Follow this recipe to make delicious buttermilk shortcake for dessert.
For those of you who've only eaten the sponge cake version, this is real shortcake, like my mother used to make … even if she did use Bisquick!
As early in the day as you think of it, stem a quart of fresh strawberries — or defrost your own frozen-without-sugar berries. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar over them. They'll sweeten and juice up all day until shortcake time. Then, just before supper, make the biscuits.
1 quart fresh strawberries (see preparation instructions above)
2 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil or butter
1 egg, well beaten (optional)
1 to 1–1/2 cups buttermilk (enough to make a thick, moundable batter)
Sift the dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl, work in the shortening with a fork, and add the egg if you want it. Gradually stir in the buttermilk and mix the dough only until the flour is reasonably well moistened. Spoon the batter into a heap in the center of a greased, round cake pan and bake it at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is well browned.
Allow the shortcake to cool slightly while you finish supper. Then — at serving time — cut generous wedges of short cake, split, and (if you feel extravagant) butter them. Lay each in a large cereal bowl, mound it with strawberries, and add a splash of juice. Pour milk over all.
Finally, a couple of remarks about the butter that started all this:
1. We find even table salt too coarse for seasoning butter, and prefer to use the finest we can get: a Morton product called Popcorn Salt. It's expensive (comparatively), but worth the cost for the way it blends in.
2. We'd much rather churn new than "aged" cream. We don't notice any lack of flavor in sweet butter.
Recipe from In Praise of Buttermilk Baking article MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 33.
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