Saturday, July 7, 2012

what a ways

For better or worse, I've come a long way.  It was around this time last year, when I was visiting friends and family in New York, that I decided to start this blog.  I decided to start at the top, with what I still think is the best thing I've ever tasted.

Strawberry Shortcake.

It was a disaster. My biscuits were neither fluffy, nor sweet, and my whipped cream was not as much creamy as it was milky.  Despite it all, I was off on a mission to bake and write my way through my 23rd year, and here I am about to be 24 and making strawberry shortcake with less than ideal results yet again.

So even though shortcake biscuits appear to be my baking nemesis, I can safely say I've come a long way. As with any amount of passing time, one hopes to get wiser and achieve some sense of heightened clarity. I am none of those things, but I am dorkier, more adventurous, and even more than ever a lover of sweets.

A quote I stumbled across a long time ago, and one that has stuck with me as I feel it speaks to life in a larger more metaphorical way,  refers to strawberry shortcake in its most perfect (or not so perfect) form.  James Beard once said, "There can be no dessert better, only fancier."

And so, while it wasn't that long ago that that sight of a hard boiled, or any kind of cooked or uncooked egg yolk would have sent me running for the door- I took the masters advice and boiled and peeled, pressed and scrapped yolks into my biscuit batter. And someday I'll get it, really get it, and until then I'll keep trying... 

It was good. I promise it was good. Just not as good as his. They were not fluffy, and somehow despite the recipes promise that it was impossible to overwork this dough- I did it anyway.  Then I pressed it out too thin and made slightly overdone shortbread cookies.

I am probably being to hard on myself, because afterall there is still no better dessert I can think of, only fancier, and in the case of my version- a lot fancier.

As much as I love Seattle, there is something about the 4th of July, summer, and my upcoming birthday that makes me miss the East Coast just a bit. So in the spirit of America, birthdays, home, and growing up- lets all eat shortcake.

James Beard Strawberry Short Cake
from Food52

2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soda
6 tablespoons butter (chilled and cubed).
2 hard boiled egg yolks (pressed through a micro strainer)
3/4 cup cream

Whisk together flour, sugar, and powder.  Add in butter, working it into the dough with fingers or pastry cutter.  Add in yolks, stir.  Fold in cream and mix until just combined. Chill. Press out into 1.5 inch thick rounds and cut into circles. Paint with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar (I used maple sugar). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Let cool.

For the strawberries: 
Wash and cut strawberries into halves or quarters.  Place into glass bowl with a squeeze of lemon and sugar.

For the cream: 
Whip 1 quarte of heavy whipping cream with about 1/4 cup sugar.

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