We usually associate shortcake with strawberry, but it’s equally delicious and a little more exotic when made with other juicy summer fruits. Blueberries, blackberries and peaches are all perfect shortcake fruits—their soft skins just need a little sugar to turn them into a sweet and juicy sauce. And the pastry side of the dish is really pretty easy, even if you’re not a baker. You do need to break out your rolling pin, but you’re basically making a sweet biscuit whose surface will be smothered in fruit and whipped cream. In other words, don’t sweat aesthetics. Make homemade whipped cream at the last minute, and don’t forget a sprig of fresh mint from your garden for a final garnish.
(modified from this New York Times Strawberry Shortcake recipe)
For the berry sauce:
2 pints fresh Louisiana blueberries
½ cup sugar
For the shortcake:
4 cups sifted, all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cups softened butter, plus more for brushing
1 ¼ cups whipping cream
For the whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Rinse the berries and place in a bowl. Gently crush about one-third of them with a fork to release their juices. Stir in the sugar, cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer. If longer, place in a refrigerator.
Heat an oven to 450 degrees. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork. Add the cream, and mix to a soft dough. (This can be done in a food processor.) Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for one minute, then roll out to ½-inch thickness with a rolling pin. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter or glass to cut out 12 single rounds.
Prepare a baking sheet with cooking or baking spray. Place the rounds on the baking sheet and brush the tops with melted butter. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and place the pastries on a baking rack to cool.
When ready to assemble the shortcakes, prepared the whipped cream. Add the cream to a bowl and beat until thick, adding the sugar and vanilla when nearly done.
Plate the shortcakes by placing one pastry, then adding a spoonful of berries and juice to cover. Add a dollop of fresh whipped cream and top with a second pastry. Add more cream and berries if desired. Garnish with fresh mint.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.