A Summer Classic-Adored

There is something to be said about classics. Whether they be classic songs, cars or recipes they all have a place in our homes and lives. With the sunny warmth of June upon us the sure signs of summer are approaching. People busy about the garden centres and neighbours outside waving hello and stopping to chat, all the kids a buzz about what camp they are going to this summer and the delicious juicy berry to kick off summer the humble local Ontario strawberry. You just can’t miss that classic little berry shape and deep garnet red colour with the frill of the stem and leaves on top. Not only have they hit the farmer’s market and the grocery stores, but they are becoming bountiful at local farms. Yes the U-Pick berry of choice for most is available and the crops that I saw at Springridge Farms, are looking pretty tasty. Not to mention how sweet the taste is.
I was lucky enough to go on two school field trips to the farm with the kids last week and sure enough there were a few small baskets filled with the juicy berry. “Grab them now because that’s all we are picking for today” said the sweet woman at the cash register. So my ears perked up as my daughter was pulling on my pants to get a lollipop I needed to get some baskets-2 in fact. Oh how tasty! I knew I would be making some yummy treats and enjoying most on their own or with my morning yogurt.
What a special experience to go to a farm and either pick your own berries or pick up a basket along with some fresh baked treats after the kids have played and fed the animals. It makes me want to have a farm when I think of how happy it makes me and my family. I don’t know that I would be able to run a farm, but the thought of a smaller size one that would feed my family as well as enough to share with others would be good. It’s funny because the start of each growing season I get this idea in my head. So how do I satisfy my urge? By visiting plenty of farms and farmer’s markets over the course of the summer and well into the fall too. We have such delicious local fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats to enjoy we just need to follow the trail. So where do you look? Check out this great website http://www.guelphwellingtonlocalfood.ca/ to find out about where to find local food. And some other helpful websites are http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/ and http://ontariofarmfresh.com/ to find out about farms and other great local foods and when they are available.
I really wanted to enjoy some strawberry shortcake, a very classic recipe that has been around since the 1800’s. I made it not too long ago as a cake, but I wanted to enjoy the biscuit variety that I remember was a huge favourite in my house and family friends’ homes. The shortcake name refers to the “fat”, either shortening, lard or butter that is cut into the flour to give the texture to the cake; which gives a tea biscuit or scone texture to each little cake. Perfect to enjoy as an individual little dessert for everyone, it’s like getting your own present after dinner! So here’s my twist on a classic, beginning of summer dessert.

Strawberry Shortcake

These cakes are light and moist but still a bit heavier than a sponge style cake. So I decided to crush the strawberries and use them as a sauce for the filling instead of having traditional sliced berries that ooze out. I think the texture and flavour are perfect together especially with a hint of orange rind.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes

2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (50 mL) packed brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange rind
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
¾ cup (175 mL) butter, cubed
1 cup (250 mL) milk (approx.)
2 cups (500 mL) whole hulled fresh Ontario strawberries, crushed
Small fresh whole Ontario strawberries
Fresh mint leaves

Vanilla Whipped Cream:
1 ¼ cups (300 mL) 35% whipping cream
2 tbsp (25 mL) packed brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, orange rind and salt. Using pastry blender or fingertips cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk all at once, stirring with fork to make soft, slightly sticky dough.

On lightly floured surface, knead dough gently about 10 times to bring dough together. Pat dough into ½ inch (1 cm) thick round. Using floured 3 inch (7.5 cm) round cookie cutter; cut out rounds. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Gather scraps and pat out again and cut out more rounds.

Lightly brush tops of biscuits with some more milk. Bake in 425 F (220 C) oven for about 15 minutes or until bottom is golden. Let cool to room temperature. Cut each biscuit in half.

Vanilla Whipped Cream: Meanwhile, in a bowl, whip cream, sugar and vanilla to smooth, stiff peaks; set aside. Spoon crushed strawberries over bottom halves of each biscuit. Dollop with whipped cream and top with remaining biscuit halves. Spoon a touch more cream on top of each and top with small strawberry and garnish with mint leaves.

Makes about 12 shortcakes.

To crush the strawberries use a potato masher and mash them in a shallow dish in a single layer. You can drizzle the juice onto the shortcakes before spooning the crushed berries on bottom layer.

You can make the shortcakes ahead of time just cover the assembled shortcakes and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Let them come to room temperature before eating.

Letting the biscuits cool will help prevent the whipped cream from melting from their warmth.


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