Nothing says summer like fragrant, juicy, local strawberries. Perhaps the best way to showcase their beauty is with an old-fashioned strawberry shortcake. There are so many versions of this recipe these days, using pound cake, angel food cake or sponge cake, but we love the traditional biscuit-type shortcake. Hereís a recipe that is easy to do, but so divine that everyone will think you spent the day in the kitchen!
First, macerate your berries:
1½ quarts fresh local strawberries, rinsed and sliced. Reserve 8 nice ones, with stem on, for garnish
1/2 cup strawberry wine
1/2 cup sugar
Toss all together and let sit at room temperature while you make the shortcakes. Refrigerate if youíre making ahead to serve later.
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup white sugar (reserve a tbsp for the tops)
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1" cubes
1 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a mixing bowl, stir dry ingredients together. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or a fork until itís the size and consistency of large peas. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla to break up the eggs. Add three-quarters of wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir together to form a ball of dough. Donít overmix Ė it will toughen the shortcakes. Add a little more wet mixture if you need to; better too wet than too dry. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and roll to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 3" rounds with a cookie cutter or floured glass (should make 8 rounds). Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving room between the biscuits for them to spread. Brush tops with remaining wet mixture and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 12-15 min. until risen and golden. (Check after 12 minutes to be sure they don't burn.) Cool biscuits on a rack.
1 cup 35% whipping cream
1 tbsp grand marnier (or your favourite liqueur)
While your biscuits cool, whip cream with liqueur until fluffy and holds a peak.
To assemble, slice each biscuit in half laterally. Put a little dab of cream on the plate and anchor the bottom of the biscuit on the cream. Spoon on some of the berries with juice, Top with a spoon of cream. Cover with top half of the biscuit. Add another spoonful of the berries and juice. Top with a little dollop of cream and place one whole strawberry on top. Serve and enjoy the gasps of excitement of your guests!