The first strawberry shortcake recipe appeared in an English cookbook as early as 1588, according to Driscoll’s berry growers (Did you know the original Mr Driscoll was a butcher from Alsace who emigrated to California?). By 1850, strawberry shortcake was a well-known biscuit and fruit dessert served hot with butter and sweetened cream. In the United States, strawberry shortcake parties were celebrations of the summer fruit harvest. This tradition continues in some parts of the United States on June 14, which is Strawberry Shortcake Day. It wasn’t until 1910 that French pastry chefs changed the topping to heavy whipped cream. Many commercial strawberry shortcakes in the US today are made with a sponge cake base. The recipe, which is very easy, below uses the more traditional American shortcake recipe (similar to a scone) and yogurt, because I like to eat it for breakfast! It is also delicious with blueberries or sliced peaches and once I even added oats and nuts to the batter. This time I used half chickpea flour and half wheat flour plus a 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts.
Read about the different varieties of strawberries available in France here. My favorites are gariguettes because of their tartness. Gartiguettes seem to be the variety the French like the most too.
Trivia: Fonzie frequently used Shortcake as a nickname for Richie’s younger sister Joanie in the comedy series Happy Days.
6 cups/1 kg of fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup/80g sugar
2 cups/270g flour
2 Tablespoons/30g sugar
1 Tablespoon/1 sachet baking powder
½ teaspoon/1 cuillière à café salt
1/2 cup/130g butter
1 beaten egg
2/3 cup/16cl milk (1/2 cup/12cl milk for individual cakes)
1 cup yogurt or whipped cream
Stir together the strawberry slices and 1/4 cup sugar and put aside for a least an hour to allow the juices to collect.
In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter, using a pastry blender or knife, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl combine egg and milk. Add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring just until moist.
Now you can choose between two formats. A large cake sized shortcake or individual servings.
For the large cake spread dough into a greased 8 inch round baking pan. Bake at 450°F/220°C for 15-18 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes.
For individual cakes knead the dough on a floured surface about 12 strokes. Pat into 9 cakes about 1cm thick or roll out then cut with a biscuit cutter. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 450°F/220°C for 10 minutes or until golden.
Serve warm. Split the cake(s) in half horizontally. Stack on a plate alternating layers of cake, yogurt, then strawberries.