Life as an American overseas can be a bit “wah-wah”(trombone sound) on the Fourth of July.
No firework stands, no rumbling trucks with American flags trailing behind flagpoles pointing to the sky, no big displays in the stores.
I mean, if you’re a bookworm like me it’s actually kind of nice. I’ve grown to like the mute. Pretend I didn’t just say that. ‘Murica! *waves flag*
But I do remember my first Fourth of July overseas. It was twenty years ago in England. I was so down that my Australian and Brit neighbors volunteered to make a little parade in front of my house and make a lot of noise and march back and forth pushing their baby strollers. Which is just about the nicest thing anyone has offered to do for me.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, but my family does not live on an American base here. We live in a remote village, pretty far from base. Pure Deutchland. I don’t go to the commissary much. That’s The Colonel’s thing. He’s very good at running into the commissary for what he calls a “limited objective raid”. He’s extremely efficient. Of course he is.
I do miss the big strawberry shortcake displays in American stores this time of year.
Sights and smells and suggestions of what to cook are good for the soul, I think. I started making my own authentic strawberry shortcakes for the Fourth of July when we lived in Japan. It just felt nice, and calming.
So, If by some small chance you are looking for an authentic, old-fashioned strawberry shortcake recipe, then this is the post for you.
This recipe is for the person who’s great grandma or great aunt used to make these and serve them on the front porch. That’s the kind of short cake this is. Also called short bread, or shortening bread. It’s more of a biscuit than a cake. As a food stickler, I will say that it’s actually and technically a pastry.
I mean, it IS fabulous. However, it will require you to be IN THE MOOD to get your hands in dough and mix stuff and use a rolling pin and everything. Which, I mean, I’m into just about every day. But I’m writing this recipe to share, so it’s only fair that I mention that. It’s not a “grab and go” at the store kind of recipe. If you want to “grab-and-go” then go ahead and do that fagawdsake because life it too short to hmmm and haaa over strawberry shortcake.
If you feel like getting your hands in some dough and making your kitchen smell like a buttery, sweet, pillowy haven of powdery cloud-pastry, then proceed. Printable recipe with quantities and specifics is below. I’m going to run through the steps as if you’re standing in my kitchen with me. I think it’s more fun that way.
In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth.
In a medium bowl, mix your flour with baking powder and a pinch of salt. Mix half of that with your butter/sugar mixture.
Now add half of the buttermilk. Full fat buttermilk would be best but if you can only find non-fat, that’s ok. Add the second half of the flour mixture and the second half of the buttermilk to the dough, and mix gently. Now your dough is almost done.
Zest one lemon and add the zest to the dough. Mix gently.
Dust your surface with flour.
Turn the dough out onto the dusted surface. This dough is going to be sticky. Please do not add more flour to it and mix it.
Add just a bit of flour to the top of the dough so you will be able to roll it out without sticking.
Give it gentle rolls. Don’t go and steamroll it fagawdsake. Just gentle until it’s 1 inch thick.
Use a biscuit cutter to cut into rounds. You could also just score the dough into squares or diamonds. See the video above for my “A-list, B-list, C-list” method of dough cutting (so you can use up all the scraps).
Line them all up on a parchment paper-lined pan.
Bake at 400°F for 20-30 minutes. Do not over bake. You don’t want hockey pucks.
While the cakes are baking, prepare your strawberries. Never, ever submerge strawberries in water. Never, ever even rinse them. To wash strawberries, just take a damp paper towel and wipe them off, individually. If you submerge the strawberries or saturate them with water they will lose all their flavor.
Slice the strawberries into a bowl.
Juice one lemon, or use bottled lemon juice (1/4 cup)
Pour the lemon juice onto the strawberries. This will release some of the juices and make them nice and sparkly-tasting.
Add the sugar and mix gently with your hands. Set aside. A nice syrup will form now.
After you’ve gotten your strawberries ready, go ahead and check your shortcakes. They should be tender to the touch. See how my finger causes a nice indentation? That’s what you want. Set them aside to cool and start making your whipped cream.
Before making fresh whipped cream, I put my mixing bowl and balloon whip attachment into the freezer for about 15 minutes. If I don’t have any room in my freezer I just put them in my fridge. It’s ok.
Whip the cream on medium high until it just starts to thicken. Add the sugar and whip again until soft peaks form. This does not keep well so make it right before your serve your shortcakes.
Just before serving, set yourself a little assembly station. This is the fun part. Slice each shortcake horizontally – like a little hamburger bun.
Now build your shortcakes.
Whipped cream, then strawberries….
Then the top half of the shortcake, then whipped cream, then strawberries.
Then blueberries, then more whipped cream!
Gorgeous!! People won’t believe how good they are!! You absolutely cannot beat the real thing! Please be sure to tell them you got the recipe here at The Flying Kitchen. I appreciate that.
Red, White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake
- heavy duty mixer
- lemon zester
- biscuit cutters
- flexible pastry scraper
- Rolling Pin
- baking sheets
- mixing bowls
- Parchment paper
- 1 1/2 cup butter, unsalted softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 cups flour all-purpose
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
Strawberry & Blueberry Topping:
- 5 cups sliced strawberries
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream straight from the fridge (cold)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Using a heavy duty mixer, whip the butter until smooth.
- Add the sugar, and beat again until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Pour half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
- Pour half of the buttermilk into the butter mixture to combine with the flour mixture.
- Mix gently.
- Add the second half of the flour mixture to the dough, and the second half of the buttermilk to the dough. Mix gently to combine.
- Add the lemon zest, and give the mixer a few more turns, but don't over beat the dough.
- Dust your work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl.
- Dust the top of the dough, and gently roll dough out to 1 inch thick.
- Cut dough into circles using a biscuit cutter, or score into squares or diamonds using a knife.
- Place the dough (pastry) rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 400°F for 20-30 minutes.
Strawberry and Blueberry Topping
- In a large mixing bowl combine the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar.
- Let it sit for about 30 minutes to form its own syrup. You can add the blueberries at this time, or add them when you build your shortcake "sundaes".
- Put your mixing bowl and balloon whip attachment into the fridge for freezer for about 15 minutes so they are cold. Cold utensils will whip cream better.
- Pour 2 cups cream (right out of the fridge) into the cold mixing bowl.
- Beat using the balloon whip on medium high until cream starts to thicken.
- Add the sugar to the thickened cream. If you wait until the cream is thickened before you add the sugar, the sugar won't fall to the bottom of the bowl.
- Continue to beat the whipped cream until soft peaks form. Do not over beat.