Indulging in the delightful world of desserts, there’s something uniquely comforting about the simplicity and sweetness of a classic shortcake. This timeless treat has graced tables for generations, its origins tracing back to the English biscuit-like scones
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Mix 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl.
- Add 1/2 cup cold, diced butter. Use your fingers to make crumbs.
- Pour in 2/3 cup milk and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir until it forms a slightly sticky dough.
- Put the dough on a floured surface, and pat it into a 1-inch thick circle.
- Cut out rounds using a glass or biscuit cutter and place them on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.
- Let them cool, then slice them in half. Top with strawberries and whipped cream.
With this tried-and-true recipe, get ready to enjoy the simplicity and sweetness of a homemade one. To learn more, continue reading.
What Makes It Known As Shortcake?
A “shortcake” is a type of dessert known for its crumbly and tender texture, achieved by having a high fat content, usually from butter or shortening. It can take the form of biscuits, scones, or cake-like bases. A classic example is strawberry shortcake, where the shortcake serves as a base for fresh berries and sweetened whipped cream.
The term “short” refers to the crumbly texture created by the fat in the recipe. Shortcakes are easy to make and often enjoyed for their quick preparation, especially during the summer with fresh berries.
What is the history of Shortcake?
The history of shortcake dates back to medieval times, and its evolution involves the interplay of ingredients and culinary techniques over the centuries. Here’s a brief overview of the history of shortcake:
- Origins in Medieval Britain:
- The concept of “shortening” in baking, which refers to the addition of fat to inhibit gluten formation, can be traced back to medieval Britain. The term “short” was used to describe a crumbly texture, and this technique was applied to various baked goods.
- Evolution of Shortening Techniques:
- Over time, the use of shortening techniques became more refined. By the 18th century, recipes featuring butter or lard as shortening agents began to appear in cookbooks.
- Development of Biscuits and Scones:
- In the 19th century, the concept of shortcake became closely associated with biscuits and scones. These were quick breads leavened with baking powder or baking soda, and they showcased the characteristic crumbly texture associated with shortening.
- Association with Berries and Cream:
- The classic pairing of shortcake with fresh berries and cream gained popularity in the United States during the 19th century. This combination, particularly with strawberries, became a beloved summer dessert.
- Strawberry Shortcake’s Rise to Prominence:
- The popularity of strawberry shortcake grew significantly in the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Strawberry shortcake recipes were featured in cookbooks, and variations emerged, incorporating different fruits and toppings.
- Modern Variations:
- In the 20th and 21st centuries, shortcake recipes have continued to evolve. While traditional versions with biscuits or sponge cake remain popular, modern adaptations include diverse ingredients and preparation methods.
- Global Influence:
- Shortcake-like desserts can be found in various cultures around the world, each with its own unique twist. The basic concept of a crumbly, tender base paired with fresh fruits and cream has transcended borders.
Easy Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
For the Strawberries:
- 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and sliced or quartered
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
For the Shortcakes:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/3 cups cold heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (for brushing)
- Turbinado sugar (for sprinkling)
For the Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Prepare the Strawberries:
- Slice or quarter the strawberries and place them in a large bowl.
- Cover with granulated sugar and stir.
- Refrigerate the strawberries while you make the shortcakes.
- Preheat and Prepare:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper.
- Make the Shortcakes:
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Mix in salt.
- Add cold butter and cut it into the dry ingredients until pea-sized pieces form.
- In a small bowl, stir together cold heavy cream and vanilla extract.
- Pour the cream mixture over the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead until just incorporated.
- Press the dough into a 1-inch thick circle and cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter.
- Place biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Brush the chilled biscuit tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake until golden brown (15-20 minutes). Let cool completely.
- Make the Whipped Cream:
- In a stand mixer, whip together heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
- Assemble the Shortcakes:
- Cut the biscuits in half horizontally.
- Spoon strawberries over the bottom of the biscuit and add a dollop of whipped cream.
- Top with the other biscuit half.
- Add more strawberries and whipped cream on top if desired.
