I love strawberry shortcakes made with biscuits rather than cake! And I love drop biscuits because there is no rolling out or cutting the dough. These cream biscuits are even more streamlined—there’s no butter to cut in and no worrisome biscuit-making technique to deter you! So here they are. The biscuits take less than 5 minutes to measure, mix, and shape. They come from the oven looking deliciously homely, with a craggy golden brown crust hiding a moist and buttery crumb. They are perfection with sweet ripe berries and cream, if you can manage to not eat them up immediately. Because these are so very easy, I’ve added one tiny little extra step: some of the berries are puréed to make a juicy little sauce for those biscuits. You can skip it if you like. No harm, no foul. —Alice Medrich
For the shortcakes:
(130 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour
1 1/4 teaspoons
plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Sugar for sprinkling
For the filling:
(680 grams or 24 ounces) fresh, ripe strawberries if you are making the purée (or 2 pints if not), rinsed, patted dry, and hulled
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, or rose cream (see note in step 6)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with 3 layers of parchment paper (to protect the bottoms of the biscuits from browning too much before interiors are fully baked).
In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour the cream and milk into it. Don’t stir. Use a rubber spatula to push the flour from the sides of the bowl into the well as you rotate the bowl. Continue pushing the flour into the cream, occasionally lifting, folding, or turning it over (without smearing or mashing) until the flour is evenly and entirely moistened. The whole business should look shaggy and porous like a large sponge—not at all smooth. This takes a few seconds, less time to do than it takes to describe!
Drop 8 equal scoops of batter (each a scant 1?4 cup) 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle each scoop liberally with sugar.
Bake until the biscuits are deep golden brown on the surface and almost too brown underneath, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back about half way through the baking. Set the pan on a rack to cool. Serve the biscuits warm or at room temperature, or reheat them in a 325 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
To assemble shortcakes: Puree about one third of the berries with 2 or 3 teaspoons of sugar, to taste. Cut the remaining berries into quarters (or smaller pieces if the berries are huge). Cut the biscuits horizontally in half and place the bottoms on serving dishes. Spoon a little puree on each half, heap berries on top, spoon a little more puree over the berries. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Set a biscuit top on the cream. Pass any extra puree at the table or decorate the plates with it.
Note: to make the optional rose cream, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater to 1 cup of cold heavy cream before whipping it. Adjust the sugar and rosewater to taste toward the end.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).