Berries and biscuits -- beautiful

June 20, 1999|By Annette Gooch | Annette Gooch,UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

As traditional as apple pie in autumn, strawberry shortcake is an early summertime classic. In the American Midwest and New England, the ripening of the local strawberries in late May and June calls for a celebration: biscuit shortcake -- not angel food or sponge cake -- and cream to go with the berries. Heartlanders generally make their shortcake richer and sweeter than regular biscuits; New Englanders tend to spare the sugar to accent the berries' natural sweetness.

Serve this warm biscuit shortcake lavished with strawberries and cream for breakfast or dessert.

Strawberry Shortcake

Serves 6 to 8

4 cups strawberries (2 heaping pint baskets)

1/2 cup sugar (divided use)

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter

1 egg

1/3 cup half-and-half, plus extra for brushing

butter (optional)

whipped cream

sugar or vanilla-infused sugar, to taste

Hull berries and slice about 2 cups of them into halves; place halved berries in a bowl, mix lightly with 1/4 cup of the sugar, and let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour. Set whole berries aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In mixing bowl, stir together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in 1/2 cup butter to form coarse crumbs.

Beat egg with the 1/3 cup half-and-half. Add egg mixture, all at once, to the flour mixture; mix gently just until a soft dough forms; do not overmix or biscuits will be tough. Turn dough onto floured board or pastry cloth, turning dough to coat lightly with flour. Knead lightly just until dough is smooth. Pat or roll out about 3/4 -inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or small wineglass to cut dough into 2 1/2 - to 3-inch rounds.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops lightly with half-and-half. Bake biscuits until golden (12 to 15 minutes).

To serve, split hot biscuits in half horizontally, spreading cut surfaces lightly with butter, if desired. Place bottom half of each biscuit into shallow individual serving bowl; spoon sugared berries and some of the sweetened berry juice over biscuit half. Position top half of biscuit over berries; garnish with whipped cream and a few whole berries. Sprinkle with additional sugar or vanilla sugar to taste.

Pub Date: 06/20/99

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