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Buckwheat Strawberry Shortcakes
(recipe, Alice Medrich)
Not your usual strawberry shortcakes, these cakey little cream scones with a hint of buckwheat for flavor are an inspired partner for strawberries and cream. I seek out the small sweet Seascape strawberries from my local farmers' market whenever possible. And I often substitute blackberries when they are ripe and sweet.
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. (1.7 ounces) buckwheat flour
- ¼ cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1¾ tsp. baking powder, sifted if lumpy
- ⅜ tsp. salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- A little extra cream (dregs left in the bottom of the measuring cup) or milk for brushing the tops
- 1¼ cups heavy cream
- Sugar to taste
- 2 to 2½ pt. (16 to 20 ounces) fresh ripe strawberries, rinsed, patted dry, and hulled
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with two layers of parchment paper (two layers protect the bottoms of the shortcakes from browning too fast before the top and interior are fully baked).
- In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour the cream into it (set the measuring cup aside). Use a rubber spatula to push the dry ingredients from the sides of the bowl into the well, cutting and turning the mixture just until the dry ingredients are almost entirely moistened and the dough looks rough and shaggy. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently against the sides of the bowl five or so times, pressing loose pieces into the dough, until it just holds together (it should not be smooth) and the bowl is fairly clean.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat into a 6-inch square about ¾-inch thick. Trim the edges, using a sharp knife and quick downward (guillotine) strokes, so as not to compress the dough, for the best rise. Cut the dough into 9 squares. Place them at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with the cream left in the bottom of the measuring cup or with a little milk, and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
- Bake the shortcakes until the tops are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.
- Meanwhile, in a chilled bowl, whip the cream, sweetening it lightly to taste, if desired (I don't always sweeten the cream if the berries are sweet) as it begins to thicken. Continue beating until it holds a soft shape — not too stiff. (The cream can be covered and refrigerated for up to several hours. If liquid separates from the cream, whisk briefly before using.)
- Slice the berries and sweeten them lightly to taste (I use 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar). For a saucier filling (optional), transfer one quarter of the berries to another bowl and mash them with a fork. Stir them back into the remaining sliced berries. (The berries can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 hour).
- To assemble the shortcakes, slice each cake horizontally in half. Place the bottom halves on serving plates. Top each with a scoop of strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Cover with the tops of the cakes.
You can also serve the shortcakes warm. Reheat the cakes on a cookie sheet in a preheated 325-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes. (Reheating crisps the delicate crust on top of the cakes and accentuates the soft tender interiors.) Whip the cream a little stiffer than usual. Split and fill the warm cakes, and serve immediately.