James Beard’s shortcake

From The James Beard Foundation

“There can be no dessert better, only fancier” believes James Beard. I wholeheartedly agree.

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James Beard had an astounding influence on the food culture of America. He was one of the first foodies, led the way for American cuisine, appeared on the first food program on television in the 1940’s, and was a believer in local cuisine, among many many other things. And his recipe for strawberry shortcakes happens to be my very favorite.

As a lover of all things strawberry shortcake, I have made many shortcake recipes over the years. Most are dense, lacking in shape, and serve little purpose to enhance the dish. But not these. These shortcakes are cut out into beautiful rounds, slathered with butter, and coated in sugar that while in the oven, turns into a crackly, crunchy, sugary lid. Besides the sugar on top, these are not too sweet, which makes them the perfect accompaniment to summers naturally sweet, ripe strawberries (and a little homemade whipped cream, of course). They have butter mixed in, cold butter, as in flakey like a pie crust butter. And these are not dense at all, but richly layered. The secret? Using cold butter in the dough, and working quickly to make sure the butter doesn’t melt. The cold butter puffs and expands, creating flakey layers while in the oven. Yes, please.

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Here we go!

Sift together the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder into a bowl.

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Add 6 tablespoons of the chilled butter pieces and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mix until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs.

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Add the sieved hard-boiled egg yolks and the cream; gently mix until it the dough just comes together.

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Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead to make a smooth dough (about two or three turns).

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Pat down the dough to make a 1-inch-thick round. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch-round cookie cutter, cut out 6 shortcakes.

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Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of sugar. Place the shortcakes on a plate lined with waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

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Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Transfer the chilled shortcakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

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While the shortcakes cool, prepare the fruit filling and whipped cream: place the strawberries in a glass bowl and add the sugar. Gently stir and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whip the cream and sugar together in a medium bowl until the cream just begins to thicken.

Using a fork or serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half lengthwise. Place the bottom halves on 6 plates and generously spoon the macerated fruit and juices over them. Top with a heaping dollop of lightly whipped sweetened cream. Top with the top halves of the shortcakes.

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Yield: 6 shortcakes

Ingredients

Shortcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a small mesh sieve

3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Fruit Filling:

3 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved or quartered, depending on size

2 tablespoons sugar

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

Directions

Sift together the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder into a bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the chilled butter pieces and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mix until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Add the sieved hard-boiled egg yolks and the cream; gently mix until it the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead to make a smooth dough (about two or three turns). Pat down the dough to make a 1-inch-thick round. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch-round cookie cutter, cut out 6 shortcakes. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of sugar. Place the shortcakes on a plate lined with waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Transfer the chilled shortcakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

While the shortcakes cool, prepare the fruit filling and whipped cream: place the strawberries in a glass bowl and add the sugar. Gently stir and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whip the cream and sugar together in a medium bowl until the cream just begins to thicken.

Using a fork or serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half lengthwise. Place the bottom halves on 6 plates and generously spoon the macerated fruit and juices over them. Top with a heaping dollop of lightly whipped sweetened cream. Top with the top halves of the shortcakes.

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Published by

girlkneadsbread

My adventures with bread and the deliciousness of life.

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