Shortcake is a study in simplicity. It is not pretentious, although mine is layered with local strawberries and florals of orchid, elderflower, and lavender. Little chef told me it was gaudy. Big chef told me it was delicious. Not wanting to take a risk, I switched from chantilly cream to clotted cream. Clotted cream cannot be whipped or it breaks it down. I imagine that it was originally created by simply leaving it out in the sun. It clots, separates, and then gently thickens. It has a magick in it’s plainness. Never overstated. It reminds me of a farmer’s life. I envision my farmhouse kitchen with jars of clotted cream and fresh bread made from a sourdough starter that gets fed each day. Life should be about such easy pleasures. It works best with unpasteurized cream which may be why we don’t have it here in the states. Or perhaps it has fallen out of fashion, like mincemeat pie. Still, anyone can make it and I suggest they do. Simply take cream and put it in the oven at 200 degrees overnight. It may take 6 hours but there is no stirring or fiddling around. Pull out of the oven when it is loose and thick at the same time. It will be beginning to move as one. Pull off any skin and chill. Then you are done. Do not whisk it. It is the nature of clotted cream to separate into clots.
I believe that this dish: Strawberry Shortcake, with florals and clotted cream is a reminder not to overanalyse things. It is a visceral way of cooking that requires love and attention but is not a haughty, technique driven item. If someone made this for me, I would know they loved me. Even if I ordered it at a restaurant. I want to make it for myself and my family with strawberries from my garden. That is what time gives.
Shortcake Recipe 6 cups flour 3 Tbsp baking powder ¾ t baking soda 1 ½ tsp salt 12 oz butter 2 cups buttermilk 6 egg yolks zest of 1 lemon 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp lemon extract 1 tsp ground nutmeg Cut flour into butter with baking powder, soda, and salt, zest, and nutmeg. Take all the way down until it looks like course cornmeal and there are no visible butter chunks. This can be done in a small stand mixer or by hand with a pastry cutter. Add Buttermilk, yolks, and vanilla. Do not overmix. Knead and press into 2 oiled loaf pans, or pyrex. Fill just over halfway. It will rise a lot! Brush heavily with cream and top with sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until stake comes out clean. Be sure to thoroughly soak your shortcake with juice from the macerated berries. mmmm!
Categories: Baking and Pastry