Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake, Cream in the Middle.



With spring in full swing and summer hot on her tail, we've been watching our little farm exploding with life.  The hops vines are crawling up the side of the corn crib,

Hops!  We'll harvest at the end of the summer and dry the "flowers" in the barn loft.  Once they've been dried, we'll start brewing.

the broccoli is baring its cruciferous head,

Interesting that my broccoli is left untouched but the critters are all over the green strawberries.




the asparagus patch has peaked,

This is the asparagus patches' 2nd year.  Which means you have to be a good and patient farmer and not cut any for eating to allow the nutrients to go to root structure.  We'll be able to harvest in earnest next year.
This is how high they grow when unharvested!


the strawberries are just starting to show themselves,


and the ducklings are growing everyday.

Mama goose keeps a watchful eye on the babies.
What a joy to see all these things growing, flowering and fruiting in concert.  Some arrive early to gently usher us into the season and others hold back their gifts until the summer ebbs and we look towards autumn.

But for all of mother nature's thoughtful scheduling on our little farm, I had to break ranks and run to the farmer's market to get hot house strawberries to quench my thirst for summer's berry just a little ahead of nature's well intentioned plan.

I'm making strawberry shortcake!



STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

INGREDIENTS

for the shortcake

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour (I use King Arthur Flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces (1 1/2 sticks butter)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 scant tablespoon baking powder
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
(to finish the "cake" 1 egg and 1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw or sanding sugar)

for the filling

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1/2 cup granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme, finely chopped


PROCEDURE

for the shortcake

•Preheat oven to 350º.

•In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and stir with your hands to distribute the ingredients.

•Add the butter and whirl around with your hands to coat the butter with flour.  Gently "pinch" the butter with your fingertips to massage the butter into the flour.  Continue "massaging" until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal.

•Whisk together the buttermilk, yolk and zest.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently stir the two together with your hands to coat the dry ingredients.  Continue working the mixture gently with your hands until the dough is uniformly wet and no dry clumps of flour remain.

Dough.  It looks messy but it's just right.

•Flour your work surface.  Gently pat the dough into a rough 12" x 5" rectangle.  Trim the edges of the rectangle and then cut the dough into 5" x 2" strips.


•Place the strips onto a parchment lined sheet pan, a few inches apart.  Whisk together the egg with 2 tablespoons water to create an egg wash.  Brush the tops of the "cakes with the egg wash and sprinkle with the Sugar in the Raw or sanding sugar.

•Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops of the "cakes" are deeply golden brown.  Allow to cool completely.

For the filling

Combine the strawberries, the 1/2 cup sugar, the lemon juice and thyme.  Stir together.  Allow to sit for at least 1/2 hour, until the sugar has melted and the strawberry juices start to run.

•Combine the heavy cream and confectioner's sugar and whisk on high until the whipped cream reaches stiff peaks.

To finish

•Slice the cooled cakes in half.  Spoon a few tablespoons of strawberry juice over the bottom half of each cake.  Line with a few halves of strawberry and then pipe the whipped cream along the middle of the cake.  Place halves of strawberry along the perimeter of the whipped cream.  Place the top half of the "cake" on top of the cream and strawberries.