This recipe was inspired by the cover recipe in a magazine my mom had when I was a kid, and I dreamed of making it. I duplicated the grand presentation from the cover shot the first time, but after trying to cut it I figured out that individual biscuits made much more sense. Use whatever fruit you like for the shortcake and don’t be stingy with the whipped cream!
BISCUITS (makes 6-8)
3 cups all – purpose flour, sifted
3-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or butter
1 cup milk (whole milk, or even coffee cream gives a rich flavour – buttermilk can be substituted for a tangy biscuit, good with sweet fruit like strawberries)
FRUIT & FILLING
1-1/2 lbs fresh fruit if possible (frozen fruit can be substituted if necessary)
1/2 cup sugar
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
4 tbsp liqueur or brandy (Grand Marnier or Cointreau works well with berries; bourbon is wonderful with peaches)
1-1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped and sweetened
Prepare the fruit first, by chopping into pieces in a medium bowl (nice-looking slices or chunks, so it presents well). Add lemon zest and juice as well as sugar; stir well. Lastly add the alcohol and mix. Cover and set aside. (Refrigerate only if you are making it way ahead – you don’t want the fruit cold when you serve it or you won’t get the full flavours.)
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and 1 tbsp sugar into a large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or using the pulse mode of a mixer or robot until mixture resembles cornmeal.
Add milk and mix lightly just until blended. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until smooth (the less you handle it, the better).
Press dough with hands to about 3/4 – 1 inch thick. Cut rounds using a cutter or glass approximately 2 inches in diameter. Place rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Bake at 450F / 230C for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Whip cream just before serving; sweeten with sugar to taste (I like it not too sweet) and add 1 tsp vanilla extract if desired.
To assemble, cut each round in half and place bottom halves on plates. Divide fruit and whipped cream into 2 bowls, 2/3 and 1/3. Drizzle a spoonful of juice from the 2/3 fruit on each bottom, then divide the remainder of the 2/3 bowl evenly among bottom rounds, topping with whipped cream from the 2/3 portion. Place top of each round at an angle over the filled bottom, then divide the 1/3 whipped cream, and gracefully place fruit from the 1/3 bowl evenly among plates. Garnish with fresh mint if desired, and voilà !