Do you want to know how ready I am for Summer? I bought a one piece, long-sleeve (yup) bathing suit like… 2 months ago. It was on a whim, on a cloudy day, on a day I thought that a long sleeve bathing suit would definitely have me looking super Charlie’s Angels on the beach come Summer. It came in the mail a few days after I ordered it and I thought…. YES, I’m ready for this…. I’m totally ok with this life choice. This is what separates the women from the girls (not true). It’s chic and I don’t have to put sunscreen on my back (at least that last part is accurate).
So I’m ready (or delusional). Please tweet me your pool party invitations. I’ll take them to heart and bring my bathing suit. Did I mention that it has sleeves?
This is the fourth time in a few months I’ve tumbled strawberries out of their plastic clamshell and onto the countertop in my new house.
It’s a prelude to summer christening and now that the bathing suit situation is solved, I show no signs of stopping.
Basil is a surprising and really lovely compliment to strawberries. It’s delicate in its herbaceous quality, but distinct enough to stand up to sweet strawberry. Where strawberries can be predictable and sometimes cloying, basil (in the form of whipped cream here) adds an unexpected and balancing note. Basically, we’re geniuses… and by ‘we’ I mean, my man-friend who texted me this idea from a restaurant in Philly and I ran with it. To bring this all full circle, he has no idea why a woman would buy a bathing suit in early March and is highly skeptical of swimwear with sleeves. At least I can bake.
You know when you can’t finagle the cutting board you want from precarious pile of other cutting boards, sheet pans, and tupperware lids? Well… just grab a plate to slice and hull the strawberries. It’s exactly like perfectionist rocket science in my kitchen. You’re probably much more organized and I salute you.
Strawberry shortcakes are usually served with fresh strawberries but we’re different. We’re roasting our strawberries with sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar to deepen their flavor and impress our tastebuds.
Trick is: cover a rimmed sheet pan completely with foil to catch the juices as the fruit roasts. That is delicious and it’s going on our shortcakes!
There are two different ways to make infused whipped creams. Cold infusions, done over time in the refrigerator with fresh, delicate herbs. Hot infusions, done in a saucepan with simmering cream, add-ins, and steeping. Either works for this basil-infused whipped cream. If you’re simmering your cream, just be sure to steep the basil and then remove so it doesn’t get weirdly bitter.
We’re making sweet biscuits.
Buttery, buttermilky, flakey and soft. It all starts with cold butter. Don’t act like I haven’t wrangled you into making biscuits before.
Cold butter bits are broken down into flour, sugar, and leavening creating a crumbly mixture ready for buttermilk and egg yolk.
The wet ingredients combine with the dry to make a shaggy, imperfect, still-chilled and ready for shaping dough.
This is a small batch of shortcake dough, making just six round biscuits. Butter marbling is encouraged and preferred.
The biscuits are brushed with extra buttermilk and baked until irresistibly fluffy and golden brown. Your nose will tell you when they’re about perfect. They smell dang delicious from the oven.
While the biscuits bake, whip up the infused cream (basil removed, of course) with sweetener and vanilla. A whisk if you’re looking for an arm work out (I’m thinking about my swimsuit here). Electric hand beaters if not. Keep the cream soft and loose. You’ll want it ‘soupy sexy’ which is a culinary term I just coined and I’m sure someone will be knocking on my door shortly to take away my Official Food Writer Identification Card. Little do they know I never had one to begin with, so joke is on them, really.
These are our parts. Let’s continue.
Here’s the hard part: getting the warm biscuits, roasted strawberries, and sweet basil cream aaallll together before eating up all the delicious parts separately. Trust that they are better together. Quickly spoon together. Quickly manuever towards face.
Juicy, concentrated, surprising, and irresistible. All words to describe our take on strawberry shortcakes and… I’ll leave the bathing suit joke to you and your imagination.
Here we are friends, on the brink of delicious Summer success.
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
- scant 1/2 cup cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
- To make the cream, in a small saucepan heat the cream over medium heat to just simmering. Remove from heat, lightly tear the basil leaves into the heated cream. Stir, cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the basil leaves, cover the cream, and chill in the refrigerator until chilled through, at least 1 hour.
- When the cream is chilled, pour into a large bowl. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Beat with a pair of electric hand beaters until just firm. Keep cool until ready to serve.
- To make the strawberries, place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil so that the foil extends over the sides to catch any juices that accumulate during baking. Place sliced strawberries on the baking sheet. Add strawberries, salt, and vinegar and toss to coat. Place in the oven and roasted until softened through and bubbling, about 15 to 20 minutes. Tossing once during baking. Remove from the over and allow to cool.
- To make the biscuits, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingers, quickly work the butter into the dry ingredients until some bits of butter are the size of oat flakes, some the size of small peas. Chunks of cold butter is what we want in our dough.
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine egg yolk and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork.
- Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg mixture all at once. Stir into a shaggy mixture. The dough will be moist, but not overly wet.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to a 3/4-inch thickness. Use a 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut biscuit, re-rolling and pressing the dough to cut 6 biscuits total.
- Place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and brush lightly with buttermilk.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Allow to cool to a warm room temperature. Slice in half. Top with strawberries and cream, a small fresh basil leaf and the top biscuit. Enjoy!