Strawberry Shortcake with Lemon Curd

April 16, 2013 § 3 Comments

Shortcake Photo

A few days ago, I had an epiphany while I was hiking. I was thinking about food, as I often do, and was trying to decide what dessert to make that evening. I knew I wanted to use strawberries. I was thinking of staying simple, and doing strawberries and cream. Then I started thinking about how much I like lemon tarts and lemon curd. And then I realized, why not combine strawberries, lemon curd and whipped cream, and add shortcake to boot?!?

I thought I had come up with a completely original idea. When I got home, I took out my cookbooks to look up as many shortcake recipes as I could get my hands on, and low and behold, the first recipe I found “stole” my idea – they had their very own lemon curd shortcake recipe!

So there you have it. I may not have been the first to think of combining lemon curd, strawberries, cream and shortcake, but here is my take on it. And it was delightful, if I do say so myself.

Strawberry Half Flat

Strawberry Shortcake with Lemon Curd Whipped Cream (adapted from Baking Illustrated and The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally)

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

Shortcake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting work surface)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk (whole is also fine)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Lemon Curd Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (juice of about 3 large lemons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Strawberries

  • 2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced (by all means, use more strawberries if you really like to heap them on your shortcake)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

NOTE: I know they are expensive, but if you can afford to splurge, go for organic strawberries. Conventional strawberries are among the most heavily contaminated crops, and organic strawberries are delicious!

Give yourself a few hours for this recipe. You won’t have to work the whole time, but the lemon curd needs time to cool, and you don’t want to do too much at once and end up burning your shortcake while you make the curd (as I may have done the first time around). Also, you can make your biscuits at the last minute, and serve them warm, but this requires a lot of planning. I made  mine earlier in the day and served them at room temperature, and there were no complaints!

STRAWBERRIES – Toss the hulled and sliced strawberries with sugar, cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes, and up to several hours.

SHORTCAKE – Heat oven to 425º. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor, and pulse to combine. Add the butter and lemon zest and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal and butter pieces are no larger than small peas (approximately 10-15 quick pulses). Transfer mixture to a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg, milk and cream. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture, and use a  rubber  spatula to combine. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead briefly until dough  comes together, just a few turns. Shape and pat dough into a rectangle 3/4 inch thick. Flour a 3-inch biscuit cutter,  and cut out six rounds. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, use a water glass or a sharp knife to cut out rounds. Gather dough scraps, and if you have enough dough remaining, pat into another (smaller) rectangle  3/4 inch thick, and cut additional rounds.

Line a baking sheet with parchment, and place dough rounds 1 inch apart on sheet. Brush tops with lightly beaten egg white, and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake shortcakes until golden brown, 12-16 minutes, rotating sheet half way through. Place baking sheet on wire rack and cool at least 10 minutes. Biscuits can be stored over-night in an air-tight container, but are best eaten the day they are baked.

LEMON CURD (you will have a bit of extra lemon curd left over…not the worst problem to have) – Get out your thermometer, a fine mesh strainer and a small bowl. Place strainer over bowl and set aside. Attach thermometer to a small saucepan. If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry…you can still make the curd, you just have to pay closer attention!

Combine lemon juice, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and salt in saucepan, and whisk to combine. Place pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thermometer registers 170º. If you don’t have a thermometer, cook curd until it is thickened enough to stick to the spoon. If curd begins to boil, it is probably done.

Remove from heat immediately, and stir in butter and vanilla. Stir until butter is fully incorporated, and then pour through fine mesh strainer into small bowl. Set the curd aside to cool to room temperature, or cover curd directly with plastic wrap (allowing plastic wrap to rest on the surface of the curd) and refrigerate.

Whip the cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in approximately 1/3 of the cooled lemon curd (curd must be room temperature or cooler), and whip again until medium peaks form. You can add additional lemon curd to taste, but be mindful of two things if doing so. First, if you add too much curd, the whipped cream may not thicken as much as you hope, never reaching the “medium peak” stage. Second, as you gradually add additional curd, you must also be careful not to over-whip the cream, turning it to butter. We want the happy medium of perfect lemon-curd taste and perfectly whipped cream!

ASSEMBLE – Split your warm or room temperature biscuits in half. Spoon a heaping portion of fruit on the bottom biscuit,  followed by a large dollop of lemon curd whipped cream. If you like lemon curd as much as I do, add a bit of your left-over lemon curd on top as well, and then replace the top biscuit. Serve immediately!

Shortcake with Lemon Curd

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