Twice as Tasty

Strawberry Shortcake

Infusing sugar and cream with lilacs is simple; it just takes fresh blossoms and time

By Julie Laing
Strawberry Shortcake. Photo by Julie Laing

In June 2016, I launched TwiceAsTasty.com. Every year since, I’ve celebrated the blog’s growth and ongoing success with a birthday dessert. The recipe from the blog’s first birthday is still one of my favorites and so appropriate for the season: strawberry shortcake.

I’ve streamlined the recipe here to use ripe berries, home-baked shortcake and freshly whipped cream. It’s straightforward, delicious and ready in less than an hour. If you plan ahead and have access to blooming lilacs, you can boost the flavor like I did in the original recipe by topping the shortcake with lilac-infused cream.

Infusing sugar and cream with lilacs is simple; it just takes fresh blossoms and time. For the infused sugar, you’ll need to let a cluster’s worth of lilac blossoms sit buried in granulated sugar for at least two weeks. The infused cream needs two to three blossom clusters per cup of heavy cream and several hours to infuse. For maximum flavor, use the lilac-infused sugar when whipping the cream. Check TwiceAsTasty.com later this week for more detailed instructions on lilac infusions. 

Strawberry Shortcake with Freshly Whipped Cream

Serves 8–10

1-1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced if large

Zest and juice of 1/4 medium orange

5–6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons cold butter

3/4 cup half and half

2 tablespoons plus 1 cup cold heavy cream, divided

1 tablespoon powdered milk

Put a large bowl and any whisk attachments in the refrigerator. In another wide, shallow bowl, toss the strawberries with the orange juice and 3 tablespoons of sugar; leave at room temperature to macerate, drawing out the juices.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar; stir in the orange zest. Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch cubes, add it to the flour mixture and then use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour, pressing it into flat chips coated with flour and then coarse crumbs. Gradually add the half-and-half and 2 tablespoons of cream, mixing just until the crumbs form a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a half-dozen times, just until the dough holds together. With your hands, press the dough to a 1/2-inch-thick disc. Using a 2-1/2-inch biscuit cutter or a large drinking glass, cut out circles of shortcake. Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet at 450°F for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden.

Remove the chilled tools from the fridge. Pour the cream into the bowl, and add the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar and the powdered milk. Whip on medium-high speed for two to five minutes, until the cream forms firm, but not stiff, peaks.

Cool the shortcake slightly on a wire rack, and then split it horizontally. Place the bottom halves on plates, top with strawberries, cover with the shortcake tops and garnish with whipped cream.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.