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Strawberry Shortcake

I am looking for some suggestions or comments regarding Strawberry Shortcake. I am going to be hosting brunch a few times in the next few weeks and am toying with the idea of serving it. There are a few variations that I have been looking at, but I can't make up my mind. They are all a bit different....

Option 1: Strawberry Shortcake made with Angel Food Cake (and mascerated fresh strawberries & whipped cream)

This was my first idea, but it would involve the purchase of an angel food cake pan, which I would rather not buy since I really do not have much room for storing various novelty baking dishes.

Option 2: The Strawberry Shortcake from Rustic Fruit Desserts

This sounds good and I'm guessing it is a more traditional strawberry shortcake. The cakes contain regular white flour but also cornmeal and have a sugar coating. You cook them on a baking sheet and then cut the cooled biscuits in half to assemble the dessert. Has anybody made this? I think because I have only had strawberry shortcake with angel food cake and pound cake, I'm having a hard time imagining it made with a biscuit containing cornmeal.

Option 3: Strawberry Shortcake with Chiffon Cake

This option, like the above two would have strawberries and whipped cream. I would use the Tartine chiffon cake recipe and would make it in a nine-inch square baking pan stead of a 10-inch springform. The benefit of this recipe is that I can have strawberry shortcake similar to in option 1, but I would not have to buy another pan.

Option 4: Tartine's Summer Fruit Trifle

This isn't Strawberry Shortcake, but it's pretty close. Has anybody made this? It looks very good and uses the same chiffon recipe as in Option 3. A few things are holding me back: I would *want* to buy a trifle bowl or at least a glass pyrex bowl to assemble it in, and I might actually need to buy a springform pan. Another thing holding me back is that it looks like a lot of work to make something that (1) might be too big to be eaten by the four of us at brunch and (2) might not keep well enough to eat later. I'd be so sad to throw out half of it the next morning after it is soggy and gross. At least with the above three options, I don't have to assemble everything right away and leftovers can be eaten the next day.

And while I'm at it, has anybody made the Bavarian from Tartine? How does that compare to a Trifle? They seem VERY similar.

Thoughts? I wish I could make all four, but the best I can do is probably to try two of them.

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  1. Option 2 is actually the most traditional strawberry shortcake, even though you have never had it before. I've never made one with cornmeal though, but it would add an interesting texture. One thing that I love about the individual biscuits is that they are easy to serve and look so nice. I cut mine in half, put the macerated strawberries on top followed by a good dollop of whip cream. After I put the top on, I add a small dollop and choose a pretty piece of a strawberry (or a whole one if they are small) to put on top of the cream. It always makes my guests ooh and aah when I serve them. I have used many different recipes over the years -- from cream biscuits, to Nick Malgeri's very easy food processor method, and they are always a hit.

    1 Reply
    1. I've really come to love shortcake made with a biscuit type dough, though I've never made one that included cornmeal. The last few I made were using a Cream Biscuit to which I added some Meyer lemon peel and a good sprinkle of sugar on top. Everyone liked the flavor whether I topped it with strawberries or my particular favorite, peaches. (They cannot be made far ahead however or the biscuits loose their wonderful texture.)

      1 Reply
      1. re: escondido123

        This recipe also uses a judicious amount of lemon peel, and I think even some orange.

      2. A "shortcake" is by definition a buttery biscuit. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortcake. Strawberry, whipcream concoctions served on angel food, sponge, or chiffon cakes may be delightful, but they are not "strawberry shortcake." So, only Option 2 is in fact a recipe for strawberry shortcake. I am a huge fan of a traditional strawberry shortcake so I'd go with option no. 2 or some other biscuit like base (e.g., without the corn meal). And, if you are concerned about leftovers, in lieu of making one large biscuit, you can make smaller individual biscuits, which makes it easier to freeze and store any left over.

        3 Replies
        1. re: masha

          smaller individual biscuits are much easier to serve, anyway. I like cream biscuits for this application

          1. re: masha

            Thanks for the recommendations. I was only really only concerned with leftovers if I made the a trifle, but it's definitely good to know that the biscuits will freeze well.

            I'm leaning towards making the authentic strawberry shortcake first. I think I'll save the trifle until I know that there will be more than four people eating it.

            Would you be skeptical of the cornmeal? It's not a huge amount and other things I've made from the book (Rustic Fruit Desserts) have been good.

            1. re: megmosa

              I'm a hardcore shortcake traditionalist - biscuit and biscuit ONLY!! - but the cornmeal addition sounds delicious. That sounds like a recipe I'd love to have myself, so I guess I need to look for that book. I've made several things with cornmeal added, such as pizza crust, and it always lends a very nice flavor and texture.

          2. Hi Megmosa, while I have never used a recipe to make strawberry shortcake, option #2 has always been my approach to it. One thing that I have always liked to add is strawberry ice cream. It always adds a lot to the dish and I know it is one of my dads favorites.

            1. I made a half batch of the Strawberry Shortcake from Rustic Fruit Desserts last night and liked it but was not in love. Next time I might try a recipe without cornmeal to see how it compares, as I can't decide if I like the texture with cornmeal or not. I'd definitely make this again though, as the shortcakes are so so easy to make and overall the dessert was very good. I had some left over shortcake today with raspberry fruit preserves that I got last week at the farmers market. Delicious!

