We ate strawberry shortcake for dinner the other night. Not for dessert, but for dinner. Just strawberry shortcake for dinner. And it was awesome.
Okay, I may have been more excited about it than the girls (Hubby was away). They ate their strawberries, picked at the shortcake and licked some of the cream. The Monster thought the macerated strawberries were a fun treat - I can suck out their juices like Jello, Mama!
I may have, ahem, finished theirs as well as mine.
And you know what? I don't feel guilty about this at all. It was a celebration of all that is awesome about summer. Days that involved nothing more than swinging, water fights, and mastering the Hula Hoop for the first time. Days that have your three year old running around the block naked because her clothes got wet and it's too much work to go inside and get new clothes. Days that end with dessert for dinner eaten outside with the sun in your eyes.
Strawberry Shortcake includes fruits, grains, and dairy. If that combo is more than okay for breakfast it is certainly fine for dinner. Of course, ice cream is also fine for dinner. Along with popcorn, pancakes, and cottage cheese with fruit salad. Dinner does not have to involve a protein, a vegetable, and a starch to be dinner.
Dinner has to be the gathering around the table; the moment when we stop, just for a second, to be together as a family. It is the time when we listen to a 5 year stammer through her excitement, the time we discuss pirates, a balanced diet, and why we can't fly to Australia for a day. It's the moment we refuel so the rest of the summer night can be spent with the Hula Hoop.
If I want to serve only dessert for dinner on a nearly perfect summer day, so be it. If you want to, then go for it. And if anyone complains or judges, then send them to me. I'll set them straight with shortcake.
This strawberry shortcake was probably the best I've ever made. I've made the shortcake a few times now, the recipe comes from Baking, by Dorie Greenspan. I've adjusted it to a more reasonable size for our family. It is about the flakiest, most balanced little biscuit cake in the world. Crumbly and fine, but with enough structure to hold up to juicy strawberries and ever so lightly sweetened cream.
Strawberry Shortcake for Dinner
Makes 6 shortcakes
1 cup flour
1/3 cup whole grain flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tonka bean, grated (optional)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1/2 cups cream
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silicon mat.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2'' cubes. Using your hands, two knives, or a pastry cutter smash the butter together with the dry ingredients. I use my hands and squish it through my fingers. My 3 year old helps. It takes only a minute or two and the dough starts to look like a mix of flakes, crumbs, and tiny knobs of crumbly butter.
Remove your hands from the bowl, grab a fork, and pour in the cream. Stir together. If necessary, use your hands again to get it all to come together. The dough will be sticky.
Spoon into 6 piles on your prepared sheet. Shape a little and press down gently so they are no more than 1'' high. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Let cool for a couple of minutes on pan, then cool for a few more on wire rack.
To make the shortcakes you also need strawberries. Any other summer fruit would also work. Go with what's fresh and in season for you.
2 cups clean and sliced strawberries
1 Tbsp sugar
Combine the berries and sugar, let sit while the shortcakes and baking and cooling.
1 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Whip the cream until peaks are just starting to form. Add the sugar and vanilla, whip until lightly firm.
To serve, top a cooled shortcake with a generous scoop of berries and top with a large dollop of whipped cream.
*I used my favourite, Gold Forest Grains, but you can simply use all-purpose flour for the entire amount.