Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the great Freeman strawberry shortcake

There is a culinary legend in my family that there are two kinds of people in this world: Freemans and non-Freemans. This legend pertains to my grandmother's amazing strawberry shortcake, and whether or not you eat it as it comes (the Freemans) or defile it with whipped cream, cool whip, or *heaven help us* ice cream (non-Freemans). The test is to see whether the new individual to the family - boyfriends, friends, etc. - will choose to leave his/her shortcake in all of its natural glory or add the dreaded toppings. My mom, sister, and I are all Freeman purists, whereas my dad, alas, is not.

Mark recently tried the shortcake for the first time, and I am sad to report he is not a Freeman. He even suggested making homemade whipped cream. And shared it with his fellow defilers, Amber and Anthony. *Sigh.*

The reason we don't defile our shortcake is because it is so heavenly alone. It tastes like a cross between a biscuit and a shortbread, and when a large slab is sliced into wedges and split open to be topped with sweet berries (preferably those from my grandparents' garden), it's bliss.

Here's what you need. Shortening, flour, buttermilk, baking soda, water, and berries. And Sir Sous Chef. :)

Cut the shortening into the flour with a pastry cutter. I grew up watching my grandma and mom do this by hand. I felt like I couldn't use the food processor or it just wouldn't be right. It gets nice and crumbly.

After adding the buttermilk and soda/water mixture, it becomes rather curdly-looking and sticky. It's hard to see in this photo. I really need lessons in food photography.

Get your hands in there and make it one big lump (or two in my case, since I was making a double batch.) Plop them on cookie sheets.

Bake until golden brown.

Here is when you would cut strawberries and mash them and add sugar to sweeten - all by hand. I decided to use the food processor, and was a little overzealous. I ended up with strawberry puree. In a ridiculous neon bowl. I was upset that there were no berry chunks, but no one seemed to mind.

We decided to eat the shortcake in my big Pyrex measuring cups, due to the pile of dishes in the dishwasher at the time.

Here we have the non-Freeman shortcake. *hangs head in mock sadness*

And the glory that is Freeman strawberry shortcake, in yet another of my bad photos. Behold.

Grandma, if you're reading this, I can't make it like you can. :-)