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Mar 11, 2010 10:13 AM

Help with shortcakes for strawberry shortcakes that spread too much

In the strawberry shortcake world, there are those who like a cake-type shortcake and those who like the biscuit type. I'm in the biscuit camp, but the problem I have is that the shortcakes always seem to spread too much. I would like them to remain high so that they would be easily splittable, but mine seem to flatten out when they bake. I am essentially using a recipe for a cream biscuit or cream scone with butter cut into the flour and a small amount of sugar, baking powder, and salt and the whole thing brought together with cream. They taste good, but the presentation is poor. Any ideas would be appreciated!

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  1. Cut them a little smaller and put them in a rimmed, smallish pan. the pressure one against the other will force them to go up instead of out.

    1. I love shortcake, but I'm horrified of making biscuits. Pillsbury's frozen biscuits--brushed with cream and sprinkled with sugar--are my go-to shortcake (and they split beautifully).

      1. Are all your wet ingredients really cold? How do you mix it? I like different recipes but my latest go-to is from the Joy of Baking. I usually use a food processor but barely pulse. I've also done it in a stand mixer where I keep the bowl and attachment in the freezer. I cut the butter and keep it in the freezer until ready to put in. Similarly, I put the cream in the freezer, just enough to make it really cold but not enough to freeze. It sounds like your butter might have gotten too warm at some point but it's hard to say. Is your baking powder fairly new?

        10 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          This looks very similar to the recipe I used last time, but I will give this one a whirl. I am currently living in Cairo with no food processor and firly limited equipment, but I did use cold butter as I would for making pie crust. As far as the baking powder being new, I bought it recently, but who knows what the turnover on things like baking powder is here. Thanks for the link -- I bookmarked it. This is the height of the strawberry season here, and they are marvelous.

          1. re: roxlet

            If all else fails you can add 1-2tbls of flour to stiffen the batter because the batter shouldn't flow, and be careful not to over-mix it and create gluten.

            1. re: Kelli2006

              My problem in mixing the dough has been more in the nature of adding enough liquid to get the dry ingredients to come together rather than needing to stiffen the dough by adding more flour. I do mix as little as possible in order to prevent the formation of gluten. While the shortcakes seem to have the right consistency when they are baked, the problem is in having them flow too much while they are baking...

              1. re: roxlet

                I'm so reliant on modern appliances and haven't made biscuits by hand. Is the butter oozing out of them biscuits and making it flatter (that's what has happened to me when I haven't cut the butter in enough or let it get too warm) or are they spreading like some cookies do? If it's the latter, is the oven temperature hot when you put them in? What kind of flour are you using? Less protein will make it spread less, eg cake flour will make a taller biscuit. Are you using butter? Shortening would help (I don't know what the weather is like in Cairo right now but it would help in heat) but I do like real butter better. If the weather is hot where you are, you might try making them the way southern cooks do, with shortening and mixing with their hands.


                1. re: chowser

                  No, the butter isn't oozing out of the biscuits. I came with a pastry cutter since I make a lot of pies, so I used that to cut in the butter. I believe that the flour I used was Gold Medal (I put it in a canister, so I no longer have a wrapper), but the flour choices here are not very sophisticated, so it is Gold Medal or the other, local brand, which I have bought when I couldn't get Gold Medal. There is no protein content listed on the wrapper, though I have bought some "pizza flour" with an eye to making bread. I just assumed that pizza flour would have a higher protein content than the Gold Medal. I wouldn't have used that for the shortcakes. The shortcakes are spreading somewhat like cookies do, i.e., they remain thicker in the middle and thinner around the edges. It is unusually hot here in Cairo right now, but it was slightly cooler a couple of weeks ago when I made this for the first time here. My oven is pretty unreliable, but I did bring a digital oven thermometer, and I am pretty sure the oven was up to temperature when I baked them. Thanks for the link. I will take a look at the video.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    Try making buttermilk biscuits instead of cream biscuits. I find they rise better, though I don't know why yours are spreading too much. Maybe the extra fat in the cream makes them spread more?

                    1. re: visciole

                      I have spent many fruitless hours searching for buttermilk here. It's just not available and I would hesitate to use the milk/lemon juice sub for these shortcakes since one is mixing them quite lightly and the milk/lemon juice thing can get kind of lumpy.

                      1. re: roxlet

                        I use Saco dry buttermilk, the stuff is great. It should be available in most well-stocked grocery stores, but you can also get it on Amazon. You just mix it in with the dry ingredients and then use the corresponding amount of water for the liquid. (I actually prefer it to "fresh buttermilk," which is not real buttermilk but a cultured milk product.)

                        1. re: visciole

                          Thanks, I know the stuff, but I am in Egypt. There are no well-stocked grocery stores, lol!

                          1. re: roxlet

                            Ah! It's true I am not familiar with Egyptian grocery stores.... ;)

                            Maybe your next visitor can stash a few packets in his or her luggage. It's light-weight!

        2. Try this recipe. You won't miss the butter, and the presentation is just as nice as any scone made with butter. Make sure your ingredients are cold and that you aren't mixing too much, and you'll have lovely little cream scones for strawberry shortcakes.

          1. This may be a tiny bit late, but I love biscuit shortcakes, and found a really old recipe on how to make them, you make your biscuits (2 c flour, 4 tsp baking powder (slightly rounded) 1/2 tsp salt, 3-6 ounces of butter or to your taste the more butter the flakier the biscuit, and 7/8 cup of water (not milk or buttermilk) (7/8 cup is a full cup with 2 T removed) mix the biscuits after sifting the dry ingredients together (you can add a bit of sugar up to you, but not more than 1/4 cup) add the water, don't overmix, and then roll out and cut out the biscuits with a 3 or 4 inch cutter, place half the dozen cut biscuits on the baking sheet, butter the tops, and place the other half on top of those, bake in a 450F oven for 20 minutes and cool. the butter makes the top biscuit come off neatly and the shortcake is ready for the filling!

            By the way these work well in a BBQ but cut the time to about half as the grill with the tip acts like a convection oven and cooks faster. But its sure cooler in the middle of summer to bake them outside.