Favorite Strawberry Shortcake

by Matt on May 11, 2010

I’ve toured enough strawberry fields and interviewed enough growers in my lifetime to realize this: sometimes strawberries blow your mind and sometimes strawberries leave you with that “meh” feeling. And the difference isn’t something you spot visually – sometimes even the most anemic-looking berries can pack a flavor punch while large beautiful red ones can leave you wanting more.

While it’s true that strawberries can grow year round here in California it doesn’t always mean they taste great. For the record I’m not a snob and will buy berries all year long if needed but it doesn’t always make me happy. But you know what makes me happy? When things are in season, when berries taste like berries and not flavored lipstick, and just a simple preparation is enough to seal the deal.

Strawberry Shortcake is one of my favorite desserts. It’s perfect really. A small cake or biscuit, strawberries, some syrup and whipped cream. What is not to love? But like most desserts the quality of the ingredients is paramount. No amount of perfect strawberries can save a hockey puck and why go through the trouble of creating a perfect biscuit if you only top it with substandard berries? It’s just not worth it.

My friend Elise wrote about this recipe a few years ago and we only recently tried it. One dessert became two. Two became three. Three became four and over this past weekend I was appalled that my diet consisted of a few pounds of strawberries from the farmers’ market and these biscuits with slightly-sweetened whipped cream. I couldn’t help myself, really. Perfect biscuits, slightly sweetened with a scone-like density, did me in. Or was it the strawberries, perfectly sweet with the right about of tart zing? Wait, it could have been the whipped cream, something I’m a sucker for on just about anything. Whatever it was, this dessert is now officially my most.favorite.thing.ever because it’s not too sweet and it’s just right.

Strawberry Shortcake

Kindly reprinted from Simply Recipes (and adapted from Fine Cooking) because I begged Elise if I could once I tried it. Make this and you’ll understand why.

For the strawberries and the whipping cream

3 baskets of fresh strawberries. Make sure they are the best you can use!
1/2 cup sugar
Whipping cream

Remove the stems from the strawberries. Slice into thin (1/4″ to 1/8″) slices. Put into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet the strawberries are to begin with) and mix into the strawberries. Set aside at room temperature to macerate. After 20 minutes, gently mash the strawberries with a potato masher.  Go easy, you only want to bring out the juices and not crush the berries.

Whip the cream, adding a drop or two of vanilla and a teaspoon of sugar.

To serve, break one biscuit into big pieces and ladle strawberries on top. Add a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of the strawberry liquid if desired.

For the biscuits

3 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Toss with a fork to combine. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or a fork until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. (Or pulse several times in a food processor.) Combine the cream and vanilla in a liquid measure. Make a well in the center of the flour and and pour the cream mixture into the well. Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened and just combined; it should look shaggy and still feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand five or six times to create a loose ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into an 8-inch square, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat, cover with plastic and chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Heat the oven to 425ºF. Remove the dough from refrigerator. Cut the dough into 9 even squares and spread them about 2 inches apart from each other on the baking sheet. Bake until the biscuits are medium golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.

Makes 9 biscuits. (Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, July 2003)

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne May 11, 2010 at 8:27 am

Whoever said strawberry was overrated must have lost his mind. Spring and strawberry shortcake are the best couple.

Jessica May 11, 2010 at 8:35 am

Strawberry shortcake is one of the most refreshing, light desserts. This just looks divine!

TripleScoop May 11, 2010 at 8:49 am

Simple and delicious. Let not over complicate our food. As always love your photo, simple white and let the strawberries pop. I’m really looking forward to your book.

Lauren @ Healthy Delicious May 11, 2010 at 9:34 am

Yum! I’ve been loving strawberries lately – I feel like they’re the best this spring than they’ve been in a few years! this might be my dessert tonight. :)

Bobi from Bshphotography May 11, 2010 at 10:19 am

As TripleScoop said- “Simple and delicious”. For me personaly strawberries have always looked delicious . Great photography!

