Shortcake (and variations thereof)

May 29, 2017

Strawberry shortcake with sweetened creme fraiche; yummy!

There are only three acceptable desserts for Memorial Day weekend dinners in the South:

  1. Ice cold watermelon
  2. Homemade ice cream
  3. And strawberry shortcake

Do not be bringing any cheesecake or blackberry cobbler or apple pie, no matter how American it is, up in here on Memorial Day weekend. It just ain’t right.

So we had strawberry shortcake. Because I keep buying strawberries at the market, because I keep thinking it’s close to the end of the season for strawberries, and I know I’ll miss them when it’s down to grocery store berries being all I can get. At present, Bill’s, down in Newport, is still putting out berries; they started bearing later than did the Bald Knob berries, so they’ll last a little bit longer. But not much.

For good measure, I also had peaches macerated in sugar and white balsamic vinegar (adding a splash of balsamic to the fruit extends its fridge life, and if you don’t overdo it, you don’t taste it), because I’d gotten them the week before at the market and given them a week on the counter to ripen and soften. I’m not as crazy about early season peaches as I am the later ones; the early peaches are cling peaches, they’re small, and they’re not as sweet, albeit they DO have an intense peachy taste.

(Aside. Oh, dear sweet baby Jesus! According to a commercial on TV, they now have caramel M&Ms! This is NOT a good thing, because I? Love me some M&Ms, and caramel ones would be just beyond wonderful. OK, back to the post.)

Anyway, we had strawberries, and we had peaches. I made true shortcakes, per the NYT Cooking section recipe, to go underneath; essentially, a slightly sweet cream scone, baked and cut in half. The recipe is here. I sweetened it a bit more than the recipe called for — used a quarter-cup of sugar, which gave it a barely sweet taste. Otherwise, I thought it’d taste too much like a biscuit, which is what it essentially is.

I also did not stack two together to bake them, and I’m glad I didn’t; would have been way too much bread:strawberry ratio. As it was, I rolled them to about 1/2 inch, and they doubled in height when they baked; I cut them in half and topped the cut sides with berries and juice.

They were…OK. I’ve decided I prefer my berries either over a thin slice of pound cake, or with wafers of slightly sweetened pie crust. To tell you the truth, I’d just as soon just have the berries and the creme fraiche, with no bread at all.

Speaking of creme fraiche — I’ve discovered that buttermilk and cream makes a better version than does yogurt and cream. I can use a cup of heavy whipping cream, about 1/3 cup buttermilk, shake it up, leave it on the counter for 12 hours, and it’s cultured and set up perfectly. Whisk in about three tablespoons of sugar, and you’re good to go to top any kind of fruit or dessert you wish. Or leave it unsweetened for savory applications; it’s great on a toast point with some caviar. Useful stuff, it is.

If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em still have strawberries, I hope you’re enjoying them. It’s been a good strawberry year. And I even saw blackberries at the Farmers’ Market Saturday. Methinks it may be a good year all around for fruit, which would suit me just fine.



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