In my collection of cookbooks, recipes for shortcakes are always pre-fixed with the term 'real' or 'traditional'. What is a REAL shortcake? Or, more curiously, what is a FAKE shortcake?
I had never tasted shortcake before so you could fool me any day. The recipe I used is from Nigella's 'How to be a domestic goddess' and I trust her word. If Nigella thinks this is a shortcake, then so be it!
It shouldn't need mentioning but I am a self-professed scone addict. My current recipe of choice is from the MasterChef kitchen because it doesn't involve butter. Before I learnt that recipe though, my technique for getting a quick scone fix was as follows: rub a tablespoon of butter with about 1/2 cup of self-raising flour until it forms crumbs. Add enough milk, cream, coconut milk or whatever else is lying around until it forms a sticky dough. Blob this onto baking paper and bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for about 10min till it is risen, golden and cooked through. This recipe is just an indication of course - my quantities (and subsequently, the result) varied each time.
Generally, the result was 'sort of' a scone but more crunchy, buttery and biscuit-like, especially around the outside. Not a true scone but still delicious, especially when make with coconut milk.
The purpose of me telling that story is a) to maybe encourage you to do the same and also, b) because that's what I imagined a shortcake to be like.
I was pretty much on the right track with my expectations... and that's definitely not a bad thing. Let's press forward with the recipe. The recipe below is exactly that which is provided by Nigella. When I made my shortcakes, I halved the quantities and that DID involve using just 1/2 an egg (I beat 1 egg and used half the liquid). Because that's just very confusing, I've included the original recipe here so you have the option of not meddling. Note: my shortcakes are REALLY SMALL. You can stamp yours into bigger circles to fit more strawberries.
Strawberry Shortcakes with Macerated Strawberries
Makes approx 8
- 2 cups plus 2 tbsp (325g) plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 5 tbsp white sugar
- 1/2 cup of cold butter, diced
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- approx 300g strawberries (I used 1/2 a punnet)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- few drops of balsamic vinegar (optional)
- 1 cup of whipped cream or heavy cream (I used dollop cream)
1. Preheat your oven to 210 degrees Celsius. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and 3 tbsp of sugar. Rub the butter in to form crumbs.2. Whisk the egg and cream together. Pour this mixture bit by bit into the flour and butter, stirring with a fork till it just comes together into a cohesive dough. You may not need all the egg and cream so go steadily.3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it to approx 3/4 inch in thickness (about 2cm). Use a floured cooking cutter to cut small rounds. Place on baking paper.4. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle on the last 2 tbsp of sugar.
5. Bake for about 10-15min until golden brown.6. Whilst waiting for the shortcakes to cook, prepare the strawberries. Crush 1/2 the strawberries and place in a small bowl. Mix with the tablespoon of sugar and balsamic vinegar (if using). Let it sit for 5min +. Cut the remaining strawberries into slices.7. To assemble the shortcakes...
Split them in half through the middle and fill with a layer of the macerated strawberries, a layer of cut strawberries and some cream. Enjoy!
The shortcakes are best eaten warm, on the day they are made. I thought they were like a cross between scones and shortbread. This is DEFINITELY a good thing. The shortcakes were buttery, creamy and crumbly around the outside. The sugar crust is lovely too.
Nigella suggests filling them with clotted cream and molasses but I think that strawberries and fresh cream are the perfect compliments. Fresh and delicious. The macerated strawberries are sticky and jam-like. This is a whole level up from standard cafe-style Devonshire tea.