June is prime time for strawberries, and sure, I can’t resist getting them in the middle of January or when they first start populating grocery stores when spring comes around, but out of season they’re for the most part just tolerable. When finally in season, they’re perfectly delicate and juicy, begging to be devoured or turned into strawberry shortcake.
I wanted to work on a recipe that was quick, straightforward, and that used only a handful of ingredients. Jame Beard’s famous strawberry shortcake recipe has a secret ingredient: finely crumbled hard-boiled egg yolks. They’re supposed to enrich the dough without toughening it, contributing to a perfectly tender crumb. Although I haven’t tried this one yet, it does sound intriguing and phenomenal. For this recipe I wanted to get a dough just as tender and rich, but keeping it minimal: so no eggs. What if you don’t have any eggs on hand? That was the though process behind it.
a few tips
The dough comes together very quickly, and you can either use a food processor or do it by hand. I tend to make shortcut pastries by hand when I don’t want to bother getting out my food processor. In either case, make sure the butter is very cold. The cold butter is cut into the flour to create a pastry that’s more crumbly than stretchy. If doing by hand, work the butter quickly into the flour, using your fingertips to break the butter into pea-sized pieces. You don’t want the butter to start getting melty, but if you notice it getting too soft, add the bowl to the fridge for a few minutes until the butter solidifies.
Although there’s no eggs in the dough, there’s still a lot of fat from the butter and heavy cream, but you don’t want to overwork the dough anyway. Keep the kneading minimal as to avoid gluten formation – you want a tender shortcake. The dough might look too wet when you first add in the cream, but it’ll quickly come together once you start kneading.
basil infused whipped cream
Basil and strawberry taste like summer. A powerfully fragrant combo. By infusing the whipped cream you get a lovely hint of basil that goes beautifully with the rich strawberry jam. Homemade whipped cream is so good, specially when whipped into a flavorful, fragrant dessert.
You can infuse hot or cold. You can experiment by infusing both ways, but fresh ingredients like basil work really well in a cold infusion. Infusing it too long can bring unpleasant flavors in fresh herbs, so instead of focusing on infusing time, make sure to add more basil instead.
Coarsely chop or tear basil leaves. Stir with heavy cream, cover, and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. Strain the cream, pressing on the leaves to extract as much cream as possible. Discard the leaves. If you are not using the infusion immediately, cover and refrigerate it until needed.
No strawberries? Feel free to try other berries or stone fruit instead.
If you don’t like basil, fresh mint is a great substitute.
Homemade strawberry jam is super easy to make, but if you don’t feel like it, macerated strawberries taste fantastic. To macerate the strawberries simply stir together halved strawberries, about 1 tbsp lemon and 1 tbsp sugar in a bowl. Let stand at room temperature until juices are released.
Strawberry Shortcake with Basil Whipped Cream
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp sugar + 1 tbsp
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cold butter, cut into small cubes(½” pieces)
- 1 cup heavy cream + 1 tbsp
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 handful fresh basil
- 12 oz/ 350 strawberries, hulled and halved
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp sugar, more as needed
- 1/4 cup water
For the Basil Whipped Cream
For the Strawberry Jam
- Preheat oven to 400°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl to combine.
- Add butter and toss with dry ingredients until coated. Work butter into dry ingredients by pinching it until there are lots of flat shards and pea-sized bits remaining. Those small, uneven pieces of butter create steam pockets as the shortcakes bake, contributing to a tender, flaky end result.
- Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add heavy cream into well. Working with a rubber spatula, mix dough until large, shaggy clumps form.
- Knead once or twice (don’t over mix) until it forms a mass and most of the flour has been incorporated into the dough.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Pat to a 1″-thick square (it should be about 6×6″).
- Cut dough into 4 equal squares. Stack them all on top of each other, creating a tall tower of dough. Press down on stack with your hands, flattening dough back to a square. This stacking method is what will create lots of flaky layers.
- Pat to a rectangle about 1″ thick.
- Cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each of those 2 rectangles into 3 squares. Alternatively, use a round cookie cutter. Transfer squares to prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining heavy cream and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Freeze for about 15 minutes or 30 minutes in the fridge. (This will help ensure that the shortcakes rise—rather than spread out—in the oven.)
- Bake shortcakes until golden brown all over, 18–25 minutes.
- While shortcakes bake, make your strawberry jam. Combine the strawberries, sugar, vanilla, and water in a saucepan over medium head. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, until desired consistency. Set aside to cool.
- Make the whipped cream. Coarsely chop or tear basil leaves. In a small bowl, stir in heavy cream and basil. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. Strain the cream, pressing on the leaves to extract as much cream as possible. Discard the leaves. If you are not using the infusion immediately, cover and refrigerate it until needed.
- Pour infused heavy cream into a medium bowl. Vigorously whisk with your largest whisk, making figure-8 motions, until soft peaks form. This will take 3–5 minutes but don’t be discouraged if it takes longer. Alternatively, use an electric mixer and beat starting at low speed, gradually increasing to high as cream begins to thicken and soft peaks form.
- Let shortcakes cool at least 15 minutes. Gently split shortcakes in half with your hands or using a knife. Place bottom halves in serving bowls. Divide whipped cream and strawberry jam among bottom halves. Drizzle any syrupy juices left over. Close with top halves of shortcake.
Tips & Tricks: If using the cold method as explained above, remember to make the infused heavy cream ahead of time. It’ll take about 8 hours in the fridge.
If you make this Strawberry Shortcake with Basil Whipped Cream please be sure to leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you and I love responding to every comment. And don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram. I’d love to see your photos!