Remember those strawberries we picked last summer? While we used most of them making jam or just ate them with whipped cream, we squirreled some away in the freezer until just the right moment. Turns out the right moment was me declaring “Tonight I’m making strawberry shortcake.” In the middle of winter, because craving knows no season.
Now I’ve never made shortcake before; I’ve only had the grocery store spongecake variety. If you’re anything like me in that regard (and chances are good), try making your own some day. It’s well worth the small amount of effort. For that matter, make your own whipped cream, too. It’s cheaper and far tastier.
Recipes for shortbread abound, though most use shortening which I didn’t have on hand. Fortunately I found this recipe that uses only butter. Turns out real shortbread is a lot like biscuits, which I bake all the time thanks to my Southern blood. A good tip for this kind of thing: when it comes time to cut the butter into the flour mixture, grate your butter into the flour instead and mix it in by hand. We’ve got one of those rotary cheese graters that are ubiquitous in Italian restaurants, and it makes the task a lot easier.
Strawberry shortcake may be a traditionally Summer desert, and sure it’s better with fresh strawberries, but there’s nothing wrong with having it when there’s snow outside. Besides, in the frozen months, we could sure use a taste of the sun.
Angela picking berries at Orleans Fruit Farm
It was a very warm day, but since I had the day off, we leaped at the chance to go berry picking. We had been making plans to go pick strawberries and try to make jam this summer, and who knew if we’d get another chance. So, out we went: three adults, one baby, one seven-year-old boy…determined to find the sweetest, the reddest, the most delicious strawberries at the U-Pick.
Thanks to some great advice from PickYourOwn.org, even the absolute beginners among us were able to spot the best berries and fill baskets quickly. We probably picked too many berries; we definitely overestimated how many we’d need for jam. The strawberries were delectably sweet, however, and irresistible.
After a little lunch, we set about making jam. This was a first for Justin and me, so we didn’t get it perfect, but we made 12 beautiful jars of jam: 6 strawberry, 6 strawberry-vanilla. We used a water-bath canner to seal the jars, and every one of them sealed, which we thought was a victory.
The next day, we could hardly wait to taste the jam, and Justin made biscuits for breakfast. It came out beautiful, red, sweet, and just a bit runny…all in all, a success. We’d thought we’d save money by making our own, but we’re eating it by the spoonful so I doubt there will be much savings! However, it’s going to be a nice treat once the strawberries are out of season, to have our very own fresh and local preserves, made by us!
Sneaking a taste
Hull the berries
Mash the berries
Fresh from the oven
Beautiful and delicious