Mixed Berry Shortcakes
It was definitely mercury in retrograde recently when I got a phone call at 8:20pm, while we were having dinner at home, from a restaurant I’d reserved a table at, asking if we were showing up for our 8pm reservation. I was sure I had reserved for the following night, but – nope – I erred and our reservation was for that evening. (Fortunately, the restaurant has a steady walk-in crowd so the table didn’t sit empty. Still, I felt terrible.) We did go the next night, but that same day, I was typing this recipe up and my blogging platform asked me to log in again, which I dutifully did, and then it proceeded to erase the entire post, including the recipe.
With my head on the verge of imploding, I decided to go for a walk, then head back a little later and get back to rewriting everything up from scratch. A few people told me mercury was in retrograde, so, of course, the moment I returned, they started doing construction upstairs, so was subjected to the sounds of jackhammering while trying to fill in all the ingredients in the recipe plug-in I use, so the recipes are printable, and to make sure I got all the ingredients and so forth in the right place, and the conversions.
By the time evening rolled around, some other neighbors decided to have a party and their voices were so loud, they could be heard all the way down the block. (So much for les américains having the loudest voices in town anymore.) What made up for it were these Mixed Berry Shortcakes, which we had for dessert that night.
On the upside to the unpleasantries that day, I scored several baskets of strawberries at the market that morning, that were very ripe, to the point of where they wouldn’t have lasted another day. That’s often when fruit tastes the best, and with a use-it-or-lose-it mentality that haunts me whenever I have good fruit in my kitchen, I decided to make a batch of Mixed Berry Shortcakes. I also had some artisanal butter on hand that had a slight funk to it, that I wasn’t sure what to do with. I normally don’t mind that kind of thing – animal products that aren’t industrial sometimes have that flavor, which wasn’t so terrific tasting first thing in the morning on my toast. So I used it to make the shortbread biscuits.
What makes these shortcakes extra special is the strawberry coulis, an uncooked almost-purée of berries that gets juicier and more flavorful the longer it sits. It ensures lots of delicious sauce, which’ll moisten everything and assure that the biscuit below the fruit won’t be dry, as can happen if you only use sliced berries for shortcakes. With this shortcake recipe, you can use any mix of berries that you want, but I had all these strawberries and got them macerating as soon as I could, which I did, then rolled out my biscuits, and baked them. They didn’t rise as high as normal, possibly because of the farm butter, or I could blame that mercury retrograde-thing (in my post on Peach Shortcakes, you can see how they normally look), but with the crunchy topping, there were zero complaints, including from me, who pilfered one as I was rebuilding and rewriting this post. And not to worry; the flavor of that off-kilter butter got lost in the mix.
Kirsch, a clear distillation of cherries, magically augments the flavor of berries and summer fruits. However a reader nicely wrote to me that they didn’t detect much cherry flavor in the pricey bottle. (And she used a good one.) So don’t expect a full-on cherry flavor, but like the unseen powers (or planets) that remove blog posts and delete recipes, and make reservations on the wrong night, it works in mysterious ways, so I stand by it.
After putting a cap on the day, and the dessert, hopefully the planets will align in the future for you to make these truly wonderful shortcakes, a jumble of fresh berries, softly whipped cream, topped with a flaky, crunchy biscuit. I can’t say it’ll improve everything in your life, but if the stars align (or not), I’m confident this will be a hit with everyone who spoons it up.