Sometimes I need a break. My life is filled with work, homework, friends, social events and so many other things that make my life amazing and rewarding, but also quite stressful.
In order to keep myself grounded, I need a creative outlet. I can’t draw or paint or anything remotely artistic in that sense, but I can construct an amazing dish. Cooking, especially as a student in a student kitchen and on a student budget, draws out originality and ingenuity. You have to be resourceful with what you have in your kitchen and the ingredients you buy. And you still have to make something both beautiful and delicious.
If you’re sick of cooking by necessity with your standard ingredients, whatever those may be, I encourage you to try out an exciting recipe for a food you love, but don’t get to make very often. Cook for fun! That suggestion might seem foreign to you (often we’re told to read, dance or write for fun), because who has time? But if you have a kitchen, there’s a whole world of culinary concoctions at your fingertips. Try out a recipe that looks intimidating, and nine times out of 10, when you get to the last step, you’ll find success. You’ll learn new techniques, artistry and finesse that’ll transform all your subsequent recipes into masterpieces. And at the end you get to eat it.
These strawberry shortcakes are the perfect place to start. With minimal ingredients you can create something gorgeous and unbelievably decadent in about an hour. After you master the technique required for these biscuits, you’ll have the skills necessary to make any pie crust, savory biscuit or scone.
But let’s talk about why all these components work together. The first and most important thing about this recipe is texture. Biscuits are the perfect base for this dessert because they simultaneously hold up to and absorb the strawberry syrup. You end up with strawberry steeped, but not soggy, biscuits. The heavy, sugary syrup juxtaposes the light, airy whipped cream and the fluffy, almost savory biscuits perfectly. The biscuits and whipped cream should be only slightly sweetened to oppose the cloying strawberries.
This dessert truly does have everything and you’ll get an avalanche of likes on Instagram.
Let’s get started.
What you’ll need:
For the biscuits (makes 6-7):
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of salted butter, very cold and cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup cream or whole milk (you may need more or less of this depending on how easily your dough comes together — keep some extra on hand)
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
For the strawberries:
1 pound fresh strawberries, quartered
2 tablespoons sugar
For the whipped cream:
1 1/2 cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
Pastry blender (optional)
Rolling pin or wine bottle (I used an aging bottle of Cupcake vodka)
3 inch diameter biscuit cutter (I used a 1/2 cup dry measuring cup)
What you’ll do:
- Dump all your dry ingredients for the biscuits into a large bowl.
- Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work in the cold cubed butter until the mixture looks like coarse sand with plenty of visibly large pieces of butter. I always use my fingers and rub the pieces of butter into the flour between my palms. Make sure not to handle the butter for too long otherwise it’ll melt. You need the butter cold so that when it melts in the oven it’ll create pockets of air and make your biscuits fluffy and light.
- Add in half of the cream and stir it in using a knife. Add in the rest of the cream and begin to bring the dough together with your hands. If you need more cream, add it in about a tablespoon at a time so that you don’t add too much, which could cause your biscuits to not rise properly and create too wet of a dough.
- Bring your dough together into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for 30 minutes. This is an important step! You’ve been handling the dough for a good amount of time and we need the butter to be solid when we put the biscuits in the oven.
- Now would be a great time to preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the dough chills, let’s take care of our strawberries. Hull and quarter your fresh strawberries and put them in a medium bowl with two tablespoons of sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
- After 30 minutes remove your dough from the fridge and place it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out with your rolling pin, wine or vodka bottle until it’s about 3/4-1 inch thick.
- Cut out six biscuits with your 3-inch biscuit cutter or other like instrument and place on a tray that’s been buttered or lined with parchment paper.
- Beat your egg with a splash of cream to make an egg wash and brush liberally on top of your biscuits. Place in the oven for 17-20 minutes (mine took 20 minutes).
- Meanwhile, take the strawberries out of the fridge and lightly mash them into the syrup that has formed with a fork. Place back in the fridge until assembly.
- For the whipped cream, put your cream and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and whisk until you have soft peaks. Put in the tablespoon of sugar and whisk until you have shiny, stiff peaks. Make sure to not over-whisk your cream because you will make butter.
- Remove your biscuits from the oven when they’re golden brown and well risen, then move them to a cooling rack to cool for about 15-20 minutes.
- Slice your biscuits in half and pile on strawberries and whipped cream. Dig in!
Sasha Ashall is the assistant blog editor. Contact Sasha Ashall at [email protected].