Recipe Review: Strawberry Shortcake

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I made a strawberry shortcake. In going back to get the link for yesterday’s post, I glanced at some reviews, and thought I’d dig into the recipe more to give my thoughts about it, because… have you met me?  I have opinions, too.

Overall, this was a good recipe—- I was a little daunted at the idea that the whole thing was from scratch, because it’s pretty easy to buy a pre-made shell and some Reddi-Whip and strawberries, but I thought since it’s a birthday and I had the itch to bake, I’d go all out. Also, honestly, I’m not a fan of strawberry shortcake, and in making it for just the two of us, I was obligating myself to eat it for at least a couple of days. I thought I might as well see if I couldn’t improve on the kinds of shortcake I’ve had, so far.

In terms of the shortcake, I was surprised that it didn’t have any shortening in it, and even more surprised that it was baked in an ungreased pan. Frankly, I also kind of expected eggs. As a result, it came together really quickly— sift together dry ingredients, add heavy cream, mix until it just comes together. I was good and followed these instructions (Hi, my name is M, and I’m improvisational in the kitchen…), and what we found was a nice, lightly sweet dough. Mom said, on trying it for the first time, that it was like a combination of pie crust and biscuits. It’s definitely biscuit-y, in my opinion, but not too crumbly. One of the commenters on the recipe said something about it being tough— I’m guessing that person mixed rather more thoroughly than the batter could take (and my apologies to that person if I’m wrong.) If you over-blend some pastries, toughness can result. Better to undermix than to overmix this one, if you had to err in a direction.

I didn’t use the square pan they called for, because it’s not a pan I own, so I baked it in a round stoneware (I checked to be sure it was safe to 400F) pie plate and cut it in wedges instead of rectangles, for serving. It didn’t stick at all, and it turned nice and golden right at the low end of the recommended cooking time. I was cooking it just before I served dinner and wanted it to stay somewhat warm for serving (if you’re going to bake something fresh, it might as well have that fresh from the oven feeling), so I pulled it out and covered it with a clean dish towel (Colorado is notoriously dry, so I try to keep as much moisture in my baked goods as possible.) It was especially good slightly warm. I wouldn’t serve it warmer than that, because it might affect the strawberries and cream.

For the whipped cream, I think I’ve made whipped cream before, but I’ve never done it when I thought I’d have leftovers. I was surprised that once the cream was whipped, I just covered it, refrigerated it, and it didn’t separate or go flat. I don’t know if it helped, but I have a metal bowl with a metal lid, and I whipped the cream in that and then used it for storage.  It’s great—it’s kind of like having a much tastier Cool Whip in my fridge. I’m kind of intrigued by the possibilities. The store I went to was out of fresh lemons, so I used lime zest in it, and it was subtle but tasty. I’m likely to mentally bookmark this recipe the next time I make whipped cream. I actually don’t even like whipped cream (which is why I usually just keep some Reddi-Whip in the fridge for mom or whomever), but if it usually tasted like this, I think I’d come around. I also have some lavender sugar that I’ve had for years without knowing what I wanted to do with it, and I think lavender whipped cream is a thing that will totally happen this fall. Possibly with the leftovers of the heavy cream I now have to play with…

Overall, the shortcake really highlighted the sweetness of the strawberries. The pastry was subtle and so was the sweetness in the whipped cream. Mom and I both liked that about it. I tend to think that every pastry is better with butter, so I’d be interested in experimenting with the shortcake to see if I could make it buttery. Or maybe, I could do strawberry shortbread, which is, honestly, more my speed. Because hello, shortbread.

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