Hello, shortcake! Pre-summer days are a time for the Southern classic, strawberry shortcake, a sweet biscuit dessert paired with strawberries. But shortcake can be so much more! Turning to blackberries, blueberries and even peaches scored in the Sierras can make this dish pop with a sublime taste.
I prefer the old-fashioned biscuits, commonly savored in the South. You can make country-style biscuits from scratch or bake biscuits using a mix in a box to get a homemade flavor, and a gift of convenience. The most popular shortcake is made with strawberries — a reasonable price at Tahoe for a late spring fruit. And the strawberry shortcake of choice is the kind with vanilla ice cream, and/or whipped cream. But the beauty of this fun-and-healthful food is that you can add other fresh fruits and give shortcake a new, improved look for the thrill of it.
Speaking of thrilling, a few years ago, I was in author research mode to write “The Healing Powers of Honey.” It was part of my plan to go to Reno during late spring and visit thousands of honey bees and their beekeeper. Once in the backyard amid bees flying hither and thither, I wasn’t spooked like a character in a sci-fi film. Perhaps it was the calm sporting dog walking about that put me in a comfort zone. Once back in the bee man’s house chock-full of honey, honeycomb, fresh fruit (he sold it at the farmers market), and candles, I was envious. I thought, “Maybe I’d be happier as an outdoors-y beekeeper instead of a sit down and write indoors author.” And I felt a bond to the hardworking bee: making honey and pollinating our favorite foods including fruits such as strawberries and peaches.
On the way back home, with a few jars of alfalfa honey to help me fight springtime allergies, I was grateful to the honey bee — a kindred spirit. And that night I made strawberry-peach shortcake. I used store-bought pound cake and drizzled honey on top of the fruit. Savoring each bite of the shortcake with memories of the manuka honey spa bath before my honey bee visit made the shortcake scrumptious.
A honey of a peach shortcake
1 cup pancake and baking mix
1/3 cup organic low-fat milk
2 tablespoons raw sugar
Raw sugar to sprinkle on top
2 cups fresh strawberries and peaches, sliced (or use blackberries and/or blueberries)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
All natural vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream (or try strawberry)
In a large bowl, combine baking mix, milk and sugar. Instead of kneading and cutting circles, you can use the rustic drop method and place four spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 15 minutes or till golden brown. Serve warm, sliced, and top with fruit (mixed with lemon juice and honey), ice cream and/or whipped cream. Serves 4 mini shortcakes or 2 medium-sized ones.
On Wednesday morning, I effortlessly whipped up a batch of biscuits and married fresh peaches and strawberries mixed with honey. I let it chill for about an hour. The warm shortcake with cold juicy fruit pieces and whipped cream layers was awesome; and the raw sugar crunch was a like a strawberry on top, making it one dessert to love.
Motto: A little extra effort and shaking things up with old and new ingredients can wow your senses bigtime.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is www.calorey.com.