Summer comes early in our little town in Southern China, and right now in early March it’s already strawberry season. One of the joys of living seasonally is anticipating the various fruit seasons, enjoying the fruit to the utmost while it’s in season (and perhaps canning some for the months to come), and then looking forward to the next seasonal fruit. Strawberries will only be around for about a month, and the brevity of this season makes them all the more delicious. No woody, grassy-tasting strawberries for me in November – no thanks – I’d rather have the best tasting, melt-in-your mouth berries for a few weeks than have less than the best all year.
This is the first time I’ve made strawberry shortcake, and I gotta tell ya – this recipe’s a keeper! Cobbled together from an Epicurious recipe and a few others from around the web, this dessert couples meltingly sweet, ripe strawberries with a lemony buttermilk biscuit and fluffy whipped cream. It’s got the perfect blend of crispness from the biscuit and lusciousness from the macerated strawberries. And I love, love, LOVE the contrast of the lemon zest and the strawberries.
PLEASE don’t use strawberries that are anything less than ripe. This recipe is basically a strawberry delivery system, and if the star ingredient isn’t up to par, it falls flat.
Lemony Strawberry Shortcakes
loosely adapted from Epicurious
Sweet Lemon Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
½ tsp salt
½ tbsp grated lemon zest
2/3 cup buttermilk, well shaken, plus extra
2 pounds ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup chilled whipping cream
3 tbsp sugar
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the lemon zest and buttermilk. Fold gently into dry ingredients until incorporated.
Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat (with floured hands) into a circle about 1.5 inches thick. Cut dough into 6 wedges and transfer to baking sheet.
Brush wedges with extra buttermilk and sprinkle with extra sugar. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into middle of biscuits comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cut the strawberries into quarters (or halves if they’re small), and mix with the sugar and lemon juice. Let macerate for about 15 minutes.
Beat the whipping cream with the sugar until it forms soft peaks.
When biscuits are done, let them cool about 5 minutes, then cut them in half. Pile with strawberries and whipped cream, and serve immediately.