Tuesday, May 09, 2006

strawberries revisited

CI and SK came over the other night for an impromptu BBQ. Mr. Cupcake grilled up some rare steaks (I'm pretty sure I heard a few moos when they made it to the table), chicken, and vegetables for dinner. He also pulled together some bruchetta. I look forward to when tomatoes are actually in season. I'll eat them like apples. Anyway, for my part, I straightened up the apartment and made dessert. It wasn't hard for me to decide what to make. Ever since I saw the strawberries at the A La Carte Festival on Saturday, I've been completely fixated on the red berry. We bought a crate of strawberries at Costco, and I made Strawberry Shortcake.

I remember my mom would make strawberry shortcake on occasion. She usually made the biscuits out of Bisquick. Nothing too fancy, but I didn't notice because the strawberries were the star of the show. No Bisquick on this fine evening however. I consulted my trusty Baking Illustrated cookbook and made shortcakes.

The recipe wasn't hard. It's sort of like making pie or tart dough in that the chunks of butter aren't suppose to melt until it's time to bake. This was a challenge because Mr. Cupcake had the burners going and it was warm in our itty bitty kitchen. Fortunately, they turned out pretty well.

The selection of strawberries at Costco was a bit of a disappointment. The strawberries looked amazing, but didn't smell. I always use smell as the key indicator of whether or not a piece of fruit is ripe. I really wanted strawberry shortcake though and so I picked a crate that sort of smelled. As expected, the strawberries tasted like water. No problem! Just add more sugar. I dream of the day where I eat a strawberry that actually tastes like a strawberry.

I made some homemade whipped cream in my trusty KitchenAid and out came a strawberry shortcake.

Kudos to SK for the lovely presentation. And the verdict you ask? SK and CI said it was good. Mr. Cupcake said I could make it again and he wouldn't be upset. I liked the slight crispiness to the outside of the biscuit, but I think it would have been better if it was sweeter. That's an easy fix though. Overall, I was pleased with my new venture. I have been eating leftover strawberry shortcake for the last 2 days. It's not quite as good compared to the day it was freshly bake, but I have no problems gorging myself on day(s) old shortcake.

Strawberry Shortcake from Baking Illustrated

8 cups strawberries (about 2.5 pounds), hulled
6 tablespoons sugar

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface and biscuit cutter
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon half and half or whole milk
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

2 cups whipped cream

1. For the fruit: Place 3 cups of the hulled strawberries in a large bowl and crush with a potato masher. Slice the remaining 5 cups berries and stir into the crushed berries along with the sugar. Set the fruit aside to macerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
2. For the shortcakes: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, and alt to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over and process until th emixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Transfer to a medium bowl.
3. Mix the beaten egg with the half and half in a measuring cup. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Combine with a rubber spatulauntil large clumps form. Turn the mixture onto a floured work surface and lightly knead until it comes together.
4. Use your fingertips to pat the dough into a 9 by 6 inch rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, being careful not to overwork the dough. Flour a 2.25 inch biscuit cutter and cut out 6 dough rounds. Place the rounds 1 inch apart on a small baking sheet, brush the tops with the beaten egg white, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. (Dough rounds can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before baking.)
5. Bake until the shortcakes are golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the cakes until warm, about 10 minutes.
6. To assemble: When the shortcakes have cooled slightly, split them in half. Place each cake bottom on an individual serving plate. Spoon a portion of the fruit and then a dollop of the whipped cream over each cake bottom. Cap with the cake top and serve immediately.

1 comment:

mikey said...

That is the most beautiful thing I've seen in a very long time. Do you have any single sisters? Plus sized a bonus.