Summer Savvy Shortcakes

3 Jul

Mmmmm . . . berries! At last we are able to buy ‘local’ strawberries. Berries that taste like luscious, ripe, juicy fruit not as if they are doused in diesel fumes and carted from half a continent away.

Celebrating Local Berries!

Celebrating Local Berries!

In our northern climate, each seasonal, locally grown crop is greeted with great gusto. We will gorge ourselves on a steady diet of first asparagus and fiddleheads, then strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and peaches in turn. By late August we’re awash in local melons, apples, pears, plums and corn on the cob. Tomatoes and zucchini and peppers abound.

The last of 2012's Cream Scones for Peach & Cognac Shortcake

The last of 2012’s Cream Scones for Peach & Cognac Shortcake

Shortcake is one of my favourite ways to use our summer berries and peaches into a divine dessert. As a singleton, this can pose a dilemma. Buying a 6-pack of the commercially available mini angel food cake is one option. Just happens that’s my least favourite way to serve strawberries; the cake just gets too soggy. Far better to slice my berries over a good quality ice cream.

Make a heart flutter --- Strawberry Shortcake.

Make a heart flutter — Strawberry Shortcake.

I could make a pan of my mother’s wonderful traditional shortcake, but individual portions don’t freeze all that well. It’s a terrific option for a dinner party or a potluck dessert contribution. But as the summer heats up, I am far less likely to want to turn on the oven.

Here’s my savvy solution: Cream Scones! My recipe card indicates the source for these buttery, flaky, sweet biscuits was JoyofBaking.com.

Early in the summer, I bake up a double batch of these scones — 12 in all — wrap them up individually, pop into some cylindrical tins and freeze. Despite the 12-step instructions of this recipe, it comes together very quickly and needs very little skill to produce. Don’t be intimidated.

When you plan to have shortcake for dessert, remove the required number of scones from the freezer earlier in the day. Allow them to thaw in their plastic wrap. Just before plating, remove the wrap and microwave, uncovered, on high for approximately 30 seconds. The scones come out warm, flaky and buttery.

Flaky, rich Cream Scones

Flaky, rich Cream Scones

Split the scone horizontally, dollop each side with whipped cream, spoon on sliced, room-temperature (liqueur-enhanced, perhaps) fruit and top off with more whipped cream. Garnish with mint leaves. Or use good quality vanilla ice cream in place of the whipped cream.

Simple ingredients yield great rewards.

Simple ingredients yield great rewards.

CREAM SCONES FOR SAVVY SHORTCAKE                      Makes: 12 scones

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1000 mL)                       all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL)                        white sugar
  • 4 tsp (40 mL)                              baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (5 mL)                             salt
  • 2/3 cup (152 mL)                       COLD unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 large                                           eggs
  • 2 tsp (20 mL)                              vanilla
  • 1 cup (250 mL)                           cream (I used whipping cream, but you can be ”your own fat-content-control board” by using 1/2 + 1/2, heavy cream or milk.)
  •                                                       more cream to baste top of scones
  •                                                       large grain sugar for sprinkling top of scones

Instructions:

1.      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Set rack in the middle position of the oven. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

2.     In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

3.     Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the cubes of cold unsalted butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles course crumbs.

Add cold, cubed butter and cut into flour mixture.

Add cold, cubed butter and cut into flour mixture.

Flour and butter = coarse crumbs consistency.

Flour and butter = coarse crumbs consistency.

4.     In a smaller bowl or a large measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs. Add vanilla extract and cream, stirring well to combine.

Whisk eggs then mix in cream and vanilla.

Whisk eggs then mix in cream and vanilla.

5.     Create a well in the centre of the butter/flour mixture.

Create well in dry ingredients. Pour in all of liquid.

Create well in dry ingredients. Pour in all of liquid.

6.     Pour all the liquid mixture into the well. Using a spatula, mix lightly and quickly. The dough will look ragged and be sticky.

MIx lightly and quickly with spatula. Turn dough out onto a floured surface.

Mix lightly and quickly with spatula. Turn dough out onto a floured surface.

7.      Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Since I doubled this recipe, I divided the dough into 2 equal portions. Working with one section at a time, knead the dough about 4 – 6 times. Do not over work.

8.     Work each dough ball into a 7-inch round disc. You can use either a rolling-pin or pat into shape with your hands. Do not over work the dough. Use the least amount of rolling or patting to create the circle.

Work half of dough into a 7-inch round. Cut out 3-inch diameter disks.

Work half of dough into a 7-inch round. Cut out 3-inch diameter disks.

9.     Use a 3” diameter cookie cutter (or an empty, washed/sterilized tuna can) to cut out 6 biscuits per dough ball. Re-form any scraps of dough to cut more scones.

10.    Place the raw scones on the parchment-lined baking sheet(s). Brush the top of each with more cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Brush top of each unbaked scone with cream, sprinkle with sugar.

Brush top of each unbaked scone with cream, sprinkle with sugar.

11.     Bake in 375 degree F oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until scones are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the centre of a scone comes out clean.

Bake in centre of 375F oven for 15 -20 minutes until browned.

Bake in centre of 375 F oven for 15 -20 minutes until browned.

12.     Remove from baking sheets to wire racks to cool to warm for immediate use or completely before freezing for later use.

I’d love to see photos of your shortcake creations. Attach them to the comments section of this post. Let’s inspire one another, shall we?

Strawberried-up!

Strawberried-up!

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4 Responses to “Summer Savvy Shortcakes”

  1. barbara fradkin July 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    Yum! Never tried scones instead of store-bought shortcake, Susan, but will try this! The “cutting in butter to coarse crumbs” is usually where things fall apart.

    • Susan at Savvy Single Suppers July 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

      I think it’s worth it to have a pastry blender, Barbara. They aren’t that expensive.
      There comes a point where the consistency of the crumbs doesn’t change much with continued effort. I stop then. Hope the photo gives you some idea of what my butter-flour crumb mixture looked like, using the pastry blender. I was never certain — when I used knives to cut in the butter — that I had mixed it enough. Good luck!

  2. LFFL July 9, 2013 at 5:57 am #

    Those look great!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Blog-oliday! | Savvy Single Suppers - July 27, 2013

    […] a few things from my freezer — cookies and cream scones for shortbread. Made a mountain of muffins the other day . . . so some of those will travel with […]

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