Paula May 11, 2010 at 11:56 am

It looks so yummy! i`ll do this :)

The French May 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I generally try and buy organic as they’re rated high on the pesticide list, but sometimes the organics have literally no flavor. So then what’s the point? Bought some huge ones at the farmers market @ 3rd and Fairfax the other day and have no idea if they’re organic, local or whatever, but they were juicy and delicious and sometimes that’s all you’re lookin for:)

Thanks for the recipe. Gonna try this later this week!

Mandy May 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm

That looks delicious, but if that’s strawberry shortcake, what do you call this?


melissa mcgee May 11, 2010 at 3:33 pm

strawberry shortcake is a staple at our family’s sunday lunch table all summer long. this is just about exactly the same recipe – simple – as i use, as handed down by my mother, and by her mother before her. here in texas, if the strawberries come from poteet, the shortcake is guaranteed to disappear almost immediately! lovely post filled with great memories, beautiful photos and a need for strawberry shortcake…

The Housewife May 11, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Growing up in India, strawberries were an exotic foreign fruit. Now, as I live for most of the time in socal, my diet too includes a frighteningly large number of strawberries! Thank for your sharing :)

Stacy Bakri May 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Oh! I wish I had seen your recipe last week when I made my strawberry shortcake. The vanilla in the dough and the sugar on the top of the biscuits would have made a world of difference. As it was, my biscuits were bland. Next time I want to dip my biscuits in melted chocolate. YUM!

Cathy/ShowFoodChef May 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Your picture looks like I could pick up one of those strawberries! Love it.

lichen May 12, 2010 at 12:58 am

I love dessert.All kinds of cake is my favorite.Therefore, I amfat.

lichen May 12, 2010 at 1:00 am

I admire person who make so delicious cake.

Eddie@CulinaryStudio May 12, 2010 at 4:16 am

I love strawberry shortcake! I can’t wait until strawberries are available in NY. I have heard this year is supposed to be a particularly good year for strawberries across the country.

Jane Ridolfi May 12, 2010 at 5:24 am


Helen May 12, 2010 at 7:08 am

I woke up with a craving for carbonara until I saw this. Now I want to be virtuous and eat whipped cream with strawberries and cake :)


Maria May 12, 2010 at 7:12 am

Lovely dessert, one of my all time favorites.

fernanda May 12, 2010 at 7:23 am

Nice, very very nice!!!

Marvin Jansen May 12, 2010 at 7:30 am

Oh…my the taste! and of course…Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in the phytonutrient world as a rich surce of phenols.

Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] May 12, 2010 at 11:57 am

That picture is perfection. I love your blogs. Thanks to KERF for sharing : )

kate May 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Your photos are absolutely gorgeous!

Miri May 13, 2010 at 7:01 am

I just did a post on strawberry shortcake, too! And I’ve been making them for dessert (and eating them for breakfast and lunch) a little too often, just like you have. Someone as my farmer’s market has the BEST little strawberries and they are totally the key ingredient.

Gaby May 13, 2010 at 3:19 pm

ummmmm obsessed!

redmenace May 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Too true. A bad strawberry is a bad strawberry. Sort of like an orange, right? I hate a bad dry orange. This recipe looks absolutely great. I’m always looking for the perfect strawberry shortcake recipe. I can’t believe it’s time of year to start trying them again. Thanks, Matt! I love your blog!

dining room tables May 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I like strawberries during this time of the year! Nice combination and a nice stay in the garden! Perfect!

Giovani May 14, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Love the new design for the site & the new sections. Matt + flying donuts is one of my favorite portraits of yours. I haven’t read anywhere as to why your flickr account is no longer active. I miss looking through your self portraits.

MrJackhonky May 15, 2010 at 12:19 am

Strawberries ABOUND right now! I made strawberry shortcake (and blogged about it) a month ago as an emergency birthday cake. It’s a similar recipe – though I used buttermilk in the biscuit. I do have to say I’m HORRIFIED at the idea that you would mash (no matter how gently) the strawberries beforehand!

But that’s just me. I like a firm fruit. *cough*. I use the zest and juice of a meyer lemon in the strawberries to make the syrup. With the macerating, no mashing is required.

Your photos of the shortcake and the strawberries are gorgeous! I love Elise over at Simply Recipes! Thanks for the post though. Strawberry shortcake. I may have to make it again before my ever growing short attention span switches from strawberries to cherries.

