Happy Memorial Day! With all the festivities that surround Memorial Day, it sometimes requires a moment to stop and think about the real reason for this holiday. It is not about barbecues and outdoor fun, although that has become a much beloved part of the celebration. First and foremost we are celebrating all those who gave up so much for our country. “Memoriam.” That is what the day really is all about.
Along with this, so many of us think of this day as the beginning of summer, even though summer doesn’t actually arrive until June 20th. Beaches and pools open on this weekend. This is the weekend when most people clean up their barbecue grills, and start the season of outdoor cooking and eating. All the glory and fun of summer seems to begin on this somewhat solemn occasion. Interesting.
It’s usually around this time that I start to think about what will be my dessert of choice this summer. It’s usually something fruity, using the fruit or berry of the season. It’s also usually something light. So when called upon to bring dessert to a family barbecue, I decided to think back to my youth, and try to remember (not an easy feat for me these days, mind you) some summertime desserts that my mom would make. The first thing that came to my mind was her strawberry shortcake. I decided to search through her recipe folder, and there it was…from the Newark Sunday News, June 4, 1967!
Over the decades, I had made my version of this recipe, and of course there are now so many different variations on this classic. I simply used a boxed cake mix instead of making the cake from scratch. This was the way we (most of us homemakers) rolled in the 80s and 90s, and actually, until recently when this “whole foods” movement became so popular. Now, I’m so much happier baking ( and cooking) with whole ingredients, rather than the time-saving boxed cake mixes. Honestly, it doesn’t take that much more time.
So I decided to go back to my roots, and follow this recipe to the mark, except I don’t use margarine. Back in the 60’s, margarine was thought to be healthier than butter, but we all now know that this is not so. It’s delicious, and it tastes old fashioned, if that’s possible. Or maybe it was the visual of my mom coming out of the kitchen door to the back yard, carrying this dreamy looking desert, in the heat of summer that made me taste those warm summer days of my past.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and are able to enjoy all that summer has to offer.
2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour or cake flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup soft-type butter
3/4 cup milk
1 quart strawberries
1 pint heavy cream (they use 1 cup, but I’m sorry…no. Use a whole pint)
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Mix flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl.
2. Cut in soft-type butter until mixture is like coarse meal.
3. Make depression (well) in center.
4. Beat together the egg and milk, and add to the flour mixture. Stir until moistened.
5. Spread in an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan that had been coated with butter.
6. Bake in 450 degree oven for 17 to 20 minutes.
7. While the shortcake is baking, hull and slice the strawberries. Sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar and allow to stand.
8. Whip the heavy cream with the vanilla and 1 TBSP. of sugar.
9. When shortcake is baked and cooled, turn out of pan and split with a serrated knife. Spread with 2 TBSP of soft-type butter.
10. Spoon half the strawberries over the bottom layer. Then top with the whipped cream and the remainder of the strawberries.***
***NOTE: this recipe said to spoon the strawberries between and over the top of layers, and then top with whipped cream, but I thought it looked prettier with the strawberries on top.