Québec and Ontario strawberries are out. They are sweet, juicy, ripe and very red.
My mother makes a strawberry shortcake that is more like a traditional cake, but I prefer this version, where the pastry is dense, more like a scone than a cake, ”short of being a cake”. The addition of candied ginger in the dough gives a very subtle ginger kiss and spikes the taste of the strawberries ever so gently. For this recipe, do not chop the ginger too finely, otherwise, you will not taste it. I really suggest you try this. JB gives it thumbs up.
Back when I was in med school, I did not have time to watch a lot of television so we did not have cable. We only had two French networks and PBS. On Saturday morning, I would not miss an episode of Hometime, This Old House followed by one hour of cooking shows. Ciao Italia was definitely one of my favorites. Then came along this young woman, owner of a bistro somewhere in the USA, and she was the one who made this little delight. I don’t remember exactly how it was done so I adapted a generic dough recipe. Her name escapes me but I remember her recipes were very inventive and a few of them have become classics at home. If anyone knows who I am talking about, please tell me. Her show must have aired late 1980′s or early 1990′s. Now you know how old I am.
For the dough:
2 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
2 tbsp candied ginger, coarsely chopped (see above)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut in little cubes
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg plus one tbsp water, beaten (for brushing)
For the cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
1. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest and candied ginger.
2. Add the butter and break it up with your hands until the butter is the size of peas.
3. Add the buttermilk and mix with your hands. As soon as the dough comes together, transfer the content of the bowl on a work surface. Working with a pastry cutter, fold the dough over a couple of times to create layers. This will make your dough flaky.
4. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll the dough to about 2 cm and cut in squares or rounds, depending on how you feel.
5. Brush with the egg wash and cook in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until brown.
6. Beat the cream to soft peaks, add the sugar and vanilla. When the cakes are cool, cut them horizontally. Assemble the shortcakes by layering the bottom half, cream, strawberries, more cream and the top of the cake. Add more candied ginger on top of the cream if you want. Enjoy!
Makes 8 shortcakes.