Cooking in Mexico May 15, 2010 at 4:59 am

I want to dive into your photo, and keep falling, falling through layers of strawberries and cream.


Bin May 15, 2010 at 1:46 pm

strawberry shortcake is a staple at our family’s sunday lunch table all summer long. this is just about exactly the same recipe – simple – as i use, as handed down by my mother, and by her mother before her. here in texas, if the strawberries come from poteet, the shortcake is guaranteed to disappear almost immediately! lovely post filled with great memories, beautiful photos and a need for strawberry shortcake…

Chris May 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I’m with “The French,” the organic strawberries around here usually don’t taste like much but the ones I’ve found at the farmers market recently have been outstanding.

Thanks for the luscious post Matt; after next week’s trek to the farmers market, strawberry shortcake is going to be on the menu. By the way, great new look on your site!

Lauren May 15, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Oh goodness =). I have a lovely gluten-free biscuit in mind. I think I’ll have to make this happen. Really quite soon.

Nancy May 15, 2010 at 7:43 pm

You read my mind! Strawberries are about to be ready in my home town and the one dessert my whole clan can agree on is strawberry shortcake! We are getting ready for a big graduation celebration and I am going to make these over that weekend! Who doesn’t love fruit that is at its peak, whipped cream and a perfect biscuit…can’t wait to make some dough! thanx!

Theresa May 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm

And the dollop strikes again! Flavorwise, the chilled whipped cream is what brings the whole thing together I think. I can just TASTE early summer days (and we’ve had rain for almost 3 weeks)..

Levi Atkinson May 17, 2010 at 8:07 am

This strwberry shortcake looks so delicious i cant explain, im goin to copy this recipe and make it asap.

Dawn Sandomeno May 17, 2010 at 8:17 am

Simply put, you and this cake Rock!

Katie @ haute from the oven May 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm

I think I’m going to dream about this tonight. Thanks Matt!

Kate @ Savour Fare May 20, 2010 at 3:18 pm

But you make the strawberries look so preeettttty.

Here is my strawberry tip, or warning, depending on how you view it.

The best strawberries in Southern California come from Harry’s Berries. They’re probably at your local farmer’s market. They are amazing. The Gaviota are good but the Seascape are all that a strawberry should be. My cousin works for Thomas Keller, and she says all their berries come from Harry’s.

However, they are fiendishly expensive (in comparison to the other stands at the farmer’s market this time of year) and once you eat them they spoil you for normal strawberries. So be warned.

Suzanne May 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Yum….looks so delicious!

Laken May 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I just made this and it was wonderful!

Jen May 22, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Strawberry season is soon – can’t wait to head to the market and pick up some pints and test this recipe out!

Jamie @ My Baking Addiction May 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! I am loving all the strawberry desserts I’ve been seeing!

betty May 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm

ah these look fantastic and i really do love biting into a beautiful red and plump juicy sweet strawberry

i think i wanna invest in my own strawbbery patch.. :)

Brooke @ Food Woolf May 25, 2010 at 1:08 pm

It’s true. The strawberries coming out right now (thanks, Harry’s Berries) are RIDONCULOUS. Nothing beats the perfect berry, whipped cream, and a soft biscuit. Or five. :)

Cynthia June 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Lovely! The strawberries are ripe here in CT and I am going to go strawberry picking this weekend. I will definately use your recipe. Thanks!

Baking Serendipity June 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm

These look amazing! I just stumbled upon your blog and am having such a great time looking around :)

joyce June 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Man, I love strawberry shortcakes!!!! Love your site too, the photos are stunning. I wish my site’s photos were even half as good. Only have time to take quick iphone pics sadly.

rsp2538 July 24, 2010 at 2:56 am


Valerie July 27, 2010 at 4:49 am

The strawberries in my area are phenomenal right now and this has inspired me to make a shortcake… how could I not?! The photo is gorgeous. Can’t wait to try the recipe!

Pretty. Good. Food. September 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I feel like when you make a recipe that is this simple but looks this good you should hand-deliver a bowl to your viewers so they can taste it! I’m lazy today and don’t want to go buy strawberries but man does this look so good! Great photos!

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