Best Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes (or What It Really Means)

best homemade strawberry shortcakes

Birthdays can have their way with you if you let them.

(And not in a good way).

They tend to be viewed by much of Western society as simply markers on the passage of time to a place we’re all headed to known as Older.

And Western society does not like Older.

It’s true, time does speed up the older one gets and with The Big Day (i.e. Moving Day) a mere 15 days away now, I am all the more aware of the passing of time than ever before.

Image from For-Cats-Only.Com

Image from For-Cats-Only.Com

Time did the thing it does and my birthday made its yearly appearance last Thursday.  This year I welcomed it cordially instead of trying to body-slam it to the ground as I have some years.

Friends called, loved one’s sent cards and left messages and my parents serenaded from afar.

It was a good day.

Fast forward to Saturday however — the day of official celebration —  kicked off with the gang and me spent under a cloudless-ly perfect summer sky picking nature’s candy:  strawberries.

strawberry picking with the gang

Later on we shared each others meals at a local restaurant over oohs and mmms

Continued our way to Sarah and Jon’s house for homemade strawberry shortcakes courtesy of Ms. Sarah …

Where somewhere along the way — at my brother’s apartment, to be exact — my cupcakes were officially taken.  (Thanks for the tee, Niko!).

Photo by Christopher

Photo by Christopher

And by the end of the day, I was reminded that I was a year older and infinitely more rich than I was the year before.

I had family and friends and a year’s worth of experiences and memories with them that I hadn’t had prior to that year.

I was braver than I was the year before.  I had started horseback riding back up again after over 20 years.  I was definitely a lot kinder to myself.

And I had even made a new friend, Wills.

my buddy wills

And I came to realize what growing old gracefully really meant.

Recognizing the blessing and gifts that unfold before you as every year goes by.  The blessings that are your friends and family and loved ones that you are still lucky enough to have with you for another year.

Getting to have one more year laughing with them, one more year living, really living, and one more year really learning, loving and enjoying.

Not getting tripped up on a wrinkle you got from laughing so hard or that gray hair that sprouted overnight.

And it’s true.  You’re not the same as you once were.

You’re one year better.

best homemade strawberry shortcakes

Best Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes

It doesn’t get any more summer-y than strawberry shortcake.  Here’s how to make a perfect summer dessert the very best.  The secret?  It’s all in the details.

Adapted from The Science of Good Cooking

Makes 6 – 8 servings

For Fruit

8 cups (about 2 1/2 pounds) ripe organic strawberries, hulled + 8 small strawberries left whole, for garnish
5 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For Shortcakes

3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk + 2 tablespoons for brushing over top before baking
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

For Whipped Cream

1 half pint container heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon powdered confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl — using a cocktail muddler or potato masher — mash 3 cups of the strawberries until barely mashed.  Slice remaining strawberries lengthwise and add to mashed strawberries along with light brown sugar and lemon zest.  Fold ingredients in gently — using a rubber spatula — until well combined.

Cover strawberry mixture with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least a half an hour to let all those flavors meld together.

Adjust oven rack to second-from-the-bottom level and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cover large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl — using a fork or whisk — whisk 3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk and egg together until well incorporated.  Set aside.

Using a food processor, pulse all-purpose flour, yellow corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, light brown sugar and sea salt together until well combined.  Slice chilled butter into your dried ingredient mixture — using a sharp knife — and pulse again until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Note:  The butter pieces should look slightly smaller than pea-size.

Transfer dried mixture to large, clean bowl and add buttermilk/egg mixture and — using a clean rubber spatula — fold gently until just barely combined.

Note:  Do not over-mix as doing so will result in rubbery, tough shortcakes (and no one likes rubbery shortcakes).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough just starts to come together.

Gently pat dough out into a rough, 9-inch circle — roughly 3/4 to 1-inch thick — and using a floured 3 3/4-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 6 dough rounds.  You will likely have extra dough left over; if you do, just gently collect extra dough pieces, gently pat down to same thickness and cut out more dough rounds.

Note:  When patting dough out, pat down just enough to where it gets to desired thickness. Don’t be too concerned with a smooth surface appearance.  The unevenness is what we’re going for here (see pic for reference).  Also, be sure to not twist the biscuit cutter when cutting out the rounds, just gently punch and lift.  This will help the shortcakes rise properly when baking.

Place dough rounds onto your parchment paper-lined baking sheet roughly 2-inches apart and — using a pastry brush — gently brush tops with the extra 2 tablespoons of reserved buttermilk.

Transfer baking sheet to middle of second-from-the-bottom level oven rack and bake shortcakes for 15 – 17 minutes or until golden brown, making sure to turn baking sheet halfway through baking.

