My first guest blog/recipe comes from Emily Hendren-Allwright and is perfect for this time of year when ripe British strawberries are coming into their own. It makes a great alternative to scones or sponges and I’ll be trying it out when I get back to England.
The British do wonderful cakes, with loads of cream and jam, but I don’t often see strawberry shortcake. In America, it’s one of the high points of summer. A lot of people buy little ready-made sponge cakes in the supermarket that are specially marketed for strawberry shortcake, but to get the proper texture, you really have to make them yourself. It’s somewhere between a scone and a cake, a rich, crumbly, eggy bite.
My mother used to make them when my brother and I were small, although she had trouble keeping us away from the strawberry bowl while she was cooking. Mom could coax enough green beans and tomatoes out of our garden to feed an army, but we were never very lucky with strawberries, so she usually ended up using store-bought fruit.
4 cups strawberries
1 cup sugar and 2 T sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
8 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups whipping cream (or double cream, if you want to be really decadent)
Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C/Gas mark 5.
Rinse strawberries, remove tops and slice. Place in a medium bowl and stir in ½ cup sugar. Let them sit for about an hour to bring out their juices.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ½ cup sugar and the pinch of salt. Add the butter and rub it in until you have a crumbly texture. In a medium bowl, whisk together ½ cup cream and the eggs. Pour over the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together. Put a tablespoon of milk into the bowl containing the dregs of the egg mixture and set aside.
Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface, and gently press the dough into a large rectangle. Using a large knife, cut into 8 roughly-equal pieces and transfer them onto a baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the shortcakes with the reserved egg-and-milk mixture. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.
The whipped cream
Beat 1 ½ cups cream and 2 T sugar until soft peaks form.
Slice shortcakes in half. Spoon the strawberries and their liquid over the bottom halves, and spoon some whipped cream on top of the strawberries. Dribble a little strawberry liquid on the underside of the top halves before placing them gently on top of the whipped cream (or just lean them against the pile of berries and cream). You can top your tower with a bit more whipped cream and a fresh strawberry.