A true Strawberry Shortcake is not a layer cake, it’s a biscuit topped with fresh berries and mounds of whipped cream. I put a secret ingredient into the berries for the best shortcake recipe ever! It’s the perfect early summer dessert.
When I say that Strawberry Shortcake is a classic dessert, I’m not kidding. Shortcake recipes were found in English cook books as early as 1588. I can imagine that shortly after folks starting making shortcakes, they starting topping them with strawberries and cream. I mean, why wouldn’t they?
So, can there be anything new to say about a dessert that’s been around for more than 500 years?
Well, I like to think my Strawberry Shortcake recipe stands out for 2 reasons; the special Shortcake Biscuit recipe and the secret ingredient that I add to the berries.
If you’re a regular reader you might have guessed that the secret ingredient is liquor. I swear it’s not about making a boozy dessert, not that there’s anything wrong with a boozy dessert.
Tips for making great Strawberry Shortcake
- Use seasonal berries for the best strawberry flavor. Supermarket berries will work ok, but I think we all know that nothing, I mean nothing, tastes like a vine-ripened seasonal strawberry.
- Macerate the berries. “Macerate” just means to toss the berries in sugar and allow them to sit for a while. The sugar will draw out the juice to create a delicious syrup, and the berries will draw in some of the sugar. This not only makes the berries taste better, it keeps them from completely breaking down and turning into strawberry mush. You can read more about how this works in my Peach Pie post.
- My secret ingredient…. drum roll please… a little hit of Grand Marnier. Not only does the hint of orange play well with the berries, the alcohol enhances other flavors. The Grand Marnier makes the strawberries taste more strawberry-y.
- If you don’t do alcohol use a splash of orange juice or lemon juice. It doesn’t work quite the same, but the acidic juice will brighten the flavor of the berries.
- Don’t use just any old biscuit recipe, use my shortcake biscuits which are made especially to soak up the strawberry juice. These biscuits are a little sweeter and more cakey than regular biscuits.
- Add a splash of vanilla to the whipped cream for a luscious topping.
Strawberry Shortcake is the perfect make-ahead dessert.
- Though the shortcakes come together quickly and can be made the day you’re serving them, you can make them a few days (or even weeks) before the party and freeze them. Defrost and reheat in the oven to revive the texture.
- The strawberries can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated.
- The day of the party all you need to do is re-warm the shortcakes and whip some cream.
- Set out the biscuits, berries and cream and allow guests to build their own Shortcake.
- If you’re not hosting a party, make the shortcakes and freeze any leftovers for later.
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- 1 quart ripe strawberries, stems removed
- ¾ cup (6 oz, 170g) granulated sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28g) Grand Marnier or orange juice (optional)
- 2 cups (1 pint, 473 ml) heavy Cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 12 Shortcake Biscuits, baked and cooled to room temperature.
- Slice the berries and place them in a large bowl, toss in ½ cup of the granulated sugar and the (optional) Grand Marnier or orange juice. Set the berries aside for at least 30-60 minutes to macerate.
- Whip the cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.
- To serve, split open the shortcake biscuits. Top each biscuit with some berries and juice then top with a dollop of cream.
- 2 cups (10 oz, 285 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (9oz oz, 260 g) cake flour
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 55g) granulated sugar
- 2 stick unsalted butter (8 oz, 230 g), cold, cut into 1/4" slices
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups (350ml) buttermilk
- Extra buttermilk and sugar for topping
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 1/2 sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder and sugar. Toss the butter slices into the flour.
- Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until the pieces are no larger than a pea.
- Whisk the eggs into the buttermilk. Pour the buttermilk into flour mixture. Toss the mixture with a spoon or spatula until it begins for form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and lightly knead about 5-10 times to bring the dough together. This is a very wet dough so keep your hands well floured and use a light touch while kneading. You don't wan't to knock all the air out of the dough.
- Use your hands to pat dough to 3/4" thick. Cut rounds with a 3" biscuit cutter. Gently knead together the scraps to cut remaining biscuits. Place the rounds on the sheet pan. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes (see note).
The shortcakes are best the day they are baked. To work ahead you can freeze the shortcakes as soon as they are cooled. Defrost and rewarm in the oven before serving.
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