One of my absolute favorite springtime foods is a freshly picked, still warm from the sun, beautiful strawberry. Strawberry picking is an enjoyable adventure for my family, and we cannot wait until the start of the season (the end of April where we live). It’s always sad when the season ends, but then we can transition into one of our other favorite times, blueberry season.
A few years ago I happened upon a Betty Crocker’s recipe for Strawberry Shortcakes. It was very simple, but what I liked the best was that it only required a few ingredients. In my personal and professional opinion, when it comes to baked and, if you have to eat them, processed foods, the fewer the ingredients the better (and healthier). All that is needed for this recipe: strawberries, flour, sugar, salt, milk, shortening, baking powder, and butter (if desired). Whipped cream on top if you so choose. Normally I would choose the whipped cream, but didn’t have any cream on hand. It was still delicious.
Another reason I like this recipe is because all you have to do is mix it up, drop it onto the pan and then cook it. No kneading, no perfect little cakes. The irregular little cakes are very charming and kids can be great helpers.
I have added specific recommendations for the ingredients below, though credit goes to the Betty Crocker’s cookbook for the recipe. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, IDG Books Worldwide, copyright 2000 by General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN. I looked online for this recipe, but all I could find was a version that used Bisquick. I like the recipe below because all the ingredients (except the strawberries) are staples in most kitchens.
Strawberry Shortcakes:(my additions in parentheses)
2 pints (4 cups) strawberries, sliced (organic, local, and fresh if you can get them)
1/2 cup sugar (or local honey)
1/3 cup shortening (organic vegetable shortening)
2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached local flour if you can find it)
2 tablespoons sugar (I’d stick with sugar here, but local honey could work)
3 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum free)
1 teaspoon salt (sea or kosher)
3/4 milk (I used unsweetened almond milk, and I needed a bit more)
butter or stick margarine, if desired (butter from local dairy is ideal)
Sweetened whipped cream, if desired (local cream sweetened with a bit of sugar or honey)
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Cut shortening into flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder and salt in medium bowl, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in milk just until blended.
Drop dough by 6 spoonfuls (I made 12 smaller cakes) about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Split shortcakes horizontally in half while hot. Spread butter on split sides (I tend to omit this step, shortcakes are perfect without the butter). Fill with strawberries; replace tops (I usually just scoop strawberries on top of shortcakes to keep it simple). Top with strawberries and whipped cream.
Eat Fresh. Eat Local. Eat Healthy. Enjoy!