Today: If you can't wait until peak strawberry season for your shortcake fix, here's how to give your store-bought berries an upgrade.
These first days of spring mark the return of fresh produce to farmers markets around the country, but on the East Coast we won’t see our first strawberries until June. The thing is, I am impatient, so instead of waiting until then to enjoy my first berries of the year, I buy them at the grocery store and use a little trick to help them shine.
I roast them in the oven along with some bold flavors including a dose of zingy citrus and ginger, sweet vanilla, and my very favorite spring ingredient: rhubarb. A quick trip to the oven softens the fruit into a juicy compote that is just the thing to top buttery shortcakes.
More: Stumped by rhubarb? Here's everything you need to know.
The shortcake recipe below is made with equal parts all-purpose and rye flours for a bit of milky sweetness, but if you don’t keep a stock of rye flour at the ready, your favorite cream scone or biscuit recipe will do the job just fine. Just make sure to top the whole mess with a fat dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, and enjoy immediately.
This recipe can be easily doubled or even tripled to feed a crowd if you have guests coming over this weekend.
For the shortcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/2 cup buttermilk, chilled
2 tablespoons crunchy sugar (such as turbinado), for sprinkling
Heavy cream to brush the tops of the shortcakes
Preheat oven to 400º F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender (or two knives) until it is the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the ingredients, then add in the buttermilk and heavy cream. Stir gently until just combined. It is okay if there are a few dry spots. If it seems very dry, add more heavy cream or buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a square about 1 inch thick. Fold the dough in half over itself and pat it into a square about 1 inch thick. Repeat this process one more time. Then, use a floured 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut the dough. Place the cut shortcakes onto the prepared baking sheet. Gently re-roll scraps and cut again. Put the whole baking sheet into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Brush the tops of the shortcakes with heavy cream and sprinkle with crunchy sugar. Bake until the tops are browned and the shortcakes are cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
For the Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb:
1 pound strawberries, trimmed, hulled, and cut in half
3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons honey, or more to taste
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 strips lemon zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler
2 strips orange zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
Juice from 1/2 an orange, roughly a few tablespoons
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 375 ºF. Gently toss all of the ingredients together on a baking sheet, including the vanilla bean seeds and pod. Roast in the oven until the fruit is juicy and soft and the juices just begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
Let the fruit cool to room temperature and remove the vanilla bean pod and citrus zest just before serving.
To serve: Slice the shortcakes in half, then top with a generous spoonful of fruit and a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy immediately.
Photos by Yossy Arefi