              1 Reply
              1. re: megmosa

                We often use a scone type biscuit for shortcake, the richer dough sets off the fruit well. Since the scone/biscuit is sweeter than a traditional biscuit I put less sugar in the whipped cream.

              2. I'd definitely go with a traditional biscuit shortcake. I use this Cook's Illustrated recipe, using the food processor instructions in the opening notes of the recipe%3


                Most of the time I just cut them into squares instead of using a biscuit cutter to save having all the leftover scraps of dough. And I've also made them a day or two in advance, stored them in a ziploc bag, and then reheated a little while before serving to restore the outer crustiness of the biscuit.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gmm

                  My go to shortcake recipe is very similar, but with heavy cream. Sometimes I go with a coarser sugar to sprinkle over the top. Also, I don't bother with biscuit cutter. I just divide the dough equally, form into rough circles on the baking sheet. More rustic looking, like a scone. Freezes well, and as gmm noted, reheats well.

                  Once you try a cream biscuit shortcake, you'll never go back to those "cakey" versions.

                2. Haven't had traditional style strawberry shortcake with cornmeal in the biscuits. I use Angel Biscuits recipe and that works well. Also lets you make the dough the night before and biscuits freeze reasonably well - at least well enough for another round of strawberry shortcakes.

                  1. I prefer a lemony sponge cake as a base. I find that it does not immediately turn into "mush", as some other cakes do. Assemble your desert directly (before) at serving with a generous amount of sweetened whipped cream.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Lisbet

                      Here are two very good spots to look. From my research, I find that most recommendations are for a hot milk sponge recipe for fruit and pudding fillings.


                      1. re: Lisbet

                        Then please, please, PLEASE (said the grumpy old guy), call it Strawberry Sponge Cake, because Shortcake it simply is not!

                    2. OK. I'm another "traditionalist" when it comes to strawberry shortcake, and it's so damn hard to find! I almost never order strawberry shortcake at a restaurant anymore because of this. Anyway somebody mentioned cream biscuit upthread - can you use any cream biscuit recipe? I remember making cream biscuits for Thanksgiving a couple years back and it was super easy - I didn't even THINK that I could use that for strawberry shortcake.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: uwsister

                        Of course you can use any biscuit at all, though I think I'd avoid the canned ones! I also would not use any yeast-raised ones, since a proper short bread is not only high fat but soda-raised as well. My own choice, mentioned above somewhere, is to NOT use cream biscuits because a cream biscuit with cream on top is to me too much of a muchness, one of very few exceptions to my firm belief that "Too Rich" is a nonexistent category. If your tastes run otherwise then go for it.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Thank you - I think "too rich" is something I am willing to try!

                        2. re: uwsister

                          You can use any cream biscuit recipe, but I go toward the ones that have some sugar in them. As I mentioned, I put Meyer lemon zest in it and loved it, I also thought a little ginger would be great.

                          1. re: escondido123

                            I much prefer the cream biscuit style to cake style.

                            I did a modified version of the Fannie Farmer method recently (apparently originally a James Beard recipe). The interesting thing about it is that it doesn't have you cut any butter / solid fat into the dry ingredients. You mix heavy cream into the dry ingredients, knead it, then dip the final biscuit in melted butter before baking. The result is good, and not having to spend time cutting in the fat actually does speed up the process a bit.

                            I did a vegan version, which came out really well - I used homemade cashew cream for the "cream", and just dipped briefly in melted Earth Balance. Obviously, it would be better with butter, but I thought it came out really well. even so.

                            The Fannie Farmer recipe is similar to this one.

                        3. I'll also sing the praises of biscuits. Angel food cake is too sweet for my tastes. But I do want to point out that last year, I made strawberry shortcake "sliders" as a dessert for a BBQ, so they could be hand-held, and they were really, really popular. You don't want to pile thinly sliced strawberries on - keep them mostly whole unless they're huge. I could dig up the recipe if you wanted something more casual at some point.

                          1. I'm going to mention something a bit off-the-wall here, but really not offtopic at all: a long-gone and deeply missed cafe in my home town had as its summertime centerpiece a very special strawberry pie. This consisted of a good rich flaky crust, baked and cooled, into which was put a mixture of whipped cream and sliced, sugared strawberries. These pies were kept at the bottom of the cooler behind the counter, where they'd stay cold enough to firm up nicely, but not freeze. All the other pies (also made from scratch) sold for 15ยข per slice, more or less the universal price for pie in 1950s Illinois, but the strawberry was a quarter. They still ran out every day by mid-afternoon.

                            In loving memory of Tom's Cafe in Marshall, Illinois, and of Bill Koutsoumpas, Tom's son, who kept the place going probably much longer than he could afford to, I hereby resolve that this year's first shortcake will instead be a Tom's Strawberry Pie.

                            1. I like a hot biscuit with a little sugar in it out of the oven and split and a 1/2 inch cut of good vanilla ice cream(home made if you can) and macerated strawberries and whipped cream.

                              1. I've used rich buttery pound cake in lieu of shortcake and it has worked very well. Plus, I add a dash or two of Grand Marnier to my strawberries while they macerate.