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What is Shortcake?

When fresh strawberries, or fresh fruit of almost any kind, are at their peak one of the most common dessert suggestions is for strawberry shortcake. But “shortcake” doesn’t really accurately describe what the dessert looks like, and unless you’ve had one before, you might be stuck scratching you head when you’re served one. Strawberry shortcake is typically made with a biscuit-like cake or scone that is split and filled with strawberries and sweetened whipped cream. It’s a dessert that is easy to make and really highlights the berries. The name actually dates back long before this current shortcake first appeared. Short cakes were originally any cake that was high in fat, which was also known in general as shortening – hence the name. Short cakes were a contrast to egg-based cakes like sponge cakes that didn’t use very much butter in their basic recipes. The biscuits used for most shortcakes today generally use a lot of butter, rubbed into a flour mixture to produce a tender biscuit with a slightly flaky texture. They’re a good backdrop for the moist filling of cream and berries.

If you look hard enough, you’ll find other desserts called shortcakes that bear no resemblance to this one. They’re still based on that tradition that calls a rich butter cake a shortcake. This means that you will sometimes come across layer cakes called shortcakes or cupcakes, split and packed with berries, that are shortcakes, as well.

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  • Nicola
    September 3, 2009

    I have always wanted to make Strawberry Shortcake — I might need to go ahead and finally try it. Thanks for sharing!

  • […] to post it in my blog, I made a little research (thank God there’s Google! ) and found out that American Style Strawberry Shortcake is a scone or biscuit-like cake which is cut in half and then filled with whipped cream and […]

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