Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

Hello and welcome to another episode of Adventures In Baking.  For this week, I had planned for Lemon Pound Cake.  I was having my wisdom teeth removed a few days before baking day so I figured I'd want something soft (assuming I didn't burn it).  I had all the ingredients ready to go.  And then I went to Sam's Club.  And purchased 2 lbs of Strawberries.  Goodbye Lemon Pound Cake, Hello Strawberry Shortcake.

Strawberry Shortcake is a sensitive subject.  It means different things to different people.  And people are very particular about their strawberry shortcake.  To some, it means Angel Food cake with strawberries on top.  To others it means yellow sponge cake bowls the color of Twinkies with strawberries in the center.  To my childhood horror, my Grandmother presented my brother and I with a bowl of saltine crackers topped with strawberries and called it strawberry shortcake one summer long, long ago.  To me, strawberry shortcake means light, flaky pie crust pieces topped with juicy, slightly smashed, strawberries on top.  Like I said earlier, it's a personal thing.  And it pretty much comes down to how you remember it from childhood.

The ingredients.  There aren't very  many.  And I was so excited, I forgot to take a picture.  You need strawberries, sugar, flour, salt, Crisco and cold water.  Doesn't sound so good right now, but just wait for the magic.

Let's get started.  First, fill a glass with 1/2 cup water.  Place the glass in the freezer.  Just trust me.  Next, wash, hull and slice a bunch of strawberries.

Next step.  Pour on the sugar.  The amount of sugar is up to you.  The sugar pulls the juice out of the berries.  The more sugar you use, the more juice you get.  Give it a stir and set it to the side to do it's thing.  I used 1 cup of sugar for 2 lbs of berries.  If you aren't sure how much to use, you can always start small and add more a little at a time.

Final step.  The crust.  In a bowl, add 1 cup of flour for every 1/3 cup of Crisco.  I used 2 cups flour and 2/3 cup Crisco.  Add a  little salt.  Using your hands, combine the ingredients together until little crumbs form.  Now, grab that glass of water out of the freezer.  Add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is moist.  I used two tablespoons of cold water.  

With minimal handling, pat the dough into a ball.  Spread flour onto your work surface and roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Using a fork, poke holes in the dough.  Then, cut the dough into whatever shapes you want.  I generally just cut it into squares or rectangles.  My mom does circles.  You could use shape cookie cutter you'd like.  Place the shapes onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the pieces so check on the progress and remove when the crust starts to turn golden. 

Taste test. In a bowl or mug or whatever kind of container you can find, layer a few pieces of crust and top that with the strawberries. Don't forget to add a couple spoonfuls of the juice. The crust soaks up the juice and combines for a spoonful of wonderful.

The clean up.  If you were to ask people what one food says 'Summer' to them, you'd probably get a variety of answers.  For me, that one food is Strawberry Shortcake.  What's your answer?

Have a great week!


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