1. All well-behaved strawberries deserve to be embraced by sweet, fluffy shortcake. Here’s how to make that happen.
The key to a perfectly tender, fluffy shortcake is sitting in your fridge right now, and it might surprise you. The secret comes to us courtesy of James Beard — you know, just the father of American cooking, NBD — who learned it from his mother: hard-boiled egg yolks.
It might sound weird, but crumbly cooked yolk adds just enough richness without weighing down or gumming up the works. This also means the dough is more forgiving, so you don’t need to worry that you’ll overwork it.
Yes, there’s one extra step (boiling a few eggs), but it’s worth it. Plus, you get a healthy pre-shortcake egg white snack out of it. So what are you waiting for? Put the kettle on!
3. First things first: Get the best strawberries you can find.
Yummy, juicy local berries are just starting to hit markets on the east coast in late May/early June, so keep your eyes peeled.
And here’s everything else you’ll need:
For the shortcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a small mesh sieve (see our favorite way to hard-cook eggs)
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the strawberry filling:
3 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved or quartered, depending on size
2 tablespoons sugar
For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
5. To start the shortcakes: Make it rain!
Sift together the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder into a bowl.
7. Work the butter in with your hands.
Use your fingertips to pinch the butter into the flour mixture until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Two forks or a pastry blender also work.
12. Next, get your dough into shape.
Dump the dough out onto a floured surface, knead two or three times so it holds together, then pat gently until it’s an even thickness (about 1 inch) all the way around.
13. Use a floured biscuit cutter or glass to cut those shorties out.
Make sure to flour your cutter in between biscuits and cut straight down without twisting (this will help them grow up big and tall). Transfer each round to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and then butter the tops. Sprinkle with a little sugar, because, obviously. Then throw them in the oven!
14. After 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees, you’ll have these:
Aren’t they beautiful?
15. While they cool, macerate your strawberries.
Just sprinkle with a little sugar, toss, and wait for the berries to get juicy.
16. And whip cream. Cream is non-negotiable.
These are soft peaks, which is what you want. Any further and you’ll start to get clumps, which is sad. Make sure to steal a little with your pinky finger.
17. Assemble, like so.
Using a fork or serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half lengthwise. Place the bottom halves plates and generously spoon the macerated fruit and juices over them. Top with a heaping (HEAPING) dollop of whipped cream. Top with the top halves of the shortcakes.