Simple Summer Delight

11 07 2011

I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of baking.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat desserts but I just don’t like the process of following a recipe to make them.  When it comes to cooking, I love to be creative with the process.  I don’t think I own a full set of measuring cups, which I should, because I just hate to be measure so precisely.  My favorite thing about cooking is using my hands to cut, season and feel when the food I am cooking needs more flavor.  My creative process involves imagining ingredients that I think will work together,  cooking them and adding seasoning to make the flavors blend.  I usually let the food tell me what it needs.

When it comes to desserts, the flour and butter sure don’t speak to me in the same way.  Baking is all about precision which is not my forte.  I love simple desserts with ripe seasonal ingredients and a rustic presentations……Apricot-Rhubarb Cobbler, delicious Red Velbet Cupcakes with lots of frosting and moist cake, home-made Pistachio Ice-Cream, a simple high-quality Chocolate Cake with vanilla whipped cream or seasonal berries.  What can I say, I like what I like?

When I am asked to bake for a catered party or private dinner, I go with recipes that are simple, delicious and most of all consistent. It’s a bad feeling when you are not sure if your dessert is going to “work-out”.  In my business, people expect everything to not only work out, but to wow them.  I recently came across a wonderful summer recipe for “Cinnamon Strawberry Shortcake” that I wanted to share it with you.  This is a recipe you should make the day of your party.  The best part is that you don’t have to worry about it coming out.  I can guarantee you that it will.  Just yesterday, I made the cake for 45 guests and it was a home run!

Cinnamon Strawberry Shortcake

(Serves Eight)

Shortcake:

2 cups, AP Flour
2 tsp., Baking Powder
1/3 cup, Sugar
1/4 tsp., Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp., Ground Cinnamon
1/3 cup, Butter, cut in cubes
1 egg, Beaten well
2-4 Tbs, Whole Milk
 
(TO BRUSH ON TOP OF THE CAKE)
2-3 Tbs., Butter (melted)
1 egg (beaten well)
 
 
Macerated Strawberries
3 cups, Fresh Strawberries, stemmed and cut in quarters
2 Tbs. Powdered Sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or Vanilla Bean
 
Fresh Whipped Cream
1 cup, Heavy Cream
3/4 Tbs., Powdered Sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or Vanilla Bean
 (Putting the mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for half an hour will give you successful whipped cream every time)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425. Mix the strawberries with the vanilla and sugar in a bowl or ziplock bag and set aside. 
 
Grease a round, 9-inch square pan and set aside. In a large Kitchen Aid bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Blend in the butter and egg and mix well. Add enough milk to make a moist, slightly sticky dough. Start with 2 Tsp. and add more as needed.
 
Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on your countertop, place the dough on top, and roll the dough gently into a 9-inch round. (you can use a roller or your hands for a more rustic look)  Place the round into the cake pan. (dont worry if it isn’t a perfect fit) Combine the melted butter and egg and brush the top of the cake generously with this mixture. Bake at 425 for 13-15 minutes, until the top is caramelized. Remove from the pan, let the cakes cool.
 
Right before service, make the fresh whipped cream by beating the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in a Kitchen Aid with a whisk attachment or a mixing bowl with a whisk until it reaches your desired consistency.
 
To assemble, use a knife to score around the edges of the cake to pop it out of the pan.  Cut the cake in 8 even pieces.  Add a large spoonful of strawberries and strawberry juice on each piece of cake.  Top with a large dollop of fresh whipped cream. Serve and enjoy!
 
 
 
 
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