Strawberry Shortcakes with Lemon Cream

Dsc01784 Tomorrow marks the first day of spring with Easter Sunday falling just a few days later.  Although strawberry shortcake is welcome on any day of the year at my house, made possible by California strawberries’ year-round availability, it is the perfect dessert with which to celebrate these two occasions.  I can’t recall ever meeting someone who doesn’t like strawberry shortcake, so chances are, if you are expecting a crowd for the holiday weekend, this is a sure-to-please dessert.

The name shortcake comes from the term to prepare something "short", which dates back to the 15th century and basically means to make crisp from the use of butter or shortening.  In Great Britain, the word shortcake is synonymous with shortbread, the Scottish crisp and buttery cookie.  The rich pastry version of the shortcake became popular in America in the 1800s, and some modern variations even use pound cake or angelfood cake, but I generally prefer mine with a sweet biscuit that has been studded with lemon zest and split in half. 

This recipe is made a bit more sophisticated with the extra layer of flavor created by the lemon curd whipped cream.  It also adds a nice contrast in color to the bright red berries.  I always find that eating fruit as part of your dessert leaves you feeling a little less guilty!  Here are my tips for this spectacular spring sweet:

  • The biscuits can be prepared one day ahead of time and then stored in a zip top bag or airtight container at room temperature.  Recrisp them in a warm oven and let cool prior toDsc01777  serving.
  • The lemon curd can be refrigerated for up to two days.  The lemon cream can be refrigerated for up to four hours.
  • If you can find Meyer lemons, then I recommend using them for this recipe.  Meyer lemons are the large lemons that almost look like oranges.  They have a sweeter taste than regular lemons.
  • Be careful not to overwork the mixture in the food processor.  This will result in denser, tougher biscuits as opposed to light and flaky ones.
  • Turbinado sugar is a coarse sugar that bakers use to sprinkle on top of pastries and cookies (similar to Sugar in the Raw).  Use regular sugar as a substitute.
  • If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, use the top of a glass that has been dipped in flour to make the biscuits.

Strawberry Shortcakes with Lemon Cream

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the biscuits:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup cake flour

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Zest of one lemon

6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed, plus melted butter for brushing tops

1 cup whipping cream

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

For Lemon Cream:

Zest of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juiceDsc01779

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup whipping cream

For Strawberries:

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tablespoons sugar

Make the biscuits:  Preheat the oven to 375F degrees.  In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.  Sprinkle the butter over the top and pulse until a coarse meal forms.  Add the cream and pulse until the mixture just begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times, until it comes together.  Roll the dough out into a 7-inch round, about 3/4-inch thick.  Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out as many biscuits as you can.  Gently gather the scraps and reroll them and then cut more biscuits so that you have a total of 6.

Transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the biscuits are golden.  Let cool.

Make the lemon cream:  In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest with the lemon juice, sugar, egg, egg yolk, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Set a strainer over a medium bowl and immediately strain the curd into the bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon or a spatula.  Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.  Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Fold the lemon curd into the whipped cream and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Prepare the strawberries:  In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes.  Split the biscuits in half and arrange the bottom halves on plates.  Mound the lemon cream on the biscuits, top with the strawberries and their juices, and replace the tops.  Serve immediately. 

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