March is strawberry season here in Florida, more specifically in Plant City "Winter Strawberry Capital of the World". Winter it is not, we wear shorts and flip flops to the Plant City Strawberry Festival every year. This year I decided to try my hand at making jam, so I bought A TON of strawberries. I made two batches (16 pints) of low sugar jam and still had enough leftover for a freezer full of strawberries already cut up and sweetened for shortcake. We also had strawberry pie, strawberry cupcakes, strawberries on our french toast and I think Tinker Bell ate more than she cleaned. We love March! So this recipe is for the shortcake biscuits and it makes enough for 8 people or 4 people with leftovers. The biscuits are fantastic in the morning with a little strawberry jam!
You will need:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 T white sugar
1 1/2 T baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
strawberries, sliced with sugar to taste (allow to sit for at least a half hour)
more whipping cream and sugar for topping
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and cut in the butter. I use a pastry cutter, but knives or even a couple of quick pulses in the food processor works great. (I just hate cleaning my food processor and actually enjoy working the butter into the flour with my pastry cutter--memories of my grandmother working shortening into flour for biscuits.) Work it until you have pea-sized crumbs.
Combine the cream and vanilla.
Make a well in the flour mixture and add your cream. Mix gently until just combined.
This dough isn't pretty and it may even feel a bit dry. Totally okay! Gently knead it by hand a few times, creating a loose ball. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured, parchment lined cookie sheet and pat into an 8-inch square about 3/4 of an inch thick. Any thicker than that and you may end up with raw middles in your biscuits.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. This step is important--why? You want the butter to be cold because that is what gives you the flaky texture you love in biscuits. Trust me on this one.
Preheat your oven to 425. Take out the dough, slide the parchment onto the counter, and cut it into 9 even squares. Place them about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake until medium brown, 15 minutes exactly if your oven is spot-on with its temperatures.
My biscuits look a little ratty, I know. And I don't care, but if you like perfect biscuits that you can cut in half then just make your 9 squares even with clean edges. We don't cut our biscuits in half...we crumble. It tastes better. Really!
You may never see it crumbled in a magazine, but the little bits soak up all the delicious juice from the berries and you don't get a mouthful of biscuits with no strawberry flavor. I fill up a plastic freezer jam container with sliced strawberries and sugar and that is enough for four servings of strawberry shortcake. I just take the container out of the freezer the night before we want to eat it. I use about a cup of whipping cream with 2T powdered sugar added for the topping. Don't spoil your strawberry shortcake with Chemical Whip! :)
You may find yourself snacking on the biscuits late a night, sans strawberries. To avoid this dilemma you can wrap the biscuits in foil, place them in a freezer bag, and freeze them until the next time you want shortcake (or a snack). They'll be beautiful from the freezer for about 3 months.