Summer Berry Shortcake

So a couple weeks ago after dinner, I got this crazy hankering for shortcake. I really, really, REALLY wanted it.

I know that when a lot of ‘y’all think of shortcake you think of those spongy pre-made mini ‘dessert shells’ with the indent that you can find in the produce section of the grocery store near the strawberries. Y’know the dessert shells that should really just get called by their true name: sponge cake. I’ve seen some that are just straight up angel food cakes. Not that I have a problem with them per se. There’s no judgment here; depending on the company, those can actually be pretty tasty.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

In the first place, sponge cake isn’t shortcake. It’s light and airy and spongy. It’s…sponge cake.

All of the above adjectives contradict shortcake by it’s very definition. Shortcakes are actually very similar to an American-style biscuit, both in texture and the baking method. In a sponge cake, egg whites are beaten until they’re stiff to make the crumb as light as possible. The point of a ‘short’cake, is actually to make a ‘shorter’, denser crumb.

If you’ve tried any of my biscuit recipes on the blog already, then this ,method will look very familiar to you. The frozen butter (and we’ve already established why it’s important that it is frozen) is grated directly into the dry ingredients. I used cake flour to give it the best texture, then in addition to the sugar, flavored the dough with vanilla, ground ginger and cardamom. The spices aren’t overpowering–they’re just going to give the shortcakes a little something extra flavor-wise. You’re going to like it, promise.

The result is a shortcake that has just the right texture. It is slightly dense, but it’s also buttery and tender, with enough height to split it in two and sandwich with the good stuff. Now what that ‘good stuff’ is, I’m going to leave entirely up to you. This is summertime, which means there are plenty of delicious fruits that are in season that are perfect for shortcake; strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots. All are excellent choices. I went with the strawberries and blackberries, but it’s your shortcake so go with what you like best. And of course y’all know to make/use a ton of good whipped cream to cram inside and dollop on top.  It’s the summer–get downright nasty with it.

Linking this up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #230, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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Summer Berry Shortcake

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Shortcake

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, frozen
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed

For Berries

  • 2 quarts of your choice of berries (I used a mix of strawberries & blackberries)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

For Berries: combine the sugar and lemon juice together with the berries and allow to sit for one hour.

Preheat oven to 425°. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. In a small bowl combine the egg with the buttermilk and vanilla extract, set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cardamom and sugar—stir with a fork until combined. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg-buttermilk mixture and stir to combine with a fork. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the shortcakes to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut shortcakes, pressing scraps together to make more no more than two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place shortcakes slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving. Just before serving, split open the shortcakes, spoon half the berries and whipped cream on the bottom half, top with remaining shortcake halves, and spoon on the remaining berries and cream.

Triple Berry Slab Pie

Berry Slab Pie1

When was the last time that you did something that made you really, really, REALLY proud of yourself?

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes when I was a little girl; for a six year old, it was literally one of those moments when it seems like the clouds part and a ray of sunshine shines just on you. I was walking on air from that for days.

I played the lead in an 8th grade musical (“Once on This Island”, in case there are any theater nerds out there like me) and when the sound system suddenly and unexpectedly cut out, I sang my solo song completely accappella. And I nailed it. Got an ovation and everything. That made me feel pretty good.

I made Dean’s List for nearly every semester of my undergrad college years…all while holding down 2-3 jobs (I have no idea how I did this now that it’s over, by the way).

My mom has a specific, rare smile that when she gives me, makes me feel like I can do absolutely anything in the world.

There’s nothing wrong with having those moments of pride; most people spend too much time obsessed with the things that they haven’t done, or are doing wrong. I think we should think more about the things that we’re actually doing right. So why don’t we try to think of the last moment of extreme pride or satisfaction that we had because of something we did. Think of it, then give yourself a pat on the back. Do your own little personal victory dance. Go ahead- you deserve it.

Berry Slab Pie2

These days, most of my moments of pride or self-congratulations come from me doing something new and intimidating in the kitchen, so this exercise is pretty easy for me to do. I was proud the first time I cooked something that came out of a box. I was proud when I first made a yeast bread. I was proud when I first made my grandma’s caramel cake (just WAIT until I share that one with you all, you will die, go to Heaven, then come back to life just to eat it again. No, I’m serious.). Doing new things in the kitchen is such an easy stroke to my ego- there’s no shame in my game about that, either. It’s most likely the reason that I try to do it often.

