Strawberry Shortcake

Happy Independence Day everyone!  I usually spend my Fourth celebrating with my family on the lake, setting off a few fireworks and then heading back for some games.  Yes, games.  Fourth of July in my family is more like an annual family reunion, and what would a family reunion be without games?  What kind of games?  Various relay games of course, as well as the egg toss, which always results in someone covered in egg.  It’s usually one of the adults trying to show off.  The most important game that draws all ages, from the young children to the grandparents, is the girls vs. guys “tug-o-war.”  It’s always a struggle for who will win, and always bragging rights for the next year.  The games are followed by dinner and lighting off some coordinated fireworks.  I look forward to every year.

Unfortunately, I won’t be attending this year, because of my new job and no vacation pay.  That is okay, though.  Instead I’m at home.  Therefore, as my tribute to the grand old red, white and blue, I made strawberry shortcake topped with a few blueberries, because what could be more American than delicious red strawberries and sweet  shortcake?  Its no “tug-o-war” and fireworks, but it’s yummy and perfect to take for fireworks downtown.

So grab some strawberries and knead some sweet biscuits together.  Don’t worry, you’ve got time to make this.  You’ll be able to throw this together in under an hour, with plenty of time to catch the fireworks.  You can also make it ahead of time and let the shortcake cool and take it with you to the lake or the beach or whenever your celebration may be.  So go enjoy your Fourth with a little bit of sweet strawberries and fireworks.

Strawberry Shortcake

adapted slightly from Joy the Baker 
 
topping:
1 lb strawberries, rinsed and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 
 
shortcake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons (divided)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of cold butter, diced
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, plus 2 tablespoons (divided)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
 

Slice the strawberries and place them in a bowl.  Sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.  Then drizzle on the 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.  Toss the strawberries to coat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the egg, 1/4 cup milk, yogurt and vanilla.  Dice the cold butter and add it to the flour mixture.  Integrate the butter into the flour mixture, by rubbing it between  your fingers and into the flour (see my pie dough recipe for more instructions).  Add the wet mixture to the dry and combine it into a dough.  I like to use my hands for this, but you can use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  Knead the dough together and then flatten it in a rectangle about 1 inch thick.  Cut it into 8 squares.

Place the squares onto a baking sheet.  Brush the squares with about 2 tablespoons of milk and then sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar on top.  Place the shortcakes into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Slice or pull a shortcake in half.  Toss the strawberries to coat them and then spoon the mixture over the shortcake.  Make sure to drizzle some of the juice onto the shortcake.  Top with whipped cream if you have it or a few blueberries.  Serve and enjoy.

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