While shortcakes are baking, prepare whipped cream.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl — using a hand mixer at medium speed — add chilled whipping cream, powdered confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and beat well for a few minutes until soft peaks form.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When shortcakes are ready, remove baking sheet from oven and transfer shortcakes to wire cooling rack to cool for about 10 – 15 minutes.

When ready to serve — using a serrated knife — split shortcakes in half and place bottoms on individual serving plates.  Top each bottom with several spoonfuls of the strawberry mixture, a dollop of whipped cream and cap with shortcake top.  Finish each with another dollop of whipped cream and a strawberry for garnish.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

35 thoughts on “Best Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes (or What It Really Means)

  1. Much fun was had on your b-day celebration buddy, glad you like the t, and that strawberry shortcake looks delicious! Much love.

  2. I love the strawberry recipe. I always use sugar not brown sugar on the strawberries. I’m gonna have to try it. I will you send you the best blueberry dessert for summer for next month which is the opening of blueberry picking season. Something I will be doing with my son for the first time. I think he is ready to help in the collection of the feast that is blueberries. We all just might turn into blueberries in July.

  3. You don’t look old enough to be getting wrinkles! Wait until you’re mid-thirties like I am, ahem, was – years ago. Happy belated birthday!
    – Whew, thought it bad enough that posted their shortbread with hazelnuts last night, both of which I love. Now I’m going to have to make shortcakes ‘n all. Hmmm, all with strawberries 🙂 All good.

  4. Happy Birthday my dear Christina! BIG HUGS! Sounds like you had a fun day. This strawberry shortcake look amazing! I wish I can have a plateful right now. 🙂 Only 15 days left of before the move. Good luck! I hope all goes well. Take care. xo

    • Aw, thank you, dear Anne! Big hugs received and big hugs sent right back! I did have a wonderful day, thank you, and I wish I could beam you over a plate of strawberry shortcake right now =)

      Thank you for the move well-wishes; we are now just less than 13 days out. It’s now officially a countdown 😉

      Hugs and hope all is wonderfully well, Anne; thanks for stopping by! xo!

  5. Christina, you are beautiful, strong and wise. I can tell that by just reading this post, as you always allow your honesty and heart to pour right into the page. I love that. I’m also starting to realise that ‘getting older’ provides more time to sew details onto the rich tapestries that are our lives. I understand, accept and love myself more now than I did five years ago. It’s a really beautiful place to be.
    Love this recipe. Gorgeous, fresh and Summery. I’m wrapped in a blanket on my couch right now but this post brought a sliver of sunshine into my day. Thanks beautiful! xx

    • Aw, Laura, thank you! You, my dear, are wonderful and look at the wisdom coming from you! And I couldn’t agree more (so well put, Laura): ‘getting older’ does provide more time to sew details onto the rich tapestries that are our lives. To understand, accept and love yourself more than you did previously? It really is a beautiful place to be.

      And re: the recipe, thank you, lovely, so glad to hear!

      Warm hugs and sunshine sent your way =)


  6. What a post. So warm and well said. I’m going to use your shortcake recipe. I have tried a few now and have yet to be impressed. I can tell I will get what I’m looking for with your recipe. Buttermilk, cornmeal…not too much sugar. Sounds perfect. I’ve yet to check out Bitterroot… 🙂

  7. That’s a great way to think about it – that you’re one year better, I’m definitely going to start doing that, because it’s so true!

    The shortcakes look absolutely gorgeous. And, I love that t-shirt! Super funny 🙂

  8. Happy Happy Birthday Christina!
    One year better, one year wiser, one year happier.
    All the best on your upcoming move! There are lots of lovely strawberries for the picking here in sunny southern California as well so you can enjoy that delicious looking strawberry shortcake for your birthday next year too!

    • Thank you so much, Rose!

      And thank you too for the upcoming move wishes =) It looks like we’ll also be neighbors soon! I cannot wait for those southern California strawberries (and all the rest of that yummy local produce too)!

      Hope all is well and thanks so much again; great hearing from you, lovely!


  9. Beautiful post, Christina 🙂 So exciting that your move is coming up! I totally agree about the birthday thing as well. America is obsessed with he culture of youth, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be. I revel in each gray hair or laugh line that emerges like a badge of honor, as they were gained with by putting forth much effort and by enjoying much humor 🙂
    Cheers to you, lady! And best wishes on your move.
    xo, Rebekah

    • Thanks so much, Rebekah, and so great to hear from you, lady =) And I couldn’t agree with you more … preach it, sister, preach it!

      Cheers to you, lovely one, and thank you for the move well wishes! I am putting them in my bag for the long journey down =)

      ‘Til we chat again soon,


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