Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't tell my Dad, but I made Shortcakes.

Lookie what my dad brought me today:

My dad's family has always grown strawberries. In fact, my grandmother's Christmas gift to us every year is a jar of her homemade jelly, usually made with strawberries out of her very own patch. She is no longer able to get out and weed her strawberries in her funny trucker hat, but my daddy and my aunt are avid strawberry growers. Thank goodness, or we'd never have jelly.

Before Dad took Joey out to the strawberries this afternoon, the conversation went like this:

Dad: Your mom and I had a nice plate of strawberries this weekend, they'll be another plateful ready this afternoon...

Amy: Oh wow...I should make some shortcake then, right?

Dad: No, Amy! NO NO NO!

Amy: You don't want shortcake??

Dad: No, NO NO! I can eat the strawberries, but if I have shortcake, then I'll have to have milk with it, maybe ice cream...NO NO NO! NO SHORTCAKE!

Amy: Ok, no shortcake. Got it.

We're all supposed to be on diets, can you tell?

Well, sorry Daddy...diet or no diet, I can't stand a plate of fresh strawberries with no shortcake. And where do we find a shortcake recipe? From the strawberry grower herself, Grandma Laura.

So, here we go.

Sift together 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar.

Cut in 1 cup of butter. I used 1 stick salted and 1 stick unsalted. While that may make me sound all detail-specific about salt, it's actually all I had in my fridge.

Some use pastry blenders, some use knives, some use food processor...I use my fingers.
Dump in 3/4 cup of sour cream and one beaten egg. Grandma Laura used milk, but you could use lots of different liquids here: heavy cream, milk, buttermilk, or any combination therein. I like sour cream for the richness and the tangy flavor...I also like using the word "therein".

Combine to form a ball. I think I kneaded this a few times to get it completely mixed. As with any baked goods, overmixing results in bread-like cakes...we want cake-like cakes. Tender, moist, melt-in-your-mouth. Crap, let's get these in the oven so we can eat them!

Pat them into something resembling a square.

Then cut into small squares. I got 16 out of this, but I'm a horrible cutter. You should see my brownies: sometimes I get 12, sometimes I get 18...it's a crapshoot. Yours will be nice and even and of uniform size.

Into the oven...350...Mine took around 25 minutes (you know I'm not good with time). Since we have the time, let's get back to the strawberries.

Here they are cleaned and stemmed. Wow, I thought there'd be a lot more...? Oh, yeah. I ate a bunch while cleaning them.

Sweeten to taste. This is about 3 tablespoons of sugar. These strawberries are sweet and have lots of flavor, but a little more sugar never hurt anyone, right?

This is another fork in the road where my grandmother and I take different paths: At this point, she would attack these strawberries with a potato masher, and let them sit in the fridge to become strawberry soup. I like them chunky, like this. I put them in the fridge for a while, and they make a little strawberry juice, but you still get the big strawberry chunks on your shortcake, and the cake soaks up the juice. Sorry Grandma.

Shortcakes are done! Hurry, get them out of the oven:

At this point, a little disappointment washed over me when I realized I should have brushed these with egg wash and sprinkled with sugar, which would have made them nice and shiny and pretty. So, you do that when you make these.

Enough with the disappointment, let's freakin' EAT!

I had whipped topping in the fridge; Fresh whipped cream would be an obvious choice, or sweetened sour cream could also be substituted for the whipped topping.

Yummy Yummy Yummy, can we please eat it?

It's so good, it'll make ya wanna turn around and slap your Weight Watchers leader.
I was supposed to just cut into it so you could see how pretty it is on the inside. I was supposed to put it in the fridge for the boys to share after supper. I was supposed to do all that, but I didn't. I ate the WHOLE thing.

Here's the recipe, in easy-to-copy form

Homemade Shortcake

(Adapted from the recipe files of Laura Sherwood)

3 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sour cream

1 beaten egg

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water (egg wash)

Sugar for sprinkling

Strawberries sweetened to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder. Cut in butter. Dump in sour cream and beaten egg, then mix to form soft dough. Knead a few times, if necessary, then pat to square. Cut into squares, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Place on baking sheets. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Since starting this blog post, I had to stop and take the boys to Mom and Dad's, and what did I find?

A big pan of shortcake!

See? Daddy couldn't stand a plate of strawberries and no shortcake either.

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