It starts with three pints of strawberries, hulled and quartered. This is the kind of recipe instruction that I consistently underestimate. I figure this job will take in around 5 minutes, but it’s really more like 20. I’m a chronic under-estimator of time in all areas of life, so I don’t foresee this changing any time soon. Once the strawberries are quartered they’re mixed with sugar, and lightly mashed with a potato masher. The idea is to get them to release their juices without destroying them. I managed to squish out a good deal of juice without breaking more than a few of them. The strawberries are then left to macerate for an hour on the counter.
When the strawberries are swimming in their own juices it’s time to whip the creams. Heavy cream and sour cream are beaten together with some confectioner’s sugar to the soft peak stage. Then the shortcakes are assembled.
The word cake has a specific and circumscribed definition, a biscuit casually topped with whipped cream and fruit doesn’t really fit it. If the biscuits were covered in whipped cream, decoratively layered with strawberries and allowed to set up in the fridge for a while, I’d buy the argument that these are individual serving cakes. As the recipe reads this is no more a cake than a meatloaf sandwich is a hamburger.
Still, this did taste pretty darn good, and it reeked of summer. Our strawberry shortcake growing up had a very similarly textured cake, but it was a large layered affair cut into slices. I fondly remember the adventure of trying to get the slices out in one piece, and the hilarity of mom’s face as strawberries and cream plummeted toward the dining room rug. I missed that in these neat little biscuits, but as I value the carpet in my dining room maybe it’s a compromise I can live with.
As with all deserts in the book, it was too sweet. I even cut back on the recommended amount of sugar on the strawberries because they were naturally sweet and perfectly ripe. 1/3 of a cup was way too much, I should have gone with a couple of tablespoons. The extra sugar helps to pull juice out of the fruit, but it was a bit much. I really liked the sour cream tang in with the whipped cream, which acted as a nice counterpoint to all the sugar on the berries. It worked in the same way the sweet acidity of good balsamic goes with strawberries.
As I said the other day, the biscuits were a great base for this dish. The whipped creams were a winner, and you can’t go wrong with summer fresh strawberries. The Book tried to mess with the perfection of July berries, and ended up taking away from their natural goodness. Summer just wouldn’t be summer without strawberry shortcake, and this version was certainly good enough to fulfill my seasonal need.