Our tiny little strawberry plants are still going strong, soaking up all that sun and rain in the race for strawberry-gedon. Growing up in an traditional Asian family, if I wanted baked goods I either had to go out and buy them or make them myself cuz the oven was mainly used for making savory delights and while they were delightful, I have sweet tooth that must be appeased. In the summer months I’d always look forward to the fair cuz the local farms would come to town and offer up the fruits of their labors in the form of strawberry shortcake, a deceptively simple dessert usually consisting of a sweet biscuit soaked with macerated strawberries and topped with luscious whipped cream, a dessert-y fruit sandwich if you will. For the longest time I relied on fairs and outdoor concerts to fuel my shortcake jones cuz I was too lazy to roll out biscuit dough and cut it into rounds. Mea culpa. And then I discovered drop scones. Fluffy on the inside yet crispety on the outside, just perfect for soaking up all that yummy berry juice with almost no effort and with a little help from the toaster oven they reheat beautifully the next day for breakfast if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers. The buttermilk keeps these scones nice and tender instead of dry like they can sometimes be and adding lemon zest gives you a nice zing that really complements those juicy berries. The small amount of brandy and Cointreau, just to add flavor, so it’s unlikely any underage partakers will giggly much less tipsy and the sweetly tangy balsamic vinegar just adds more piquant contrast to the tangy strawberries giving them that extra oomph to take you over the top. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the next 3 pounds of strawberries. Who knew my scraggly sun-beaten side yard could produce 2-3 pounds of succulent fruit every few days for weeks on end? Just call me the scurvy-less saucier ;)
Lemon Zest Drop Scones
2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c + 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt or substitute a pinch of table salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c low-fat buttermilk, chilled
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 large egg yolk
Preheat oven to 400F. If not using a silicone baking mat grease a baking sheet and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, 1/3 c sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add butter, buttermilk, lemon juice, and egg yolk. Stir till just combined, no white lumps or streaks visible.
Drop ~1/3-1/2 c mounds of dough onto baking sheet ~3 inches apart. Sprinkle tops with remaining 1 tbsp sugar. Bake till golden and a cake tester or wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool or baking rack for at least 10-5 before assembling shortcakes. Makes 6 large scones if using 1/2 c mounds or 10 medium-sized 1/3 c mound scones. 6 large scones with a silicone baking mat and convection takes me ~18 minutes.
2 c strawberries, hulled and quartered
2-4 + 2 tbsp sugar, depending on how sweet your berries are
2 tbsp brandy or rum, optional
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c whipping cream
1 tsp Cointreau, optional
6 lemon zest drop scones, cut in half horizontally with a bread knife (the serrated edge will cut the scones cleanly instead of tearing them like with a straight edge)
Macerate strawberries with 2 tbsp sugar, brandy, and balsamic vinegar. Add additional 1-2 tbsp sugar if needed to taste, depending on how sweet your berries are. Set aside at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. I like to do this step while waiting for the scones to bake.
Whip cream and remaining 2 tbsp sugar till it forms soft peaks. Refrigerate till ready to use.
Assemble shortcake by placing bottom half of scone in a shallow bowl or plate. Top with ~1/4-1/3 c strawberry mixture plus 1-2 tbsp of the yummy liquids that will soak into the scone. Add 2-3 tbsp of whipped cream and place remaining scone half on top. Makes 6 generous servings, perfect for sharing at the end of a feast or gorging when the hubby’s off globe trotting ^_^