There is a season: Summer shortcake for any occasion 


Published: 6/20/2020 11:25:32 AM

With his birthday and Father’s Day in mid-June, and our anniversary at the end of the month, my husband, Rich, gets a lot of combo presents. This year, he lucked out and had a good five days in between his birthday and Father’s Day and decided to make something of it. He put in for a day off from work, went on a long bike ride, and then cooked on his charcoal grill.

I asked him what he wanted for dessert, and he said strawberry shortcake, which couldn’t have been more seasonal. (I guess I’ve trained him well!) I just picked a quart from the CSA this morning, and our neighbors went strawberry picking this past weekend and dropped us off another quart on our front steps.

This recipe is from Joanne Chang’s first cookbook, “Flour,” which contains home versions of treats from her Boston bakery of the same name. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter, so I shaped them almost like scones, and they came out just fine. We took her balsamic strawberries to the next level with peaches (on sale at the supermarket) and basil from the garden.

It was truly a magnificent summer dessert, for birthdays, Father’s Day, anniversaries, or for no reason at all.

Balsamic basil strawberry and peach shortcakes


2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Three-quarters cup (1½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 to 14 pieces

3 eggs

½ cup heavy cream


2 pints strawberries

1 peach

1 Tablespoon fresh basil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

6 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1¼ cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer) mix together the flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top and beat on medium-low speed for about 30 seconds or until the butter is broken down and the mixture gets sort of mealy.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 of the eggs and the cream until thoroughly mixed. On low speed, pour the egg mixture all at once and beat for 10 to 15 seconds or until the dough comes together.

Dump the dough out onto a floured work surface and press it out into a circle about 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. If you have a biscuit cutter, cut out 8 circles total. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, cut the dough in half, then in quarters.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Transfer to the rack and let cool until warm. (The shortcakes are best enjoyed the same day you bake them, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.)

While the shortcakes are in the oven, stem the strawberries and cut each berry lengthwise into four or five slices. Slice the peaches and chop up the basil. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries, peaches and basil with the vinegar, 6 tablespoons sugar, and let macerate for about 30 minutes.

Using a handheld mixer or whisk, whip the cream with the 1 tablespoon sugar and the vanilla just until it holds soft peaks.

Split each shortcake in half horizontally. Set the bottom halves, cut side up, on individual serving plates. Divide the strawberries and their syrup evenly among the bottom halves, then top the strawberries with the whipped cream, again dividing evenly. Balance the top halves on the whipped cream and serve immediately.

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