In my defense, the recipe is from my Momofuku cookbook, and those recipes can be straight up fussy. Like, make an enormous cake, take a tablespoon of it and throw the rest away, then layer it with five other different cake batters and baste it for thirty hours and then store in an ice bath and then grill briefly before throwing it all away and serving the remaining crumbs or something. They are also recipes deeply ingrained with amazing technique, respect for tradition, playfulness, inventiveness, and deliciousness. I just often find that like haircuts, they’re better done by someone else. These shortcakes are one of the more simple recipes in the book, and I know exactly where I went wrong – I got impatient and added too much liquid, when I should’ve just let it be and allow the dough to absorb all it needed while it was resting. The result being, the shortcakes spread out hugely, making one large nebulous mass. At first I wanted to fling kitchen appliances into a ravine with frustration, but then I looked at them again and figured I could salvage them easily enough. So here we are.
By the way, my limited understanding is that shortcakes are supposed to be sort-of cakelike and sort-of scone-shaped, small and puffy, and delicately smooshed around whatever filling you like. Comparatively, my shortcakes are kind of longcakes, but they still taste good when sandwiched around thick plain yoghurt and strawberries that have been saucily sitting in icing sugar. And I have no doubt that if you just pay more attention than me, they’ll turn out perfectly. But isn’t it comforting to know that even hastily screwing them up still more or less works? To the point where I maybe haven’t learned a lesson about the importance of methodically thinking things through at all?
strawberry shortcakes, potentially not-so-short though.
Adapted just barely from the Momofuku cookbook.
1 large egg
just under 1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
125g butter, cold, cubed
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I used coconut oil)
1/2 cup icing sugar, for dusting
Okay, bear with me: crack the egg into a half cup measuring cup. Stir it so that the white and yolk are thoroughly incorporated, then remove about a tablespoon of this egg, throw it in the sink or whatever, and pour cream into this measuring cup till it’s full. It just is what it is, okay?
Luckily the next bit is easy. Stir together all the dry ingredients, then add the butter and shortening and use your fingers to rub it all into the flour, or alternatively pulse it in a food processor for a bit or use a cake mixer if you’ve got one. Going by hand is simple enough, as you only need to get the fat more or less into the flour and sugar – you can stop once it’s looking gravelly and rubbly with lots of pea-sized bits of butter and shortening. Tip in the egg-cream mixture and stir to bring it together, mixing it as briefly and as little as possible. Leave to sit for ten minutes. Don’t be tempted to add more liquid, it will all come together as it sits.
Use a spoon to scoop out dough and form into rough ball shapes – about two tablespoons or so per shortcake – which should make around eight to ten, then refrigerate them for at least half an hour but you could leave them overnight if you like. Then, bake at 180 C/350 F for about 15 minutes on two different trays or in batches, because they need room to spread.
Allow to cool, then do what you like with them. I sandwiched pairs together with really thick plain yoghurt and frozen strawberries that had been defrosting in a pile of icing sugar.
Buttery, tender, cakey yet cookie-esque, crumbling into cold yoghurt and absorbing sweet red strawberries. These are amazing. Who knows, maybe they would’ve been too good if they’d actually worked out how they were supposed to? I know it’s pretty much winter now and strawberries are completely out of season, but I wanted Strawberry Shortcake and frozen berries are pretty cheap and there’s just something about that lemonade-sweet berry against the tender shortcakes that is rather magic.
I mean, you could use any fruit you want, and whipped cream instead of yoghurt, but this particular combination is a plateful of sunshine on a cold rainy day. (Side note: it has been very cold and rainy lately.)
Last time I wrote here, it was the day before my birthday and also my final day at my then-job. I had a more wonderful and happy birthday than I dared hope, to be honest, it was just nonstop lovely. I am still looking for a job (hi!) but cannot fling my arms wide open enough to express how much more mellow and unstressed and happy I am to be wilfully unemployed right now. I spent the last week doing some Hard Relaxing, and am now ready to actually blog as much as I initially insisted I would.
Other than that, I have been knitting, getting a small crescent moon tattoo on my shin, home-dying my eyebrows, working on being businesslike with my new freedom, organising sponsors for this blog, trying to be as kind and full of love to myself as possible, inventing new recipes, and getting used to being 28 (especially considering last year for about six months I thought I already was 28? Maths, hey!)
title from: Blackstreet, No Diggity. I’m cool that Pitch Perfect got people saying “oh wow that’s right that song was amazing” because for the first time since 1996 I hear this song allllll the time and couldn’t be happier.
Uffie, Hot Chick. Obnoxious as hell stuff that I was really into in 2006/2007 and damn it, I still am. But also she released this truly amazing song called Difficult a few years later that I’ve been listening to a lot too.
Eartha Kitt, I Wanna Be Evil. Was there ever a better title? Her voice is so fascinating and gorgeous and every fraction of every movement she did, every flicker of her face or flourish of her hands was so full of power too.
Janine and the Mixtape, Hold Me. Have been pretty obsessed with this dreamy song since I first heard it, but especially right now, and there’s a new music video for it, so…yay!
next time: a recipe that I can actually make, what with me being a food blogger and cookbook author and all, yeah?