This is one of those things that I’ve done that just made me feel friggin fantastic about myself, to the point where I felt like I had to share it with you. I’m still giving myself victory dances, high fives, pats on the back and major props for pulling this recipe off, guys. Not just because of how it tastes (which is enough on its own, believe me), it’s also because this is the very first time that I made my own from scratch pie-crust. A very big pie crust at that. As in a 15 x 10 inch double layer pie crust.

Berry Slab Pie3

Pie crust may seem like it’s not that big of a deal to pull off from scratch, but anyone who’s made one before will tell you that it’s actually more complicated than it sounds. Like biscuits, pie dough has to be handled with finesse and care, or there’s a huge potential to ruin it. Which is probably why I’ve avoided it so stubbornly for such a long time. Then I saw this article on Buzzfeed featuring something called ‘slab pie’ that basically changed everything for me.

I had never heard of baking a pie into a sheet pan before, but it seemed (and looked) like a fantastic idea. I mean, just say it out loud will you: Slaaaaaab… Piiiiiie. Doesn’t the sound of it just make you want a huge, thick slab of it all to yourself (pun intended)?

I certainly felt that way. Slab Pie was calling my name. I had to answer. The problem was, I would need a whole LOT of pie crust to pull it off- and I didn’t really feel like buying a whole bunch of store-bought pre-made pie crusts, then trying to roll them all together to make two 15 x 10 inch layers for both top and bottom of the pie. Not when I knew it would be cheaper and more efficient to just try to make them on my own.

I know that by now, you probably want some of this pie. You’re probably thinking about how much of the ingredients you already have at home. If you’ve never made pie crust before, you’re probably wondering if it’s really that difficult to pull off, or that easy to mess up. It’s okay guys. I’ve been in your shoes before. Let me walk you through this.

Berry Slab Pie5

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that the single most important thing you can do in making  pie crust from scratch is this: freeze your butter.

Let me repeat: freeze… your…butter. Throw it in the freezer overnight. Leave it there until the very moment you’re ready to handle it. Don’t take it out an hour before you want to make the crust to ‘thaw’ or soften. It’s not necessary. All you’ll need to do with it, is use a box grater, then run the ice cold sticks of butter over the large grating grill so that it comes out the other side in solid, curly strands. These strands are going to become your best friends. Why? Because they’re what’s going to keep your pie crust nice and flakey to the point where it will melt in your mouth after it’s done baking, that’s why.. After the butter is grated, the pie crust is pretty simple to put together. If you’re not using a food processor, I would also recommend using a rubber spatula to work the dough together, as hands conduct unnecessary heat into the dough.

Berry Slab Pie6

Guys, this pie came out so good. Really, it did. The making of the pie crust was a little extra labor, but me and my entire family all agree: it was well worth the result. And even though the recipe yields a lot, I still wouldn’t be surprised if you still ran out of it. This is one of those foods that you don’t want to share. You just want to hog it all to yourself to make sure you get as much as possible. Could be why I’ve already made this twice: a triple berry version, as well as an all raspberry version. Both were delicious. Both are all long gone. Guess it’s gonna be time for me to make another one pretty soon, huh? I’m thinking caramel apple. Or maybe strawberry rhubarb. Or how about sour cherry?

I think my favorite part of slab pie is that the recipe makes so much- it’s perfect for a large crows for a barbecue, dinner party, or gathering. So, I’ve decided to bring this over to Fiesta Friday- hope you guys enjoy it. (I told you last week you’d need yoga pants, didn’t I? ;-))

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

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Triple Berry Slab Pie

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups ice water

For the Filling

  • 6 cups of fresh or frozen berries (I used 2 cups each of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

1. Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

2. With machine running, add 1 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix. Divide dough into 2 disks; wrap each tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to overnight) .

3. Preheat oven to 400°. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, and lemon zest and juice.

4. On a floured work surface, roll out 1 disk to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Place in a 10-by-14-by-1-inch rimmed jelly-roll pan. Pour in berry filling, then lightly brush edges of crust with water.

5. On floured surface, roll out second disk to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle and lay over berry filling; press along moistened edges to seal. Fold overhang under, tucking it into pan, and crimp edges. With a paring knife, cut slits on top to vent

6. Place pie in oven, then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature

 

 

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