Strawberry shortcakes time which means strawberry season has kicked off, so it must be winter…or summer, depending where you live. Strawberries tend to mark significant events: Wimbledon; the local Show, (although held in August, stills reaps the benefit of selling strawberries and cream to loyal annual followers); and for some reason, children’s birthday parties.
Fruit platters were always major players on the birthday party food table, and if you were really lucky, the strawberries would be dipped in chocolate. I seem to remember that this was my attempt to placate the absence of sweets / lollies. These were only included in the take-home party bags – a fabulous way to avoid the dilemma of offering other peoples children sugar treats, whilst bending to the pressure from the birthday child, that you have to have lollies at a party. Win / win, or a major copout??
Strawberry shortcakes are simple and easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. But don’t be turned off if you don’t. Rubbing the butter, sugar and flour between you fingers gives you the same result, it just takes a little longer. Shortcakes are traditionally cut in half and spread with a layer of butter while they are warm. I leave this bit out, and use them whole, sans butter, piling the strawberries and cream on top. To make the eating experience even better, its a good idea to macerate the strawberries. Soaking them in a little sugar and lemon juice makes all the difference and gives you extra syrup to pour over the dessert. Enjoy!
- 250 g self raising flour
- 60 g sugar
- 80 g softened unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 50 ml milk
- 250 g strawberries, sliced
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- juice of ½ lemon
- icing sugar
- whipped cream, to serve
- Start by preparing the strawberries: slice the strawberries and put them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of sugar and the juice of ½ a lemon. Mix through and leave them in the fridge until the shortcakes are ready.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Mix the flour and sugar together in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. If using a food processor, pulse until you get the same consistency.
- Mix the egg yolks lightly with the milk. Make a well in dry ingredients and add liquid. Work together quickly to make a soft dough. (This part is even easier in a food processor!) If the dough absolutely refuses to come together, add a little more milk. But be careful not to over do it. It may only need an extra drop for the magic to happen.
- Turn the mixture onto the bench and form into a square or rectangle shape, that you can easily divide into 4 portions. You should aim for them to be about 3cm thick. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Leave room between each one as they tend to spread. Allow to cool a little.
- Place a shortcake on each plate and pile with strawberries and their syrup. Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream.