strawberry-shortcake-1

So, you remember that scene in “Sex and the City” when Carrie spots those petal pink Christian Louboutin stilettos in a shop window and purrs, “Hello, Lover”? Because, no matter how impractical, she has to have those shoes. She sees herself in those shoes. She’s made a connection.

That was me with Alice Waters’ Strawberry Shortcake.

I’d been flipping through “The Art of Simple Food” since Mom gave it to me last Christmas, but I didn’t connect with anything until this morning, when I noticed this recipe and envisioned the spoonfuls of slightly sweetened strawberries and vanilla whipped cream spilling out of a just-cooled cream biscuit dusted with powdered sugar.

Oh, yes. I connected.

What’s different about Ms. Waters’ Strawberry Shortcake? The cream biscuits are light and crumbly,  just sweet enough, and they can soak in all of that lovely strawberry juice without turning to mush or cutting the roof of your mouth. As for the strawberries, Waters suggests an interesting twist: purée a fourth of them. Paired with the juice oozing from the sitting strawberries, the purée intensifies the strawberry flavor and transforms the liquid from a watery pink to a bright, beautiful red.

So, I think I’m going to skip the processed and the Peeps® this weekend and see what other simple wonders have been hiding inside this book. Yes, I’m finally ready to fall in love with a cookbook without pictures. Next stop: puberty!

Strawberry Shortcake

Adapted from Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food”

Makes 6

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
  • 6 baked 2-inch Cream Biscuits (recipe below)
  • Powdered sugar (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and sugar.
  2. Remove 1 cup of the strawberry mixture, and purée it in a blender or food processor. Return the purée to the rest of the strawberries; stir. Set aside at least 15 minutes.
  3. In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip together the cream, vanilla and sugar until it starts to form soft peaks.
  4. Slice the Cream Biscuits in half. For each biscuit, spoon the strawberry mixture onto the bottom half, and add a dollop of whipped cream. Top with the other biscuit half, and dust it with powdered sugar.

Cream Biscuits

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar (if using) and baking powder.
  3. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips. The pieces should be the size of small peas.
  4. Measure cream; set aside 1 tablespoon. Add the remaining cream to the flour, and stir with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Lightly knead the dough a few times in the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out about 3/4 inch thick.
  5. Cut six 2-inch circles or squares out of the dough. Reroll the scraps, if necessary.
  6. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and brush the tops with the tablespoon of cream.
  7. Bake for 17 minutes or until golden and done.