dorie said...

Thank goodness for your spoiler alert -- I was holding my breath waiting to find out how the shortcakes came out and, really important, if you liked them. Glad you and so many other TWDers were happy with them. For East Coasters they must have been the perfect pick -- the berries in the market were at their peak this weekend.

Jacque said...

Your shortcakes look fabulous!

Thanks for the great pick, it was a winnner.

dharmagirl said...

okay, i haven't made these yet, but am going to later today. i'm envying those chilton county peaches!!! thanks for the simple, delicious pick.

Prudy said...

I'm so anxious to try these, but I couldn't pull it off last nightl. I'll get to them though, especially after your stamp of approval.

Jules Someone said...

Mine never quite came together like yours, but they were still tasty. Nice pick!

hannah @ thepastrykook said...

what a gorgeous summer dessert!!

Jess said...

Excellent pick, Cathy! I loved making these - and now I want to make some more to eat with peaches, when those finally are in season up here.

Flourchild said...

Thank you for hosting and for the wonderful selection of recipes! You did good girl! HOw sweet of you to bake something non chocolate for your man! Im glad he liked them. Your cakes look delicious and the berries really look fresh and tasty!
Thanks again Cathy, your the best!!

Kimberly Johnson said...

Fantastic pick Cathy! These were the best shortcakes ever. Both of your variations look wonderful.

Rachelle @ "Mommy? I'm Hungry!" said...

These were great and so simple to make. I love your peach version, Mmm! I will have my post up later this morning, running behind here.

Sweet and Savory said...

Thanks for picking this. I want the peaches. I will have to try this again with peaches. I love peaches and what a wonderful combo.

The blueberries and strawberries are striking.

Lady Baker said...

perfect choice, my friend!!!
I have a new recipe for the Baker arsenal! ;)

Peggy said...

Cathy I am so impressed! With your pick, your artistry in displaying your finished dessert, your photography, just everything! This is absolutely the most professional post you have done! Congratulations on choosing a winning pick and I want to sample those shortcakes!! I actually want to make strawberry shortcake for my supper club this weekend but I think I'm too scared of my finished product. I'm just so impressed with yours!! Great great job!

Shandy said...

You picked a fantastic dessert! Thank you. I love your layout for this post and both your shortcakes look amazing!

Annette said...

Great pick! We really enjoyed them. I'm going to have to to try it with peaches, looks great! :)

Stephanie said...

Great selection! I loved it!

The Mortensens said...

I really loved this recipe. Thanks for a great pick!

bakingwiththeboys said...

Cathy, great pick!! Frankly, biscuits have been problematic for me in the past but all worked well this time. The whole family loved these and they will absolutely be my shortcakes from here on out.

bakingwiththeboys said...

Cathy, great pick!! Frankly, biscuits have been problematic for me in the past but all worked well this time. The whole family loved these and they will absolutely be my shortcakes from here on out.

Katrina said...

Perfect pick, Cathy. I just ate the last small biscuit with some blueberries. Love the buttery/sweet taste of these. For sure my new shortcake forever. ;)

Lauryn said...

Great job, Cathy!! Your shortcakes really do look amazing!!So glad you and David enjoyed them!!

miss kate said...

*thumbs up* Thanks for picking this one, Cathy--perfect for this time of year!

Amber Marie said...

I'm glad you're satisfied with your pick - I thought these were great!

sarahe said...

great pick--these were wonderful!

jillbert said...

Fabulous! Great pick for June when the berries are plentiful. I'm sorry I didn't get to make these. Tuesday rolls around much faster than it did in my pre-TWD days!

Erin@The Sweet Life said...

These were so good. Thanks for choosing them! I LOVE your pictures!

Engineer Baker said...

Seriously, best pick ever. Seasonal, easy, and fantastically tasty. Thank you ever so much!

AmyRuth said...

You are my hero. I can't thank you enough for choosing this little gem, a star incognito. Summer's Super Simple Star, Starring the Strawberry.... he he he
You're the best. I loved it. I shared it with my new friends at my new part time job and they loved them too. Its a good thing to have favor with the biscuit Gods don't you think?
AmyRuth

AmyRuth said...

You are my hero. I can't thank you enough for choosing this little gem, a star incognito. Summer's Super Simple Star, Starring the Strawberry.... he he he
You're the best. I loved it. I shared it with my new friends at my new part time job and they loved them too. Its a good thing to have favor with the biscuit Gods don't you think?
AmyRuth

Mary said...