Choosing the Perfect Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
When it comes to crafting the ideal strawberry shortcake, three key factors shape my preference. Firstly, simplicity is crucial I favor recipes with minimal steps and effort. Secondly, achieving the right balance between cake and strawberries is essential, with a preference for an abundance of juicy strawberries complemented by just enough shortcakes.
Lastly, the harmony of flavors is paramount the cake should be buttery, mildly salty, and perfectly complemented by sweet strawberries, enhanced by a dollop of whipped cream for that finishing touch.
Recipe Testing Overview
I conducted a comprehensive assessment of the top five strawberry shortcake recipes on Allrecipes, each offering unique approaches. Here’s a brief summary of my findings:
- Biscuit-Style Shortcake: Strawberry Shortcake
- Key Points: Utilizes a biscuit-style base with a craggy top, ideal for holding strawberries and whipped cream. While the shortcake itself lacked standout flavor, when paired with sugar-soaked strawberries and fresh whipped cream, it delivered a perfect balance.
- Recommendation: Suitable for those who appreciate a biscuit-style foundation.
- Simplest and Fastest: Easy Strawberry Shortcake
- Key Points: A childhood favorite, this recipe stands out for its simplicity, using premade sponge cakes, sugar-tossed strawberries, and store-bought whipped cream. While convenient, the sponge cakes may not match the flavor of other shortcakes.
- Recommendation: Quick and easy option, especially for nostalgic appeal.
- Most Cake-Like Shortcake: Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake
- Key Points: Offers a softer, more cake-like shortcake with a pillowy base for fresh strawberries. The addition of softened butter enhances the flavor, but overly sweetened strawberries may overpower the buttery taste.
- Recommendation: Adjust sugar levels for a softer, lighter dessert.
- Best Single-Serving Style: Chef John’s Classic Strawberry Shortcake
- Key Points: Creates individual shortcakes, providing ease of customization. The use of self-rising flour is convenient, and the overall simplicity makes it an appealing choice.
- Recommendation: Perfect for those who enjoy personalized, single-serving desserts.
- Best Overall: Skillet Strawberry Shortcake
- Key Points: Incorporates a cast iron skillet for a biscuit-textured shortcake. The addition of sliced strawberries before baking adds a delightful sweetness, making it a favorite among tasters.
- Recommendation: Despite requiring more effort, the unique skillet approach and outstanding taste make it a standout choice.
1. What is shortcake made of?
Shortcake typically consists of flour, sugar, baking powder or soda, salt, butter, milk or cream, and sometimes eggs. The ingredients are blended to create a shortened dough.
2. What is the difference between a biscuit and a shortcake?
Shortcake batter is thicker than cake batter and resembles biscuit dough, but shortcakes are unique due to the inclusion of eggs and higher sugar content, setting them apart from buttery biscuits or dry scones.
3. What is a shortcake in English?
In English, a shortcake refers to a cake or dessert that comprises a crisp cake with layers of fruit and cream.
4. Why is shortcake short?
The term “short” in shortcake comes from an old English cooking definition, referring to something made crisp with the addition of fat. Shortcake is a crisp, crumbly cake made with butter, giving it its name.
5. Is shortcake a shortbread?
No, Shortcake and shortbread share similarities, but shortbread lacks baking powder. Shortbread has a high butter content, resulting in a fine, crumbly texture, making it distinct from shortcake.
6. Who created shortcake?
Muriel Fahrion, an illustrator/designer known for her work on Care Bears and The Get Along Gang, also contributed to the creation of Strawberry Shortcake.
In conclusion, crafting a homemade shortcake is a delightful and straightforward endeavor. The simplicity of combining basic pantry ingredients, such as flour, sugar, butter, and a few others, results in a crumbly and tender base.
The versatility of shortcake allows for various interpretations, whether in the form of biscuits, scones, or cake-like textures. Whether enjoyed with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream or customized with personal touches, the homemade shortcake recipe provides a delicious canvas for both novice and experienced bakers.
Its rich history and continual evolution showcase the enduring appeal of this classic dessert, making it a sweet and satisfying treat for any occasion.