Do you guys remember Strawberry Shortcake? Well, she was Frutillitas in Argentina, which would be something like Fresita in most of the Spanish-speaking world (Frutilla meaning strawberry, the shortcake part was eliminated, because, believe it or not, there´s no tradition of eating something like strawberry shortcakes here.)
Yes, I do know that´s terrible, but what can I say?, sometimes we Argies are quite blind to sweets without dulce de leche in them.
But since I´m not as close-minded as some and I love me some strawberries with cream, and adding a shortcake to the mix could only make things more enticing (plus, I used to love Frutillitas, I even had a sticker album back in the day! hahaha)… I decided to give them a try.
So I called the one and only Jenny to come by for a movie and some strawberry shortcakes one rainy afternoon, and you know, when you have the right type of friends, they never think even for a second of refusing offers like that.
I made the shortcakes while Jenny was browsing my ever-growing collection of cookbooks and deciding on which movie to watch… which did lead to my distraction and to a little mistake on my part: I forgot to brush some cream and sprinkle some sugar on the shortcakes until I had already put them in the oven, which led to my opening the oven 2 minutes later, and I think could be the reason why the shortcakes didn´t really rise much.
But I wasn´t going to be phased by that, instead of slicing the shortcakes, I put one in the bottom and one in the top, and voilá… I think Frutillitas would be proud of me!
Strawberry shortcakes (adapted from The Essential Baker, by Carole Bloom)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (didn´t have any so I omitted this)
3 ounces (6 tablespoons, 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the garnish
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon Demerara or crystal sugar (again, didn´t have any so I used brown sugar instead)
For the assembly
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
4 cups fresh strawberries, washed, dried and hulled
2 tablespoons superfine sugar (optional)
Yields about 10 2 3/4 inch round shortcakes.
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick liner.
2. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg (if using any). Pulse a few times to blend.
3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse until the butter is cut into pea-sized pieces, about 30 seconds. The mixture should be crumbly. Don´t cut the butter too small or the shortcakes will lose their flaky quality.
4. Pour the buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup and add the vanilla. Use a fork to lightly beat the mixture together. With the food processor running, pour this mixture through the feed tube and process until all the ingredients are combined and the dough is moist, about 30 seconds.
5. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of waxed or parchment paper dusted with flour. Dust your hands with flour and shape the dough into a circle or rectangle about 3/4 inch thick.
6. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out shortcakes. Cut straight down through the dough without twisting the cutter, which seals the edges of the dough and keeps the biscuits from rising in the oven. Place them on the lined baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space between them so they have room to expand as they bake. Gather the scraps together and knead slightly.. Pat them into a 3/4 inch circle or rectangle and proceed as above to get 10 shortcakes. Brush any excess flour off the shortcakes.
7. Brush the top of each shortcake with cream, being careful that it doesn´t run down the sides and underneath. If it does, wipe it up because it can cause the bottom of the shortcakes to burn. Lightly sprinkle the top of each shortcake with the sugar.
8. Bake the shortcakes for about 12-15 minutes, until light golden. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool it completely on a rack.
9. For the assembly: place the cream in the chilled bowl of an electric stand mixer or a medium mixing bowl. Using the wire whip attachment or a hand-held mixer, whip the cream on medium speed until it´s frothy. Add the confectioners sugar and continue to whip the cream until it holds soft peaks.
10. Slice the berries thinly from top to bottom. If they are a bit tart, toss them lightly with the sugar to toss completely.
11. Slice each shortcake in half horizontally. Place the bottom of a shortcake on a serving plate and cover with a scoop of whipped cream. Place about 2 tablespoons of sliced berries on top of the cream and cover the berries with another small scoop of cream. Lightly place the top of the shortcake on top of the berries or arrange it at an angle to the bottom of the shortcake. Scatter a few slices of berries around the plate. Repeat with the remaining shortcakes. Serve immediately.
Storing: Store the unasembled shortcakes in an airtight plastic container between layers of waxed paper or on a baking sheet, tightly covered with aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 4 days. To freeze for up to 4 months, wrap the container tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.