Thursday, June 11, 2009

straw-baby shortcakes

Please excuse the pukey name, but aren't these the cutest mini strawberry shortcakes you've ever seen? I made them for our potluck a few weeks ago. I wish I could say I was clever and made them tiny on purpose, but I got a little mixed up as I tend to do when baking--producing bite-sized shortcakes instead of normal, biscuit-sized ones.

I didn't want to spend time rolling and cutting biscuits, so I made lightly sweetened drop biscuits from the Joy of Cooking. The recipe called for walnut-sized balls of dough, which seemed really small, and I wrongly assumed they would rise and spread out, becoming normal-sized biscuits.

I really wanted a large, traditional shortcake that could be split and half and filled with whipped cream and berries. I freaked out for a moment, thinking that my plan was foiled and people wouldn't want to eat a dessert so minuscule, but quickly reminded myself that people love tiny things. Chihuahuas, sliders, and newborn babies are all small and beloved.

So I packed up the shortcakes and the containers of cut-up strawberries and whipped cream and decided to wing it. When dessert time rolled around, I arranged the shortcakes on a big platter, then covered them with a layer of strawberries and dotted the whole thing with poufs of whipped cream.

And you know what--it was fine. The dish was pretty, even! Everyone helped themselves to a shortcake or two and some berries and cream and when you ate them all together it was a perfect little strawberry shortcake. Or straw-baby shortcake.

Straw-baby shortcakes
The biscuits are adapted from the Joy of Cooking's quick drop biscuits recipe.
(Serves 10 to 12 people)

For the shortcakes:
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
zest of one lemon (optional)
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup milk

For the strawberries:
2 pints strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into quarters or halves, if the berries are small
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint (basil or tarragon would also be nice)
1/2 lemon, juiced

2 cups whipped cream

Make the biscuits: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and lemon zest. Add the butter and mix it into the flour, tossing the pieces with your fingers, coating and separating as you work. Do not allow the butter to melt or form a paste with the flour. Continue to cut in the butter until the largest pieces are the size of peas and the rest resemble breadcrumbs. Add the milk all at once. Mix the batter with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are moistened. With a lightly floured hand, gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently against the sides and bottom of the bowl 5 to 10 times, turning and pressing any loose pieces into the dough each time until the adhere and the bowl is fairly clean. The batter should be moist and sticky but not smooth.

Use a teaspoon to form walnut-sized scoops of batter (or make them larger if you don't want mini biscuits), use another spoon to scrape the batter onto an ungreased baking sheet, spacing the biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until the biscuit bottoms are a deep golden brown, about 12 minutes.

To make the strawberries: combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, place the biscuits on a large tray (or a few on individual plates) and top with berries and whipped cream. Serve immediately.


Daniel said...

Other tiny things that people love: Intel processors, Nate Robinson of the Knicks (, baby bok choy, emotional support ponies (, Lisa...

Lisa said...

OMG, how could I have forgotten my beloved emotional support ponies (AKA emo ponies)? Thank you for reminding me about them. Now I will continue to badger you for one.

Nate Robinson is also small--by NBA standards.


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