This was the perfect pick for June! I loved them, and will be making them again and again with different types of fruit. Thanks!

Bits of Taste said...

This is fantastic! So much of variation and so much fun!

Jessica said...

What a great pick! I loved this shortcake recipe. It's so fun and easy to pull together and it's a repeat for sure! I love your pictures (especially the checked linens you used!!!!) and your shortcake variations look wonderful!

Jodie said...

Thanks for the pick!

Emily Rose said...

fabulous pick! I love that the recipe made so many because now I have a freezer full too! your pictures are lovely too!

TeaLady said...

This was a perfect pick for this time of the year. Wanna make them soooo bad.

Great pictures too.

Nancy/n.o.e said...

How cool that the "did I really pick that recipe?" turned out to be so fabulous that it could have been a "I've always wanted to bake this and look how great it is" type of pick! Loved your two versions and your process pictures. I always have more pieces the size of flour than any of the other specified sizes of dough pieces. In fact my dough never got to the soft stage but we still loved the shortcakes, even though they were quite crumbly.

My post is up, and there might have been some backdating involved but I'll never say...

margot said...

Your shortcakes look fantastic! This was such an excellent selection for this time of year, they were so good!

spike. said...

totally amazing recipe. my bf had three oversized shortcakes in one sitting. pretty sure he's at home finishing the last one for breakfast.

Piggy said...

Thanks for the great pick, the shortcakes are really delicious!

Jaime said...

thanks for hosting! i have a new go-to recipe for shortcakes now :)

Beth said...

AWESOME pick! What a perfect choice for summer. I threw them together last night and we really enjoyed them w/fresh strawberries.

LESAPEA MUSINGS said...

Perfect for my kids to enjoy. Thank you so much. I'll make a fresh mango compote to with these.

Lisa

Mimi said...

You sure picked a winner this week. Thanks for hosting.
Mimi

Joy said...

I'm sorry I'm late with posting - but thanks for the great pic! The family loved these :)

Your strawberry-blueberry combo looks fantastic!

Nickki said...

I loved this recipe with a passion! Thanks for such a wonderful pick :-) I am definitely going to try the shortcakes with peaches next time, that looks insanely delicious!

Lynnylu said...

You know I just saw the instructions for patting the dough down flat! What was I thinking? Thanks for such a great pick-perfect timing for the fresh berries coming in. Yours look perfect! I'll make the peach one next time.

Chef Dennis said...

those shortcakes look sooooooo good!! you had me with the berries then you added peaches.....you are a Goddess!!
thanks so much for sharing, and I am so happy to have found your blog!

Elle said...

What a perfect pick for summer fruit season! Had not made these so it is good to know that they work well with the freeze the dough method...which means more shortcakes over the next few weeks! Thanks! Both your versions look delicious!!

Kayte said...

Okay, so I finally got around to making these today and see that I am the last person on earth to do so apparently. Too many graduation party desserts. This was one great post! I loved the photos, the styling, the process photos, David and E at the market (yes, I see her little head there popping up), and gave you a fair salute re your amazing choice of coordinating linens with food on my blog. Great pick...we bow to your expertise in selections. This and Shrimp on the Floor are just about the best things going.

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Pamela said...

I'm sorry I'm so late in leaving a comment. I LOVED THIS RECIPE!! Yes, I'm shouting this at you, but it's only because I loved it so much. :o) Your pictures are fabulous, Cathy! Love the peach shortcake pic...so pretty. Thanks for a great recipe choice. I now have 6 unbaked shortcakes in the freezer, ready for when the need arises.

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Anne said...

Oh we loved these Cathy! And your photos are so pretty- I especially love the color coordinating napkins (too cute!) Hope you guys are enjoying your summer!

Beth said...

There's nothing like desserts that feature fruit. These shortcakes were wonderful. Great recipe choice!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
My dear friend sent me to the TWD blog when she learned that I had bought the book "From My Home to yours".

I actually tried my hands at making the shortcake an hour ago and it was a total failure! The shortcake came out looking good on the outside but the inside was SO not cooked.

So, in an attempt to redeem back my self confidence, I would like to know what I did wrong.

Here is my analysis:
- I had to use regular cream instead of heavy cream (is that it??)
- i measured out 1.5 cups but it didn't create a sticky dough at all. Majority of the mix was well... still a mixture of the ingredients
- I made the dough mount like a ball without flattening it ( I did try with a second batch with it flattened and the inside was also not cooked)

So, any tips you can offer me would be much appreciated!

Really really amateur baker

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