Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Strawberry Shortcakes

It’s a little amazing how few posts I wrote over the summer. As best as I can figure out, being in a different environment made me fall into a different routine, and since I didn’t have a comfortable place at which to sit with my computer, I rarely blogged. I did make some good recipes, though! This recipe from Bon Appétit was possibly the best strawberry shortcake recipe I’ve ever had. This one calls for cream, but you could use a vegan substitute. There are still some late-season strawberries available, I believe, so you don’t have to shelve this one until next year!

The batter called for the addition of hard-boiled egg yolks. I’ve made a recipe like that before, where they were passed through a sieve, but I rarely come across this ingredient. Cooked egg yolks, as it turns out, help prevent the formation of too much gluten, yet don’t weigh down the batter. These shortcakes are like a cross between sweet sponge cakes and flakier biscuits; I thought they were perfect. Also, the combination of cooked and fresh strawberries here was genius! It really makes the dish.

For the shortcakes
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, cooled
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. semolina flour or fine-grind cornmeal
1 Tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter (or margarine), cut into pieces
⅔ cup plus 2 Tbsp. lactose-free cream
sanding or granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

For the assembly
1½ lbs. strawberries (about 1 quart), hulled, halved, quartered if large; divided
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
kosher salt
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, divided
1 cup lactose-free cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

For the shortcakes
Pulse egg yolks, both flours, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until only pea-size pieces remain. Drizzle in ⅔ cup cream, then pulse 2–3 times to barely incorporate. Transfer dough to a work surface and gently fold on top of itself several times just to bring it together and work in any dry spots.

Using a 2-oz. ice cream scoop, make 6 balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet; do not flatten. (Or measure out mounded scoops with a ¼-cup measuring cup. Using an ice cream scoop to shape the dough makes for a compact, mounded dome, allowing the cakes to open upward as they bake instead of flattening out.) Cover and chill until cold, 20–25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Brush tops of shortcakes with remaining 2 Tbsp. cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden and sides are firm to the touch, 28–32 minutes (I’d bake them a bit less next time; mine were too golden for me.). Let cool. The shortcakes will keep for a day in an airtight container, but are best served warm.).

For the assembly
Toss strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl to combine. Transfer half of strawberries to a large saucepan and add 1 Tbsp. water; let remaining strawberries macerate while you bring strawberries in saucepan to a gentle simmer over medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if needed to keep at a low simmer, until strawberries are starting to break down and become jammy and liquid is syrupy, 12–18 minutes. Let cool, then stir in 1 tsp. lemon juice. Stir remaining 1 tsp. lemon juice into macerated strawberries.

Combine cream, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Beat cream until soft peaks form.

Split shortcakes and divide strawberry compote, macerated strawberries, and whipped cream among bottoms. Close with shortcake tops.

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