Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Simple Goodness

I think one of the first African-American heritage cookbooks I purchased was Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine. It really inspired me to get serious about preserving my family's recipes. I used it to make my first strawberry shortcake. I became a fan of the biscuit version. The sponge cakes just don't do shortcake justice.

I walked into the grocery store recently and spotted a huge container of strawberries on sale. It was on!!! Strawberry shortcakes would be a treat. It was 66 degrees outside in April and I was going with the flow. It was the warmest it had been in Chicago since October.

After my recipe search, I chose one from Cook's Illustrated. I was intrigued by the recipe because the biscuit contained an egg. The recipe promised a "light, rich, cake-like biscuit." How could I not try it?

The recipe starts like all biscuits: mix the dry ingredients. I'm new school; biscuits and pastry dough are a job for the food processor. Miracle is always up to the task. As always, baking is a science; weigh your ingredients.
Cut up your frozen butter. I like to use a bench scraper for this.
Toss the butter in the flour mixture. Process using short pulses until the mixture has a sandy texture.
Dump the contents of the food processor into a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Add the liquid ingredients.
Mix with a spatula, gently, just until large clumps form.

Flour your board.
Place the dough on the board and knead it just enough so that it comes together. Be gentle! Shape into a rectangle.

Flour the biscuit cutter and make your rounds. Place them on a baking sheet and brush with a beaten egg white. Sprinkle with sugar.

Here's my secret. This was a recipe for six. I chose a smaller cutter and made 12 rounds instead. When you have a sweet tooth as big as mine and you live alone, you have to learn how to make desserts work for you. So now when I want something sweet, I can have a full-flavored dessert with a fraction of the calories. I'm all about mini sizes and individual portions.

Bake at 425 degrees.
Aren't they cute?

As you bake, you can get started on the berries. After they have been washed and hulled, grab your potato masher and go to work on a third of them.

Slice the remaining berries. Mix the crushed and sliced together. Sprinkle with sugar. I used some Splenda.

Let these sit for no more than two hours. They will keep longer than two hours, but the texture will degrade.

Let's whip some cream. I shamelessly admit that I stole this idea from Katy at Sugarlaws.com: balsamic whipped cream. Just add some balsamic vinegar along with your sweetener (Splenda for me) before you whip the cream. I enjoy strawberries with balsamic vinegar, so Katy's post sounded promising.

I think were ready to bring it all together. Split the biscuit by hand. Add a generous amount of strawberries.
Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Wow. Take a bite of the new season.

Tools of the trade:


Katy said...

it's not stealing, it's inspiration! strawberries and balsamic were made for each other. these look awesome!!!

francesca said...

I love strawberries with balsamic vinegar, i usually eat them al least once during spring time, but tour recipe has something special that i really want to taste