It’s officially Spring. I went on a walk yesterday, I have a few new sundresses, allergies are making me wish that my head was removable, and I am planning my egg-dying color scheme for this year.
I’ve been daydreaming about baked ham, my mama’s peanut butter eggs, and egg-hunting more than ever over the past few weeks, as that winsome seductress, Spring, has slowly made her arrival. I was even tempted to buy a package of marshmallow peeps the other day, and then I reminded myself how much I hate those things and walked away with only a tiny bit of regret.
Shortcakes, perhaps more than any other dessert, heralds the coming of Spring. The markets are once again filled with bright berries and, as we sit on the brink of one of the sweetest holidays, it seems like the perfect time to revisit this homey treat -- with a bit of a twist, of course.
Growing up, strawberry shortcake was much beloved by my family. It meant spongy, oily, store-bought cakes, sugar-coated strawberries, and, though I cringe to say it - CoolWhip.
Though I was never deprived of home-baked treats as a child, my family did not mind taking a few shortcuts now and then.
These days, I've exchanged store-bought cakes with homemade, and CoolWhip is permanently banned from my refrigerator, but shortcakes covered in berries and cream have not lost one ounce of their charm.
These particular shortcakes have a marvelous texture, due to the addition of cornmeal and poppy seeds.
You may have noticed my love for poppy seeds. I use them A LOT. It's probably because I'm a total texture-addict. My mom and I have a habit of dumping cereal atop our bowls of ice cream just because we cannot stand to have creamy without a bit of crunchy. Weird?
Well my grandfather eats his ice cream with cheese crackers, just to put things in perspective.
A generous dose of heavy cream and butter make these cakes rich and buttery -- the perfect compliment to fresh, acidic berries and airy cream.
Shortcakes are imperfect, it's part of their charm. The dough is shaggy, the rounds may be a little lopsided -- that is all okay.
The most important thing to remember is not to overwork your dough. Do not try to make it perfectly smooth, as that will just result in a dense, tough cake.
Before they meet the oven, these tiny cakes are brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sugar.
Turbinado sugar would be an excellent choice, but if you somehow misplaced yours like I did, granulated sugar will do the job.
Oh yes, these shortcakes have raspberry inside them too! I really love raspberries.
While the shortcakes are baking, the rest of our raspberries are macerating in sugar and lemon juice. Maceration is your friend. It helps berries create their own natural syrup.
Cream is portioned, berries are heaped, and it's almost time for dessert.
Spring tastes delicious.
If you, like me, are still figuring out your weekend brunch menu, this would be a really, really good choice.
Raspberry Poppyseed & Cornmeal Shortcakes
makes 12 / recipe adapted from Bon Appetite
for the raspberries
- 2 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
Place raspberries in a large bowl and drizzle with lemon juice and sugar. Toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to use.
for the shortcakes
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar + extra for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, salt, flour, and cornmeal; whisk to combine.
Add butter and use a pastry cutter or the tips of your fingers to work it into the flour mixture, forming pea-sized pieces.
Add heavy cream and poppy seeds and use a large spoon to combine. Gently fold the flour into the cream, forming a rough dough. Fold in fresh raspberries, working gently so as not to crush the berries.
Turn the dough out unto a floured surface and gently shape into a disc about 1-inch in thickness. Sprinkle the top of the disc lightly with flour.
Use a biscuit cutter to cut 3-inch rounds of dough. Place rounds 1-inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
In a small bowl, whisk to combine egg with one teaspoon water.
Brush the top of each shortcake round with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Place the shortcakes on cooling racks and allow to cool fully before serving. At this point, shortcakes can be stored in airtight containers for several days.
for the cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup confectioner’ s sugar
In a large bowl, combine heavy cream with confectioner’s sugar. Use a hand mixer to beat the cream on high speed until soft peaks form.
Place one shortcake in a small dish and cover with a spoonful of cream and a heaping spoonful of macerated raspberries. Serve immediately. Enjoy!