OK, I’ll be honest: Great Britain is not known for its culinary prowess.
Good British food is usually simple, honest and often a straightforward, unfussy partnership: fish and chips, bangers and mash, strawberries and cream, with the latter representing a quintessentially English dessert. Nothing says “English summer” like Wimbledon and nothing says “Wimbledon” like an abundance of strawberries and cream (other than perhaps say, tennis whites and Pimm’s).
If you take strawberries and cream as your starting point and add scones you have another classic English dish, the English Cream Tea (also known as a Devonshire Cream Tea) which you will find served at village fetes and in tea shoppes the length and breadth of the sceptered isles. America took this summertime staple and—this is where I get controversial—made it better by substituting strawberry shortcake for the scones.
Although shortcake actually dates back to England in the late 1500s, America championed it and turned scones into biscuits, meaning that this adaption of the English classic allows the buttery qualities of the American Strawberry Shortcake to provide a delicious vehicle for serving fluffy dollops of cream and sweet strawberries.
My kids would agree. I only have to utter the words “strawberry” and “shortcake” in combination and they are practically swooning, offering help in any way, shape or form. This is a great recipe for putting them to work: washing and hulling strawberries, cutting out the shortcake, even whipping the cream. Make them earn their keep this summer.
Ingredients – makes 6
For the shortcake:
- 3 ½ oz cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup superfine sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 cups strawberries
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Heavy (whipping) cream
- Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 395°F. In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Or if you are one of those modern people, throw all of the above into a food processor until you get the same effect.
Mix the cream and whole egg in a small bowl until just combined, then add to the flour and butter mixture and fold in with a knife until just mixed.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it out until it is about an inch thick. Do not use a rolling pin as you want to handle the dough gently and as little as possible.
Cut out six rounds with a 2¾ inch cutter. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Mix the tablespoon of cream with the egg yolk and brush on top of the dough rounds. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.
While the shortcakes are cooking, slice the strawberries and put them in a bowl. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine.
Whip the cream. If you are doing this manually be sure to use a large bowl as the bigger the bowl the quicker it will be as you are adding more air to it. I don’t add sugar to the cream as the strawberries and shortcake are sweet enough.
To serve, slice the shortcake with a knife and place the bottom half on a plate. Top each with strawberries and cream, and replace the top of the shortcake. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Tennis and Pimm’s for the adults, optional.