Strawberry shortcake can be very polarizing, did you know that? People have a definitive idea of what strawberry shortcake is to them (kind of like scones – do you mean fried bread or the baked English-style scones because ohmygosh, that’s a sensitive subject). I grew up eating strawberry shortcake the only way possible: angel food cake, strawberries and whipped cream, of course. I honestly never knew there was a different kind of strawberry shortcake until I was in college and after making the only kind of strawberry shortcake worth eating for my roommates, one of them announced that “this is good and all but it isn’t strawberry shortcake.” After picking my jaw up off the floor (food was very personal to me back then, too), I received a lesson in the history of strawberry shortcake. Come to find out classic strawberry shortcake is actually made with…well…a shortcake: a buttery, tender cake that melts in your mouth and is reminiscent of, come to think of it, a scone (and not the fried kind).
I decided I couldn’t let one more Valentine’s Day go by without getting a classic strawberry shortcake fit and ready for my recipe files (or in other words, this blog). We have strawberry shortcake constantly throughout the summer, but it also makes a much anticipated appearance on or near Valentine’s Day always. Of course I couldn’t let the task go by without making sure there was a chocolate version, too. Because, yeah. Chocolate. Hello.
The end verdict (after several tries and variations including scrapping rolling out and cutting individual biscuits in favor of baking it all in one pan) is that this strawberry shortcake is unbelievably delicious. Light, lovely cake that crumbles every so slightly around the juicy strawberries and creamy pillowy clouds of whipped cream. It certainly is classic. And it is most certainly fantastic. The perfect recipe for when you want a traditional strawberry shortcake.
I’m not sure I’ll ever forego my roots – I have a very, very soft spot for the angel food variety of strawberry shortcake but I’m awfully happy to add this version to strawberry shortcakes I love and admire (it’s good enough to make it into The Best Recipe section so that should be telling in and of itself).
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For the chocolate version, replace the 1 1/2 cups flour with: 1 1/4 cup flour + 1/4 cup cocoa powder + 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
Also, the amount of strawberries (and cream for that matter) you use is really dependent on how loaded you want each serving of shortcake. I've given a general amount but increase if you'd like.
- 4-6 cups sliced strawberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk (not skim)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Combine the sliced strawberries with the sugar and vanilla. Cover and let refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to several hours).
- For the whipped cream, beat the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla together (a blender works great for this) until thick. Refrigerate until ready to use (don't refrigerate longer than an hour or so or it will get a bit liquidy).
- For the shortcake, in a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter for 1-2 minutes with a handheld (or stand) electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
- In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt (see the note above for the chocolate version).
- Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix. Pour in half the milk and mix again. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix followed by the rest of the milk. Mix in the milk and add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (don't overbake or it will be dry).
- Let the shortcake cool. Cut into squares, slice in half horizontally (like a hamburger bun). Place the bottom half on a plate, top with a spoonful of strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Top with the other half of shortcake and top with additional berries and whipped cream. Serve immediately.
Recipe Source: classic version adapted from this Taste of Home recipe (I altered it to make a chocolate version, too)