Sunday, June 6, 2010

Red, White and Blueberry Shortcake Stack

You don't need a patriotic holiday to eat this desert but it is definitely a summer-time treat.  Though you can use any combination of fruit you like, the combination of strawberries and blueberries both looks and tastes delicious.  This is not an original concept but this dish is one of our favorites.

For the biscuits
4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. shortening
1 3/4 c. milk
Demerara or turbinado sugar

1 lb. fresh strawberries
1 lb. fresh blueberries
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. granulated sugar

2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. real vanilla extract

The Method
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Place berries in a colander and rinse thoroughly.  Hull and slice strawberries and place in medium mixing bowl along with blueberries, granulated sugar and lemon juice.  Lightly toss fruit mixture then cover and refrigerate. 

In a separate mixing bowl, add all dry biscuit ingredients and stir to combine.  Add shortening and cut in until crumbly.  Add milk and mix together until dough is as soft as  you can handle.  Lightly flour clean countertop and lightly knead dough (15-20 times) and roll out dough to 1 inch thickness.  Cut out biscuits with 3-4 inch cutter.  Sprinkle biscuits with demerara or turbinado sugar.  Lay biscuits out one against another on baking sheet, place in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Whip heavy cream in a separate bowl, and add powdered sugar and vanilla extract just as cream begins to stiffen.  Continue to whip until stiff. 

Plate biscuits by slicing biscuits into top and bottom halves.  Top each bottom half with whipped cream and fruit, add biscuit top and repeat.  Finish each biscuit by sprinking with an additional teaspoon of raw sugar.   

Food for Thought
Demerara sugar can be purchased in the bulk foods section at Winco and similar stores.  You can find turbinado (Hawaiian source) sugar in a small box on your baking aisle.  These products form unrefined, brown, coarse granules derived from sugar cane.  They offer a bit more depth of flavor than white granulated sugar as well as a sublte textural element.

This is your basic baking powder biscuit recipe minus a bit of flour with the addition of powdered sugar.  Knowing that these biscuits were to be used in a desert application, my wife took her usual recipe and added the powdered sugar to give them a little more sweetness and, as she hypothesized, to make them lighter and fluffier.  They were beautiful golden cylinders of light, tender, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  This desert is not really that time or labor intensive but yields a great payoff in terms of 'wow-factor' for presentation and taste.  This really is summer on a desert plate.  Bring this to your next family get together and you'll be loved and hated at the same time; loved for bringing something so delicious and hated for showing off with such a beautiful and tasty treat.

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