July 28, 2009

Strawberry (and blueberry) Shortcake

My lovely sister visited me a couple of weekends ago, and while she was here we decided to make shortcake! She'd made it before, but I'd never even eaten a real shortcake before. I find that most of the time you see it in a restaurant, grocery store or bakery, it's actually angel food cake served with strawberries. Very different!

Shortcake is actually made with a dough. It looks like bread dough. You mush it into a pan and it's lumpy and not very pretty when it comes out. But it still somehow looks delicious and perfect.
You're supposed to cut this (very thin) cake in half and layer it with whipped cream and fruit. We decided it would be difficult to do (plus we were tired and just wanted some cake), so we didn't. It kept a lot better that way.

I didn't take photos of the whole process because we were also busy making dinner when we made it, but here's what it looked like when we were done!

It's really a simple and lovely cake. Very filling, too, so you can get quite a few servings out of one cake!


Strawberry Shortcake


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold butter or margarine, cut into pieces
2/3 cup milk
2 pints strawberries (about 7 cups whole)
1 cup whipping cream


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease 8-inch round cake pan. In medium bowl, combine flour, 3 tbsp sugar, baking powder, and salt. With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until mixture forms soft dough that leaves side of bowl. On lightly floured surface, knead dough 10 times. With floured hands, pat evenly into cake pan and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. Bake until golden, about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, reserve 4 whole strawberries for garnish; hull remaining strawberries and cut in half or in quarters. In medium bowl, toss strawberries with remaining 1/2 cup sugar until sugar has dissolved.
Invert shortcake onto surface. With long serrated knife, cut shortcake horizontally in half. In bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream just until soft peaks form.
Place bottom half of shortcake, cut side up, on cake plate; top with half the strawberry mixture and half the whipped cream. Place remaining shortcake, cut side down, on strawberry mixture. Spoon remaining strawberry mixture over, then top with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with reserved whole strawberries.

Guten Appetit!
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July 16, 2009

Strawberry and White Chocolate Tart

Okay. So, not only am I back from Germany, but I'm also unemployed because 1) this is a weird time of year to hire anyone, and 2) it's a terrible economy to hire anyone. You're probably thinking that I should be using all this time to bake bake bake and post post post. But bake bake baking requires money money money, which I am sorely lacking because of my current state of unemployment.
Nonetheless, I did bake last week. I actually made something for a friend who was looking for a subject for a photography exercise/contest. I spent a lot of time considering all my options. Something tried and true or something completely new (rhyme not intended)? I chose a dish, then changed my mind, then changed my mind again and finally I did land on something I had made before... only completely different.
If you'll think (or look, if you weren't with me back then) back to June 2008, you'll remember that I made a strawberry chocolate pie for my sister's birthday. Well this time I decided to follow the original recipe more closely and used white chocolate... but I still used strawberries. Mostly because the raspberries were about twice the price.

I started by hulling and washing some beautiful, fresh, Ontario strawberries. I'm only glad I live in Ontario in the summer, and only because of the plethora of beautiful, fresh produce.

I set those aside to drain and cut up some chilled butter.

Then added some flour and sugar.

And blended it all up.

Next I added some egg yolks, whipping cream and lemon juice and blended those in.

The dough looked like this when it was all blended.

I formed it into a ball and wrapped it up in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

Meet my new Paderno tart pan. I love it.

When the dough was chilled, I fit it into the lovely lovely pan.

The dough went back into the fridge and I chopped up the white chocolate.

I melted it in a pot with some whipping cream and vanilla (which made the colour kind of gross, but I tried to ignore it).

I poured the melted chocolate mixture into a bowl with an egg and beat it up.

While I was doing all that, the tart shell was baking blind, so once the filling was prepared, I filled the bottom of the tart with a bunch of strawberries.

And drowned them with the white chocolate mixture.

After going in the oven for 45 or 50 minutes, the tart came out looking like this, which is basically what I imagine heaven looks like.

So, I don't have any photos of the tart cut. I took the tart over to my friend's house where he had set up about three flashes and his fancy-pants camera. Many shots of the whole tart were taken before we cut a perfect slice out and took many most photos of the slice and the tart, etc. It was fun and a lot of the photos seemed to turn out pretty nicely. Of course I haven't seen any since that night, but as soon as I get my hands on them, I'll post them up and show you what my food looks like when you light it properly instead of just using the natural light of my huge apartment windows.
We also ate some, and it was pretty tasty! They crust was a little too thick, but the filling had a pleasant white chocolate flavour and the strawberries gave it a nice fresh taste, too! I did alter the recipe based on thoughts by eat me, delicious, who made it quite a while ago and thought that the white chocolate flavour was a little weak. All I did was increase the white chocolate by 2 ounces and decrease the whipping cream by 2 ounces. It worked out just fine!
I'm not sure I would add it to my regular rotation of desserts for gatherings or functions, but it was quite enjoyable.

More posts to come soon, hopefully! My sister is visiting for the weekend and we're planning to make shortcake!


Strawberry and White Chocolate Tart
adapted from a Ricardo Larrivée recipe.


2 ¼ cups flour
1 pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon ice water or 35% cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup 35% cream
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups fresh strawberries (or enough strawberries to fill the bottom of your tart crust)


Shortbread Crust
Place the butter, flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and blend with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg yolks, water or cream and lemon juice and blend until the mixture is uniform. Shape into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pat the dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes. With the rack in the lowest position, preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the chilled crust with aluminum foil, scattering a few dry beans or pie weights on top to hold the foil in place. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and bake for 5 minutes more. Let cool.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a saucepan over low heat, gently melt the chocolate in the cream and vanilla. Lightly beat the egg using an electric mixer on lowest speed. While beating, slowly add the chocolate mixture, taking care not to incorporate air into the mixture. Beat for 15 seconds more. Arrange strawberries on the pie crust with their pointed ends facing up. Gently pour the filling over the berries without covering them completely. Bake until the centre is only slightly jiggly, 45 to 50 minutes*.
Let stand at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours. Best if served the same day.

* Make sure you check often after about 35 minutes, because all ovens are different!

Guten Appetit!
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