Saturday, February 12, 2011

Weekend Cooking #2 - Strawberry Shortcake

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I have always associated strawberry shortcake with Valentine’s Day because, when I was growing up, we always had it on February 14th for dessert. We actually had it because strawberry shortcake was my father’s favorite dessert and his birthday just happened to fall on Valentine’s Day.

My parents didn’t often talk about war shortages, with few exceptions, but my dad did occasionally speak about missing his annual birthday treat during the Second World War (my mom, on the other hand, never got tired of telling us that she would never, ever eat Spam again, and she stuck to her guns on that.) Heavy cream has been ration in 1942 and, well, it was one of the essential parts making good strawberry shortcake, among it other uses. So, imagine the joy people must have felt when it was announced that heavy cream would no longer be rationed and that as of September 5, 1945, it would be available again.
New York Times, September 6, 1945

And, as if that wasn’t reason enough to be happy, on September 7, 1945, Jane Holt, the Food Editor for the New York Times began her food column with this:

Apparently, Jane Holt and my dad thought along the same lines.  However, for those who didn't care for strawberries, perhaps they were glad to find that Brussels sprouts were also beginning to make an appearance.
Happy Birthday/Valentine’s Day Strawberry Shortcake

Baking Powder Biscuits (makes about 12 biscuits)
2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
4 tablespoons shortening (like Crisco)
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 400°

1- Sift flour once, measure out 2 cups, add baking powder and salt and sift again.
2- Cut in shortening, either with a pastry cutter or a fork.
3- Add milk gradually, stirring until a soft dough is formed.
4- On a floured board, lightly knead for about 30 seconds. Don’t do this too long or the biscuits with be like lead.
5- Roll out dough till it is about ½ inch thick, flour the edge of a biscuit cutter (my mom always used a glass for this) and cut 2 in circles in the dough.
6- Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in hot oven 12-15 minutes.

Whipped Cream
1 pint heavy cream
¼ cup sugar (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla

1- Whip cream until somewhat stiff.
2- Add sugar and vanilla
3- Beat until cream is stiff and peaks can be forms.

When biscuits are cooled, split in half, spoon strawberries on bottom half, cover, add more strawberry and finished with whipped cream.

Happy Valentine's Day



  1. I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying these WWII posts. In my house heavy cream and Brussels sprouts would both be cheered. Strawberries just make an appearance in my grocery store. A sure sign spring is on its way.

  2. What a neat post! Love it all, the recipes, news articles and Valentine cards!!

  3. I love this post. I have no idea how you found those NY Times articles but they are priceless. You make Strawberry Shortcake the way I love it with biscuits. It's the perfect blend of sweet and salty. You brought back happy memories today for me.

  4. Thanks heaven, a REAL strawberry shortcake, made with a biscuit and not some sort of cake ...which of course is not a 'shortcake' at all.

  5. Mmm, strawberry shortcake. And, my sister and I were just brainstorming about what to make our brother for his upcoming birthday and your post reminded me that strawberry shortcake is one of his favorites. So, thank you for that!

  6. Love your post. The clippings were interesting to read. I've rarely had strawberry shortcake, and only once that I remember was it served on a biscuit. I was surprised but kept my mouth shut, only to find out that that was the traditional serving method.

  7. Lovely story. Those valentines are precious!

  8. What a perfect post right before Valentine's honey would love these!

  9. Loved this post!! That type of biscuit is my favorite in strawberry shortcake.

  10. Thanks, everyone, I appreciate your comments, I also get very nostalgic for strawberry shortcake sometimes, so this was the perfect time to write about it. My biscuits have never been as good as my mom's, no matter how often I make them.

  11. Very nice post and that recipe looks great. I don't think this is strawberry season for us, but I must try that recipe sometime!