Strawberry Shortcakes Are Perfect Exactly As They Are
Rochelle Bilow, recipe by Chris Fischer, photo by Peden + Munk
All right, you re-thinkers of classics, you champions of nouveau cuisine: We’ve let you deconstruct lasagna, resulting in nothing more than frilled noodles, a curled shaving of cheese, and smashed cherry tomatoes on a plate. We’ve let you had your way with chicken pot pie, and we even said nothing (nothing!) when you swapped in low-fat Greek yogurt for half the amount of ricotta in our cheesecake.
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Well we’re not going to sit still one minute longer: You cannot have our strawberry shortcakes! They are perfect, exactly as they are. Where would they be without their dense, flaky biscuit-like cakes? Where would we be without a sugary-tart compote and fresh, sliced berries strewn over it all? WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT WHIPPED CREAM? Listen, all we’re saying is that some things are perfectly perfect, just the way they are. Strawberry shortcake is one of them.
STRAWBERRY BASIL SHORTCAKE
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg, beaten to blend
Berries and Assembly
- 1½ pound fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered (about 3 cups), divided
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 sprigs basil
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
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Shortcakes: Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work in butter until the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Add cream and mix until dough just comes together (it will be sticky).
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 12x4” rectangle about ¾” thick. Cut out rounds with a 2½” biscuit cutter, re-rolling scraps as needed to make 8 rounds. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash. Bake until tops are golden brown and shortcakes are cooked through, 15–20 minutes.
Berries and Assembly: Coarsely chop 2 cups strawberries (use any bruised or less perfect ones) and cook with 2 Tbsp. sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries are softened and mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Let berry compote cool.
Meanwhile, toss basil, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and remaining 1 cup strawberries in a medium bowl and let sit until fruit begins to release juices, 10–15 minutes. Discard basil.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream, crème fraîche, and remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar to soft peaks, about 4 minutes.
Split shortcakes and fill with berry compote, whipped cream mixture, and macerated strawberries.