Peach & Strawberry Shortcakes from Jessie Sheehan

Shortcakes with fresh fruit are one of summer’s most perfect desserts, and if you substitute blueberries for the peaches called for in this recipe, you’ve nailed July 4th’s sweet treat. The assembly of these shortcakes is unusual: to ensure a tall shortcake, that splits easily in half, two shorter cakes are placed one on top of the other. I learned of this assembly in a vintage recipe booklet, as I collect the booklets and am currently writing a cookbook of booklet baking recipes (The Vintage Baker [Chronicle Books April 2018]) that I have tweaked and twisted for the 21st century baker – but that is a story for another day!  These shortcakes are easy to throw together, as is the fruit that fills them, and folks get awfully excited when presented with one at a dinner party or a festive summer luncheon. Trust me.

To take a peek at the original blog post for my peach and strawberry shortcakes- and to peruse my collection of original recipes, click here.

 

 


 

INGREDIENTS:

For the filling –

  • 3 medium-sized peaches (leave the skin on)
  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced prior to measuring
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

For the shortcakes –

  • 1 stick, 8 tbsp, unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (ie: sift before measuring)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

For assembling/baking –

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Turbinado sugar

For the whipped cream –

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • splash of vanilla

 

TO MAKE THE FILLING

cut the peaches into 1/2 to 1-inch chunks. place in a medium sized bowl. add the strawberries and sugar (add more or less sugar depending on the sweetness of your fruit) and stir gently with a wooden spoon. let fruit sit on the counter (or in the fridge) macerating, while you make the shortcakes.

TO MAKE THE SHORTCAKES

preheat the oven to 450 degrees. cut the butter into small cubes and place in the freezer. in a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.

add the butter to the dry ingredients and working quickly, and using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until – yes, you guessed it – the flour resembles coarse meal.

add the cream and the mascarpone and using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gently incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry. the mixture will seem too dry and you’ll be dying to add more cream. resist and keep stirring, or, do as i do, and knead the dough in the bowl with your hands until it comes together.

dump the dough out on the counter (you shouldn’t need to flour your work surface, as the dough will still be dry-ish) and knead the dough a few times until it is no longer crumbly and the dry and moist bits are fully integrated.

lightly flour your work surface, if the dough is at all sticky, and pat the dough into a rectangle a little less than 1/2 of an inch thick. be super gentle as you pat. using a 2 1/2-in biscuit cutter, dipped in flour, begin cutting out shortcakes from the rectangle. do not twist the cutter as you push through the dough (if you twist as you push down or pull up, the biscuits will not rise as well).

place the shortcakes on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. continue cutting out cakes until you have used up all of your dough, re-forming your rectangle with scraps, as you go.

place the sheet in the freezer for about an hour, or overnight, or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to two weeks, before baking. some time in the freezer pre-bake, helps the shortcakes keep their shape.

brush the tops of the shortcakes with melted butter. place one cake on top of another and sprinkle the top-top with turbinado sugar. place the tray in the pre-heated oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating after 5, and checking after 10. the cakes are ready when they are golden brown on top and lightly browned on the bottom. make the whipped cream while the shortcakes bake.

TO MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM

beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium-high speed, until the cream almost holds a soft peak (the cream is best a bit droopy – in my photos, i had over whipped it, as i am so used to making whipped cream for icebox cakes and when doing so, cream is always over whipped just slightly . . . ).

TO ASSEMBLE THE SHORTCAKES

once removed from the oven, let the shortcakes sit a minute or two on the tray, until they are still warm, but easy to handle. gently pull the two halves of the cake apart. dribble some of the fruit juice that has accumulated underneath the peaches and strawberries onto the bottom half of the shortcake. add a few spoonfuls of fruit, followed by a big dollop of whipped cream. top the whipped cream with the other half/top of the cake. place a bit of extra fruit on each plate before serving and please place the bowl of cream on the table so that people can take more if they so desire (i always so desire, fyi).

 

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