Real Southern Strawberry Shortcake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    6

    servings

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

I suppose there are Southerners who stoop to using those small commercial sponge cakes to make strawberry shortcake, the way most people in the country foolishly do, but I don’t know any. Genuine Southern strawberry shortcake is and always has been made with only one style of bread: split and buttered baking powder biscuits. Nor do I know any respectable Southern cook who would destroy a strawberry shortcake with something so atrocious as Cool Whip instead of fresh whipped cream. And, finally, shortcake prepared with anything but fresh, ripe, sweet strawberries (no white cores) defeats the whole idea of strawberry shortcake, meaning that serious folks make strawberry shortcake only when summer berries are at their peak. In short, Southerners are unapologetic elitists when it comes to the ritual of strawberry shortcake—always served warm, of course.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • cup half-and-half
  • Butter for spreading
  • 4 cups fresh, ripe strawberries, rinsed, hulled, sliced in half, and sugared to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks

Method

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Add the butter and, using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the mixture till crumbly. In a small bowl, combine the egg and half-and-half and beat till well blended, then add to the flour mixture and stir till thoroughly moist. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead very briefly. With your hands, pat out the dough to about a ½-inch thickness, then, using a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 6 biscuits. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake on the upper rack of the oven till slightly brown on top, about 12 minutes.

While they’re still hot, split open the biscuits, spread lightly with butter, and arrange close together on a crystal cake plate. Spoon the berries and cream onto the biscuits and serve while still warm. (For attractive individual servings, prop one biscuit half at an angle on the other on small dessert plates and spoon berries and cream over the tops.)