This week’s recipe comes from Williams Sonoma
So last week was all about an easy savoury brunch treat, but by all means, don’t stop there! Make use of the crazy abundance of strawberries to be found at the farmers’ markets and in supermarkets right now (you’ve noticed that too, right?) and delight your family and friends with a colourful, delicious end to your brunch.
Strawberries are widely available year-round, but are at their juiciest and sweetest from September to January. Don’t be too tempted by impressive size: the sweetest, most fragrant strawberries are often the smallest, and they’re the ones that work best in this recipe. Of course, you should choose berries with bright, fresh green caps and avoid any that are tinged with white or bruised. It’s also best to wash them close to when you plan to eat them. Store them in the refrigerator until then.
Isn’t strawberry shortcake the most charming name for such a classic brunch treat? And what could be more enticing than laying out a delectable, colourful spread for guests to assemble their very own strawberry shortcakes? Create an interactive workstation by presenting all the individual ingredients right on the table. Serve the shortcakes straight from their cooling rack – preferably still a little warm. Give the strawberries their own bowl (try a black or white one to really make the red fruit pop), add a mismatched bowl or repurposed jam jar for the cream. Stack up the serving bowls, napkins and cutlery, then switch on the kettle again – it’s time for another round of tea.
For the dough:
- 2 cups (300g) plain flour
- ¼ cup (60g) caster sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 125 g cold butter, cut into 1 cm pieces
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup (80ml) thickened cream, plus more as needed
- 2 tbsp demerara sugar
For the filling:
- 500 g (about 2 punnets) strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- Whipped thickened cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a large rimmed baking tray with parchment paper or baking paper.
In a bowl, using a fork, stir together the flour, caster sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and toss it well to coat with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter just until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the 1/3 cup (80 ml) cream until blended. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened. Add additional cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to form a soft dough that is wet enough to be dropped from a spoon.
Using a large spoon, drop the dough onto the prepared baking tray in mounds about 7 cm wide and about 2 cm high, spacing them 2.5 cm apart. You should have about 8 shortcakes. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with 1-2 tablespoons cream and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake until the shortcakes are firm to the touch and golden-brown, 12-15 minutes.
While the shortcakes are baking, prepare the filling. In a bowl, using a fork, crush 1 cup (125 g) of the berries. Add the remaining berries and the caster sugar, mix well, and set aside. Transfer the shortcakes from the baking tray to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.
To serve, split the warm shortcakes horizontally and place the bottom half of each, cut side up, on a shallow bowl. Spoon the berries on top, dividing them evenly. Top each with some whipped cream. Cover with the shortcake tops and serve right away. Serves 8.
–This recipe is adapted from one in the Williams-Sonoma cookbook Bake Good Things. Head to Williams-Sonoma for lots more foodie inspiration, or book yourself into a cooking class at their Bondi Junction Cooking School.