Nothing says summer like strawberry shortcake for dessert! I grew up eating those little sponge cakes you buy at the store with cool whip but over the years I've developed a completely homemade strawberry shortcake recipe that I absolutely adore. It's super easy and well worth the tiny bit of extra effort over store brought. My recipe below makes enough for about 8 servings.
3 baskets of fresh, ripe strawberries
2 tsp. sugar
Quarter strawberries into a medium sized bowl...if they're larger strawberries cut into sixths or eighths. Sprinkle with sugar, stir, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is called macerating...the sugar softens the berries and pulls the juices out of the berries so that you get a nice natural sauce along with your berries.
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
4 tsp. baking powder
4-6 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. shortening 1/4 c. butter (cold & cut into small pieces)
2/3 c. milk
Now that the berries are macerating it's time to get the shortcakes made. Sift dry ingredients together and then cut in shortening & butter (you can also just use all butter or all shortening if you want but I like the mix) until the texture is like coarse crumbs. Add milk and stir until just mixed.
Form with hands to make rough biscuit-shaped discs or mounds about 3/4 inch thick (they won't change shape while baking at all...so I tend to leave mine a bit more lumpy & rustic).
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
½ pint of heavy whipping cream
2-4 TBS sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
Heavy dash of cinnamon
Last, it's time to make the whipped cream. Pour whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) and turn on medium. Whip for 1-3 minutes, or until the cream starts to thicken slightly. Add sugar 1 TBS at a time while continuing to whip, tasting along the way...we tend to like it only slightly sweet. Once the sweetness is to your liking, add a heavy dash of cinnamon.
The trick with making your own whipped cream is to know when to stop whipping...so keep a close eye on it so you don't over-whip. You want a stiff consistency so that when you pull the whisk out there are clear edges from where the whisk was, but the cream is still smooth. If it has started to look lumpy you have whisked too much...still usable, but not ideal. If you have any of the fresh whipping cream left over pour some into the whipped cream and gently fold it with a spatula to get it back to the appropriate consistency. If it has reached the stage where it is lumpy and grainy then it has started to turn into butter...unfortunately you'll have to start over (this is really over-whipping though so it's pretty rare as long as you're attentive). Once you make this, you'll never go back to cool whip or ready-whip...I promise!
Time to Eat!
Now it's time to put it all together. Split a shortcake in half (or crumble it up), spoon over lots of strawberries and then top with a big dollop of whipped cream. Add a few more strawberries and top with the rest of the shortcake. Dig in and enjoy...summer dessert at it's best!