The beginning of summer in New England is embraced and celebrated in a way that only those who have endured a long New England winter can appreciate. Especially this past winter, with its record-setting snowfall that continued into early spring.
One way to know that summer has truly arrived (because as New Englanders, we don’t believe it until we see it) is when you are suddenly surrounded by strawberries. A trip to the supermarket or farmers market will leave you dazzled by the tables piled high with pints and quarts of the sweet, red fruit.
I am powerless to resist such a display.
So what does a New Englander do with a quart of perfect, in-season strawberries? For me there is only one correct answer – make strawberry shortcake!
In my hometown of Westford, MA strawberry season is marked with the annual Strawberries & Art Festival on the town common. After browsing dozens of local craft booths, you join your fellow festival-goers in line to be handed your dinner-plate sized portion of traditional shortcake, topped with fresh sweetened strawberries and whipped cream.
Similar strawberry celebrations take place all over the region, and are a great way to get out and visit with your fellow neighbors in the (fingers crossed) sunshine, while enjoying a true seasonal treat. This year, armed with my own fresh berries, I set about making my first ever batch of homemade shortcakes. There could be nothing but the best for these premium berries!
Shortcake is a sweet biscuit and the process is similar to making scones, with baking powder on leavening duty. The butter helps produce a tender, flaky shortcake nothing like the ones you buy at the grocery store or make from a mix.
The next part is easy. Hull and slice your strawberries and place them in a bowl with some sugar to bring out their juices. Mash a few up if you like your strawberries saucy.
Once the shortcakes have cooled, ladle on the strawberries and whipped cream and dig in, preferably on your front porch (like I did) with a tall, cold glass of lemonade.
Summer has arrived!