Strawberry Short Cake
In 1932 the ladies of Berkshire WI may well have had American members, as two recipes appear in the pages of their cookery book, From Hand to Mouth, that use US-style cup measures. Maybe an American heiress had married into English aristocracy, or travelled 'across the pond’ on one of the number of newly built luxury ocean liners that regularly made the crossing. Strawberry Short Cake made with ‘soda biscuits’,or what we might recognise here as scones, has many references in American recipe books of the mid-1800s, when parties were held to celebrate the strawberry season. Maybe one of the Berkshire WI members attended one and brought the recipe home. Our updated recipe makes eight individual shortcakes or one large one. The cakes freeze well so can be made in advance and reheated gently. We’ve left out buttering the warm shortcakes but you can do so if you like.
- 325g plain ﬂour, plus extra for dusting
- 3tsp baking powder
- large pinch of salt
- 100g chilled unsalted butter, diced
- 3tbsp caster sugar
- 1 large free-range egg
- 125ml full-fat milk
- For the ﬁlling:
- 300g fresh strawberries, hulled
- 1–2tbsp caster sugar
- 250ml double cream, whipped
1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/ fan oven200°C/ gas mark 7. Sift the ﬂour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Whisk the egg with the milk, and pour into the ﬂour mixture a little at a time, using a ﬂat-bladed knife to mix. Bring together to form a soft dough.
2 Turn the dough out onto a lightly ﬂoured work surface and roll out gently to a thickness of about 2cm. Lightly ﬂour a 6cm round cutter, and cut out as many rounds as you can. Reroll the scraps and cut out more rounds so that you have eight in total. Place well apart on a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with milk. Bake for 12–15 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
3 While the short cakes are cooking, crush half the strawberries with the sugar, and slice the remaining strawberries, depending on their size. Split the warm short cakes and top one half with a spoonful of the crushed strawberry mixture and a few sliced strawberries. Spread the top half with whipped cream. Replace the top and serve.