Recipes: Then and Now

Recipes from the past updated for today

Post #1 Strawberry Shortcake

April 1, 2014

I have always believed one can never have too many recipes. I am always on the look-out for another new one to add to my collection. Most cooks are. Not many of these new recipes actually get used but I think to myself ‘someday I may want to try this’. So I save it. The ones I do try, I always seem to tinker with; to make it just what I want it to be. Or I will simply use the recipe as a starting point and the final result will be nothing like the original. Still other recipes are old family heirlooms or treasures from an old cookbook. These I try not to mess with too much. I willingly change them only when an ingredient is no longer available or the measurements need modernizing.

Since ‘Recipes: Then & Now’ is about the past as well as the present, I thought it would be fun to write about some of my old cherished recipes. They have been updated only enough to make them a realistic option for the modern cook. So, with this thought in mind I will attempt to write about some of my all time favorite old recipes. The ones I turn to the most. I hope you will send to me any you think I might like to try, especially if they are a longtime family favorite of yours.

With spring getting into full swing and with the strawberries soon to be in season, let’s start with good old fashioned strawberry shortcake. Most people today are more familiar with the little round sponge cakes sold near the fresh berries in the produce section of any supermarket. This is not what Grandma would call shortcake. Nor would she have used the aerosol ‘whipped cream’ to top her dessert. Try the following and step back in time. See if Grandma might have had the better strawberry shortcake.

Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons cold butter

1 cup milk

2 pints fresh strawberries

Sugar to sweeten the berries

1 cup whipping cream

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender till it is the size of small peas. Add milk and stir till dough forms a ball then knead a few times. On a lightly greased cookie sheet pat the dough out to ½ inches thick and about 8 inches around. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool and split in to two layers like you would to butter a biscuit. While the shortcake is baking, slice the strawberries into a bowl and stir in sugar to sweeten to your liking. Let them sit just long enough to get the berries nice and juicy. The whipped cream should be very cold so I pour it into a bowl and set it into the freezer along with the beaters for several minutes to get well chilled. Beat until foamy and sift in the 3 tablespoons powdered sugar as you continue to beat. Add ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat till it will just hold a peak when the beaters are pulled out. Now place the sweetened berries and some whipped cream over the bottom layer of shortcake. Top with the second layer and pour over the rest of the berries and garnish with more whipped cream. Cut like a cake into individual servings, about 8.

Grandma would have used whipped cream that was beaten only stiff enough to just hold a peak. She also would not have left the shortcake to cool. It would have been split and buttered then layered while still warm. These may also be cut with a biscuit cutter to make individual servings. For a more modern version try vanilla sugar to sweeten the berries and whipped cream.