Saturday, June 19, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcakes

Last weekend I balanced my time between soccer and baking.   On Sunday I spent the majority of the day on these rhubarb compote shortcakes with macerated strawberries from Martha Stewart.  There were so many components - the short cakes, rhubarb compote, macerated strawberries, and whipped cream.  If you are going to make these, I would make sure to only share them with special people.

Although, I thought the shortcakes tasted sweet and delicious, I was disappointed that they didn't puff as high as I expected.  It was probably due to the fact that I used my fingers to cut the butter in the flour.  The butter needs to be incredibly cold to create the flaky goodness in the biscuit.  I also felt like the orange zest in the rhubarb compote overpowered the rhubarb.  If I make it again, I will definitely keep those things in mind.

Here are the ingredients for Buttermilk Shortcakes from Martha Stewart's Cooking School, serves 10:
-3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for biscuit cutter
-1 cup cake flour
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon table salt (I used kosher without a problem)
-1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
-1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
-1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
-2 tablespoons heavy cream, for brushing
-Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling (or use granulated sugar)

To begin, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  I didn't have parchment, so I just buttered the baking sheet.

Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas.
Rub the vanilla seeds into the buttermilk with your fingers.  Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork until most of the ingredients have come together into a moist dough.  It's okay if some flour is left on the bottom of bowl.
Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and gather any loose bits together.  Lightly incorporate all the ingredients awhile patting into a rough rectangle.  Being careful not to overwork the dough.  Fold dough into thirds - starting with a short end, carefully fold over.  (The folding adds an extra layering of flakiness to the finished biscuits.)  Pat out dough until 1 3/4 inches thick.  Using a floured biscuit cutter, cut dough into 2 1/2 inch rounds.  I am sorry the at I have no pictures of the biscuit making process, but the dough was pretty wet and messy.  I couldn't touch my camera!  In Martha's book, the dough seemed a little drier than mine, maybe because of my hot apartment.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place rounds on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  Gather scraps and pat out again, and cut once.  Chill 20 minutes.  Brush tops with the cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Bake 10 minutes and rotate sheet.  Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue to bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes more.  Transfer biscuits to a wire rack to cool.
Rhubarb Compote from Martha Stewart's Cooking School, makes about 3 1/2 cups:
-2 1/4 pounds rhubarb, ends trimmed and leaves discarded
-1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
-1/2 cup water
-3 strips (each 2 1/2 by 1/2 inch) orange zest
-3 strips (each 2 1/2 by 1/2 inch) lemon zest
-1/4 teaspoon salt

Cut rhubarb crosswise on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces (you should have about 5 cups).
Bring sugar, water, zests, and salt to a boil in a large straight-sided skillet, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Add rhubarb, and stir to coat in sugar syrup.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat until rhubarb is just tender, about 5 minutes.  Do not overcook, you want most of the rhubarb pieces to hold their shape.
Remove from heat and let cool completely, about 1 hour, before using.  Compote can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Macerated strawberries from Martha Stewart's Cooking School, makes about 2 1/2 cups:
-1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled (large berries halved or quartered lengthwise)
-2 tablespoons sugar
-1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a bowl, toss berries with sugar and lemon juice to combine.  Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes to draw out some of the juices before serving.

Whipped Cream from Martha Stewart's Cooking School, makes about 2 cups:
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a deep mixing bowl set in a large ice-water bath, whisk cream by hand until soft peaks form.  Sprinkle with sugar, add vanilla, and whisk until soft peaks return.  Do not overbeat.

Split biscuits, and layer with whipped cream and rhubarb compote.  Serve strawberries on the side. Enjoy!

Last year I made sugar snap pea and asparagus pasta, a really delicious rhubarb crisp, quick strawberry jam, and a sesame pea shoot salad.

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