The average rainfall for April in England is 37 millimeters.  That equates to about an inch and a half of rain.

The reason I bring up this little meterological factoid is because what we actually got this last April was two millimeters.  TWO.  That’s negligable.  Criminey, that’s a humid day in July.  It’s nothing.

However, the dry weather combined with record warm temperatures have had one fantastic result – a bumper crop of British strawberries.  Strawberries so plump and red and juicy, you see them and get a whole new understanding of the seduction scene in Tess of the d’Urbervilles.  Even in bad years, British strawberries blow their Californian cousins out of the water – they’re slightly smaller but inifinitely more flavorful and juicy.  This year, though … well, they’re in a league all their own.

So, yesterday, I went out to pick up a couple of things from the grocery and succumbed to the siren’s call of half priced strawberries.  Resistance was definitely futile.

So, this morning, I had every intention of making either a Victoria sponge cake or possibly a pound cake.  Then, I looked in my fridge and was greeted by a complete dearth of eggs.  Don’t ask me how it happened, I’m still at a loss.  So.  What to make to go with the little red beauties …

Then, it dawned on me – shortcake!  Flour, sugar, butter, leavening, cream – no eggs required!  Heck yeah!!

Brown Sugar Shortcakes with Strawberries

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 6 oz butter, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • Strawberries, halved or quartered (depending on size)
  • Cream + 2 tsp sugar, whipped

Preheat the oven to 425 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Pop the butter in the freezer for about 15 minutes to get it super cold while you’re getting your stuff together.  Put the flour in a very large bowl and add the baking powder, brown sugar and salt, then toss well to aerate and combine.  Remove the butter from the freezer and grate it into the flour mixture, rubbing in until it’s pea-sized, then pour in the cream and stir to combine, then use your hands to continue mixing but not overworking.  It’s going to feel a little dry, but you’ll be able to squeeze it together to form your dough. 

Use a 1/3 cup measurer to get the same amount of dough each time, then use your hand to squeeze them into a patty shape and place them on the pan about an inch or so apart – this recipe will make about 18 shortbreads – and bake about 15 minutes until they’re golden on top.  While they’re cooking, sprinkle your sliced strawberries with a little sugar to ge them to macerate and whip the cream and sugar.  Let the shortcakes cool a bit then serve by halving and generously layering with the berries and cream