With June, strawberry season comes into full swing in Ohio. I love this… As with most produce, locally grown is so much better than shipped in, as the produce can ripen before being picked. Plus, I like that I can talk to the farmer that actually grew the food.
I got strawberries on the way home from work this year, at a farm north of Xenia, Ohio, from Doug Anderson of Anderson Farms. I took a photo of him for a Flickr project called ’100 Strangers’, where participants agree to take photos of 100 people they don’t know, but they have to ask the people for permission first. For some, it’s an exercise in talking to unknown people; for me, it’s just trying to take better photos of people quickly.
Back to the strawberries… The strawberries I picked up with small and uniform in size and color. Obviously not big, commercially grown berries… a good thing! They were ripe when I got them, unlike grocery store berries typically are.
The shortcake recipe is simple and easy. I prefer biscuit-style shortbread, though my wife prefers something lighter. I think the thicker texture soaks up the strawberry juice really well. The basic recipe is:
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp cold butter, cut into small chunks
- 4 tbsp cold water
Put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the chunks of butter a little at a time, either cutting in with a pastry blender or mixing by hand until the texture is kind of like cornmeal. Add in just enough water to form a stiff dough.
I baked this on my Big Green Egg, so I had it fired up already and running at 425 degrees F. I formed it into individual shortbreads, but it can be baked as a rectangle, and I put it on parchment to make it easier to take on and off the stone on the egg. To sweeten the shortbread, if desired, it can be topped with a bit of sugar after it comes off the cooker, after being brushed with melted butter (optional). The shortbread takes 12-15 minutes to bake.
While the shortbread was baking outside, my wife came up with a great way to prep the strawberries. Instead of slicing each berry by hand, I used an egg slicer to evenly slice the berries. They were so sweet and juicy, I didn’t macerate them with sugar; I just left them as they were… sweet and juicy from the farm market!
To top the strawberry shortcake, I put heavy whipping cream in my stand mixer with some vanilla syrup, like what’s used for cappuccinos… about 2 tablespoons for a cup of cream. With the whisk attachment, I whipped the cream until it was nice and thick and formed soft peaks on the whisk when removed. Then I piled it on top of the strawberries.
This is one of the great things about summer in Ohio… The seasonal foods are great! I can find decent strawberries other times, but they’re nothing compared to locally grown berries that are handpicked when ripe.