Strawberry Shortcake was a June staple in my childhood, Pacific NW strawberry season coming as it did in convergence with my mother’s birthday, my birthday, and my sister’s birthday. It was never ever made with the tasteless little store-bought sponge cakes sold in the produce section at the grocery store. Never with pound cake, a perfectly good dessert, but not shortcake. We might have had strawberries with angel food cake, but it was not called strawberry shortcake. I suspect my mother’s recipe for shortcake was the one on the Bisquick box, but I don’t know that for certain.
Berries were sliced, crushed, and sprinkled with sugar—the kids’ job—then left on the counter to marinate. Whipped cream was made from whipping cream and powdered sugar, whipped up in an honest-to-god mixer or with a manual hand-mixer, never squirted from a can, never Cool Whip.
I confess to having used a sugary biscuit dough recipe for shortcake, maybe even Bisquick, but none tops this one my sister found and uses. It’s strawberry season! Enjoy!
Sugared strawberries w/ Grand Marnier
8 c. fresh strawberries, stemmed & sliced
¼ – ⅓ c. sugar
3 T. fresh orange juice
3 T. Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or OJ
2-½ c. flour
2-½ tsp. baking powder
½ c. yellow cornmeal
⅔ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1-½ c. heavy cream
4 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 tsp. grated orange zest
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
Sugar for coating (about ⅓ c.)
To prepare the strawberries: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
To make the shortcake: Preheat the oven to 350º. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Stir in the cream, lemon zest, and orange zest until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Form into a ball and knead 8 to 12 times, or until the ball holds its shape. Cut the dough into 8 equal portions and roll into balls. Roll the dough in the melted butter, then the sugar. Place on a created baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Let cool slightly on a wire rack.
To assemble: Cut each shortcake in half. Top the bottom half with fruit and whipped cream. Place the top halves on top and serve!