Strawberries mark start of sweet summer

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceJune 13, 2014 

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    If you don’t have the time or energy to create your own fruity desserts and dishes, there are a number of strawberry-themed events that will do the cooking for you:

    • 33rd annual Strawberry Festival, 4-8 p.m. June 14, Village Green, between Dale Street and Mount Nittany Road, Lemont. www.lemontvillage.org.

    • Supper and strawberry shortcake social, 5-7 p.m. June 18, Trinity United Church of Christ, 108 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Centre Hall. 364-2120.

    • 67th annual Strawberry Festival, 5:30-8 p.m. June 18, Faith United Church of Christ, 300 E. College Ave., State College. www.faithucc.info.

    • Strawberry festival, 3-5 p.m. June 22, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Fourth and Presqueisle streets, Philipsburg. 343-4626.

Baker and cookbook author Dorie Greenspan is taking the summertime staple strawberry shortcake and giving it a makeover.Greenspan, who has worked with the likes of Julia Child, is releasing her 11th cookbook. Their pairing seems as natural as strawberries and shortcake.

“There’s a reason that National Strawberry Shortcake Day is June 14. They welcome summer,” Greenspan said.

Greenspan is giving a new twist to the traditional strawberry shortcake recipe and tips on how to give a classic an added punch of flavor.

“It’s hard to do something new with something that’s made every summer,” Greenspan said.

Greenspan starts with a buttermilk biscuit foundation and adds lemon zest and rose extract to enhance the flavors of the shortcake and the strawberries.

A proponent of getting down and dirty with her baking, Greenspan uses her fingers to mash the zest into the sugar and uses her hands to smush together ingredients for the biscuits.

“The key to great biscuits is rubbing the flour and butter together with your fingertips until the ingredients are bumpy, lumpy and pebbly,” she said.

For newbie bakers, Greenspan’s biggest piece of advice is what seems the easiest.

“It sounds obvious, but always read the recipe first,” Greenspan said. “There’s nothing worse than looking forward to making something and reading through and realizing you don’t have the ingredients.”

Greenspan also advised to use your senses when baking. “You can almost smell ‘golden brown,’ ” she said.

Double Strawberry and Rose Shortcakes

Makes 24 shortcakes

For the rose petal decoration:

3 unsprayed roses

1 to 2 egg whites

Granulated sugar or store-bought candied rose petals

For the strawberry compote:

3/4 pound (about 3 cups) strawberries, hulled

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon pure rose extract

For the lemon-buttermilk biscuits:

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

3/4 cup cold buttermilk

For the whipped cream:

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon pure rose extract

1 tablespoon cold sour cream, optional

Red or pink food coloring

For the topping:

1/2 to 3/4 pound (about 2 to 3 cups) strawberries, hulled

Directions:

• To make the rose petal decoration: Several hours ahead or the day before, separate the rose petals, rinse them quickly in cold water and pat them dry. Put one egg white in a small bowl and whisk until it’s foamy. (You may or may not need the second white.) Put the sugar in another small bowl and place a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on the counter. One at a time, dip a petal into the white and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Drag the petal through the sugar to coat both sides very lightly. Dry the petals on the paper or mat in a cool, non-humid place for at least six hours or for as long as overnight.

• To make the strawberry compote: Coarsely chop the berries and toss them into a small saucepan with the sugar. Put the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, for five to eight minutes, or until the juices are slightly thickened and syrupy. Scrape the berries and syrup into a bowl, stir in the rose extract and cool to room temperature. (You can make the compote up to three days ahead and keep it covered in the refrigerator.)

• To make the biscuits:

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and, working with your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk to combine. Drop in the pieces of cold butter and, again using your fingertips, crush, rub and blend the butter in. Pour the cold buttermilk over the mixture, switch to a fork and toss and stir everything together until the milk is absorbed Don’t stir too much, too vigorously or for too long.Knead the dough gently, folding it over on itself and turning it over six to eight times.

3. Dust a work surface lightly with flour, turn out the dough and, still using your hands, pat the dough out until it is 1/2 inch thick. Using a high-sided 2-inch cutter, cut out biscuits and place them on the baking sheet. Pat the scraps together until they’re 1/2 inch thick and cut out as many more biscuits as you can.

4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen and their tops and bottoms are golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the biscuits to cool.

• To make the whipped cream: Working with an electric mixer, beat the cream just until it mounds softly. Still beating, add the sugar, followed by the vanilla and rose extracts. When the cream is whipped and holds firm peaks, quickly beat in the sour cream, if you’re using it. To tint the cream, beat in just one drop of coloring; continuing adding coloring a tiny drop at a time until you get the shade of pink you want.

• To make the topping: Just before you’re ready to put the shortcakes together, stand the berries up and, using a thin-bladed knife, cut each berry into four or five thin slices.

• To assemble the shortcakes:

1. If you’d like to pipe the whipped cream, either spoon the cream into a pastry bag fitted with an open star or plain tip, or spoon the cream into a zipper-lock plastic bag and snip off a corner. Alternatively, you can simply spoon on the cream.

2. Slice a thin layer off the top of the biscuit to create an even surface for piping the cream. Discard the tops. Put a teaspoonful of strawberry compote and syrup in the center of each biscuit. Pipe (or spoon) a circle of whipped cream around the compote, leaving a bit of compote uncovered. Finish each shortcake by pressing two or three slices of strawberry together, fanning them out a little and placing them, broad side down, in the center of each cake.

• To serve: Arrange the shortcakes on a platter. Scatter the rose petals around the platter and serve immediately.

Recipe by Dorie Greenspan

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