Light as a cloud and not-too-sweet, these buttery, homemade strawberry shortcakes are a treat to make! I use sweet local strawberries and vanilla sugar for extra flavor.
In The Cook’s Atelier, you’ll find a beautiful collection of seasonal French recipes from two American expats (mother & daughter) who sold everything, moved abroad and opened up a cooking school in the charming village of Beaune, France… without a plan!
I have a penchant for stories like this. I also have a penchant for strawberry desserts. This strawberry shortcake cake recipe from their book uses fresh local berries, clouds of whipped cream and easy-to-make buttery biscuits topped with homemade vanilla sugar. They are light, crumbly and absolutely scrumptious!
Ingredients You Will Need:
- All purpose flour
- Granulated sugar (I use vanilla sugar)
- Baking powder
- Fine sea salt
- Unsalted butter
- Lemon zest, juice reserved
- Heavy cream
- Strawberry jam (I use Bonne Maman)
- Ripe strawberries
- Powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
How to Make Strawberry Shortcakes
At a glance: make the biscuit dough, marinate the strawberries, make fresh whipped cream and then bake and assemble. I usually bake the shortcakes in the morning and assemble them later on, right before serving. The berries and whipped cream can be prepped ahead too.
Make The Biscuit Dough
- In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt). Add the cubed butter and lemon zest; rub it in with your fingertips. The mixture will look like coarse meal.
- Add some of the heavy cream, a little bit at a time, and mix with a fork. You may not use all of it. Finish mixing by hand to form a soft dough.
- Roll the dough to about 1 -inch thick. Size is important here. If the dough is too thin, the shortcakes will be thin.
- Cut the dough using a 3-inch round pastry cutter or use the rim of a drinking glass (pictured above). Whatever tool you choose, be sure not to push down and twist the dough when cutting into rounds; the shortcakes won’t rise as high.
- Chill the biscuits for about 1 hour. Use this time to marinate the strawberries and the whipped cream.
TIP: The entire dough making process is done by hand. However, a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment will work too. In my experience, if your kitchen is really hot (and you don’t want the butter to melt from the heat of your hands) a stand mixer will get the job done quickly and efficiently.
Marinate the Strawberries
- Add halved strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Mix to combine. I like using homemade vanilla sugar for extra flavor. If you do not have vanilla sugar, substitute with a fresh vanilla bean, vanilla paste or a tiny splash of vanilla extract. I order my vanilla beans here.
- Wrap and chill the strawberries for up to 1 hour only. The longer the berries sit, the softer and mushier they will become. Mixing berries with sugar intensifies their natural sweetness and draws out the juice. Choose the best, sweetest berries you can find. Mine are from my local CSA, Golden Earthworm Organic Farm.
TIP: I do not use the residual strawberry juice for these shortcakes, like some recipes. It makes the biscuits too soggy. Instead, I spread the base of each biscuit with quality strawberry jam (I like Bonne Maman), and reserve the juice for strawberry margaritas or to mix with club soda and lemonade. So good!
Make Fresh Whipped Cream
- Combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until soft peaks form.
- Wrap and chill until ready use.
TIP: Making your own whipped cream only takes a few minutes. Plus, you can control the total amount of sugar which is not the case when opting for store-bought whipped cream.
Bake & assemble the shortcakes
- Preheat your oven to 425 F (220 C).
- Brush the top of each shortcake with a small amount of heavy cream.
- Sprinkle with vanilla sugar or regular granulated sugar.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
- To assemble: Slice each shortcake in half horizontally. Spread the bottom flat side with a layer of strawberry jam. Top with a spoonful of strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Place another shortcake on top and then do another layer of whipped cream and berries. Or, leave the tops plain and dust with powdered sugar.
Light as a cloud and not-too-sweet, these buttery, homemade strawberry shortcakes are delicious to make. I like using fresh local strawberries and vanilla sugar for extra flavor (my secret ingredient!). Recipe adapted from The Cook’s Atelier cookbook.
For the Shortcakes
- 3 cups (375 g) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/3 cup (65 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/170 g) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest, juice reserved
- 3/4– 1 cup (180– 240 ml) heavy cream, plus more as needed (*see tips below)
- 1 cup (240 ml) strawberry jam (I use Bonne Maman)
For the Strawberries
- 1 pound (455 g) ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
- 3 tbsp. granulated sugar (I use homemade vanilla sugar)
- 1 tbsp. reserved fresh lemon juice
For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. powdered sugar, plus more for dusting (optional)
- Flour is like a sponge. I found that less than 200 ml of heavy cream was needed to form a soft dough with my specific brand of all purpose flour (I also weighed my ingredients). For best results, I’d suggest starting with the smaller amount of cream first, adding more as needed.
- You will need a 3-inch round pastry cutter or the rim of an appropriate size drinking glass.
- Instead of vanilla sugar, use a vanilla bean, vanilla paste, or a tiny splash of pure vanilla extract
Make the Dough: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With your fingertips, mix the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse meal. Add the lemon zest. Drizzle some of the the heavy cream over the dough using a fork to combine. Add more cream as needed. Finish mixing by hand to form a soft ball of dough. Note: you can also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for mixing.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to no less than a 1-inch thick. If it’s rolled out too thin, you’ll get thin shortcakes (use a ruler to double check). Cut the dough into rounds using a 3-inch pastry cutter or the rim of an appropriate size drinking glass. Press together the remaining dough scraps, roll out again to the same thickness, and cut into more rounds. You should end up with 7 rounds. If not, check the size of the your pastry cutter. Place onto the lined baking sheet. Wrap and chill for 1 hr.
Make the Strawberries: Combine the strawberries, vanilla sugar (if using) and lemon juice in a bowl. Mix to combine. Wrap and chill for up to 1 hour only. The longer the berries sit, the softer and mushier they will become.
Make the Whipped Cream: Combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Process until soft peaks form. Wrap and chill until ready use.
Bake the Shortcakes: Preheat your oven to 425 F (220 C). Brush the top of each shortcake with a small amount of heavy cream. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar or regular granulated sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
To Serve: Slice each shortcake in half horizontally. Spread the flat bottom side with a layer of strawberry jam. Top with some of the strawberries, reserving the juice in the bowl for another use (see note below). Add a dollop of whipped cream. Place another shortcake on top and repeat with another layer of cream and a few more strawberries, or leave plain and dust with powdered sugar. Serve right away.
I do not use the residual strawberry juice for this recipe; it makes the shortcakes too soggy. Save it with any extra berries for cocktails or to mix with club soda and lemonade. Delicious!
Keywords: strawberry shortcake, easy strawberry shortcake recipe, simple strawberry shortcake, strawberry desserts, The Cooks Atelier, vanilla sugar, CSA recipes