…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? For my generation there were lots of wonderful memories with some of mom’s or grandmother’s cooking—today’s kids may not have the same recollections. If you have a family favorite you might want to document now so it can live on as a family legacy to share with your current and future mini me’s.
When I think back to my childhood most of the great baking came from my Aunt Esther and I have shared several recipes of hers with you on this blog. And then there was the yeasty waffle recipe from Aunt Waffle (actually, Aunt Ethel). My mother’s recipe… not so much. I once featured on one of my restaurant menus, “Apple Pie like mom used to make $2.95; Apple Pie like mom thought she made $5.95.” That being the case, I have a fascination with other moms’ great recipes.
I recently read in Allrecipes that James Beard shared his mother's recipe for shortcake with a friend. James Beard claimed that his mother’s secret ingredient in baking her shortcake was finely crumbled hard-boiled egg yolks, which enrich the dough without toughening it. Even before Beard was the famous award-winning James Beard who wrote 20 cookbooks, hosted cooking shows and changed the game of modern cuisine, his mom was whipping up one seriously delicious—yet delightfully strange—shortcake recipe. Thanks mom!
When I was in Melbourne several years ago, I worked with an old-world German pastry chef and he, too, used finely crumbled hard-boiled egg yolks, which enriched the dough without toughening it contributing to the baked cakes' perfectly tender crumb. The technique has also appeared in recipes from The Great British Bake Off in 2018. What I found out is that this method is common in Northern European baking, where savvy bakers discovered that the small egg yolk bits prevent too much gluten from forming in the dough, keeping the baked goods (like shortcakes) ultra-tender.
The next time you’re in the produce section of your local supermarket and see all those beautiful, aroma-blessed fresh strawberries, pick up a couple of baskets (or flats) and then walk right by the packaged, convenience spongy bun shortcakes and go home to make your own home-baked shortcake pastry following the recipe below.
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 Servings
For the shortcake pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a small mesh sieve
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
For the strawberry topping
3 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
For the whipped cream topping
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
mint sprig (garnish)
To make the shortcake pastry
ChefSecrets: The secret to tender shortcakes is to not overwork the dough.
Quip of the Day: “Why were the little strawberries so upset? Because their parents were in a jam!”
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