It’s strawberry time.
Locally grown berries are ripe for the picking and plenty of farms have opened their gates for pick-your-own. You can find a county-by-county list of pick-your-own farms in many states at www.pickyourown.org.
But if you don’t feel like trekking through the farms and searching for the perfect berries, there will be plenty to buy at local farmers’ markets.
And when you find these June rubies, there’s plenty to do with them: make jam, slice them on top of ice cream, dip them in chocolate, slice them into salads – the choices are endless. And of course, you can stick to the classics and whip up a strawberry shortcake.
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups unbleached all- purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold,unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons at room temperature
¾ cup buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the strawberries and toss them gently in a large bowl with the sugar. Set aside so they can give off some juice while you bake the biscuits.
To make the biscuits, sift together the flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut the 4 tablespoons of cold butter into chunks and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Add the buttermilk, mix until a soft dough forms and turn it out onto a well-floured work surface.
Divide the dough in half and roll it out into two circles about ½-inch thick. Brush one circle with the 2 tablespoons of softened butter and lay the other circle on top of it. Cut into 6 circles with a 2½-inch biscuit cutter and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. (You can reroll the scraps, but the resulting biscuits won’t be quite as tender.) Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until puffed and golden.
To make the sweetened cream, lightly whip the cream, the rest of the sugar and vanilla to soft peaks.
To serve, split the hot biscuits and heap the base with strawberries and sweetened cream. Top with the other half of each biscuit and spoon a little more strawberries and cream over each. Serves 6.
– From Diane St. Clair’s “The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook” ($27.99, Andrews McMeel)