Biscuit or cake, this American classic is a strawberry and cream dream!
You might be Team Biscuit or Team Cake now, but once you make this recipe with both options, you'll have trouble choosing. Both versions feature buttermilk, which yields a tender and moist base for the Chantilly cream and macerated strawberries. Resist the temptation to make this dessert when strawberries are not in season. One of the beauties of a strawberry shortcake is to highlight juicy, red strawberries, sweetened by the sun and a pinch of sugar. Use the best heavy cream you can procure to make the whipped cream. Fresh mint is more than just a pretty accent and provides a refreshing and bright finish. Strawberry shortcake at its finest!
Equipment: cutting board; chef's and paring knives; large mixing bowls; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; standing or hand mixer, or whisk; rubber spatula; rimmed sheet pan or (1) 9-inch round cake pan; fork; pastry cutter (optional); 2½-inch biscuit cutter (optional); pastry brush; parchment paper; offset spatula; pastry bag and tip (optional)
"The following recipe is meant for either the biscuits or the cake. If you want to make both at once - a batch of biscuits and a cake - then double the cream and strawberries."
3 pints strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
zest and juice of half an orange (optional) fresh mint leaves for garnish
Chantilly Cream Ingredients 4 cups cold heavy cream (one quart)
¼ cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
If you're making Biscuits...Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons baking powder 1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
If you're making Cake...Ingredients:
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup granulated sugar
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
First prepare the strawberries. Combine the strawberries and sugar well to combine, and add if the orange zest and juice if using. Cover and refrigerate until it is time to assemble the shortcakes.
Prepare the Chantilly cream while either the biscuits or cake bakes: in the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl (using a hand mixer or whisk), whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Then beat for a minute longer until stiffer peaks form, but still soft enough to spread. Place in a piping bag, if using, and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the shortcakes.
ILOC tip: chill the bowl for 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator before you beat the cream. This will expedite the whole process. Technique, not torture!
IF MAKING BISCUITS: Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Work in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers (but work quickly if the latter so that you do not warm the butter with your fingers). Add the buttermilk and stir the mixture with a fork until a shaggy dough forms.
Place the dough onto a clean work surface and form the dough into a rectangle if cutting the biscuits with a knife, or into a circle if using a round biscuit cutter, ½-inch thick. It will be crumbly at first but as you form the shape it will form a more cohesive dough. Cut the biscuits using a knife or biscuit cutter, making clean, decisive cuts (do not twist the biscuit cutter, for example, to make the cut). Place each biscuit on the lined sheet pan.
ILOC tip: do not twist the biscuit cutter back and forth to make the cut. If you do, it might impede the biscuits from rising well, crushing those lovely layers of flour and butter you worked hard to create.
Brush each biscuit with the remaining heavy cream and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake the biscuits for 15-18 minutes until risen with golden brown tops. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes before placing on a cooling rack to cool thoroughly before assembly.
To assemble biscuit shortcakes: Right before service, slice each biscuit crosswise. Place a spoonful of the macerated strawberries on the bottom biscuit half. Top with a generous dollop of Chantilly cream. Add another spoonful of strawberries and top with the biscuit top. Add a small dollop of cream, a few strawberry pieces and a sprig a mint. Repeat with all the biscuits and serve immediately.
IF MAKING CAKE: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a cake pan with a round of parchment paper and set aside.
"If you want to make a 4-layer strawberry shortcake instead of a two layer cake, the cake batter recipe doubles easily. All you need is one more cake pan! You should have enough filling because you will want the filling layers to be thinner to make a stable cake."
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl (using a hand mixer), cream the butter, vegetable oil, sugar, and vanilla for two minutes until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in half the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, and then the remaining flour mixture.
Pour the batter into the greased cake pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the center to the touch.
Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooking rack. Cool the cake thoroughly before slicing in half to make two layers to fill the cake.
To assemble cake shortcakes: slice the cake in two even halves crosswise (if making a double batch, 4-layer cake, cut both cakes so that you have four layers). Pipe or spread 1-2 cups of Chantilly cream on the bottom cake layer. Spoon a layer of macerated strawberries over the cream and top with the other cake layer (do this two more times if making a 4-layer cake). Repeat with the cream and strawberries, or decorate with a design of your choosing. Finish with mint sprigs and serve immediately or refrigerate until service.
Makes 8 servings.