This classic recipe for Strawberry Shortcake is just like the kind your grandma made! A thick, sweetened shortcake with golden flaky layers, just like biscuits. Topped with the BEST Strawberry Topping and a mountain of whipped cream. Stop buying those weird yellow sponge cakes at the store. This is the real deal! I will show you exactly how to make it.
Start by making the Fresh Strawberry Topping.* Cover and set aside to thicken. You can serve it room temperature or chill it in the fridge.
Make the shortcake. In a large bowl, add 3 cups flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 2 tablespoons baking powder. Whisk it together.
Use a knife to chop 3/4 cup COLD butter into small chunks.
Add the butter to the flour mixture and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. See photos. You want to end up with a crumbly mixture and pieces of butter about the size of a pea.
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, add 3/4 cup COLD buttermilk**. Whisk the large egg into the buttermilk.
Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the flour and use a rubber spatula to stir it together and create a shaggy dough. It's ok if all the flour is not incorporated.
Cover your hands with flour and knead the dough a few times right there in the bowl, smashing in any loose flour with your hands. If it is too dry to come together, add 1 tablespoon cold buttermilk or 1 tablespoon ice water to get it to come together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (I love my pastry cloth). Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 9x13 inches, it doesn't have to be exact. Fold the dough in half, then in quarters, then again. Pat the dough out with your hands to make a smooth top, and use the rolling pin if necessary to roll it gently into a rectangle about 1 and 1/4 inch thick.
Dip a 2 and 1/2 inch biscuit cutter into flour and use it to cut the dough. Do not twist the biscuit cutter, it inhibits rising in the oven. Just push straight down.
Re-roll the scraps and repeat.
Place the shortcake in a buttered cast iron skillet or greased 9x9 inch square baking pan. I prefer to make them in a pan that has sides; this helps the shortcakes rise upward instead of falling on their sides in the oven. You want to place the shortcakes snuggly together, either touching or about 1/2 inch apart. They will help each other rise.
If you have time, I highly recommend freezing the whole pan of prepared shortcake for about 20 minutes. Cold dough going into a hot oven is how you get perfect flaky layers. While you freeze the dough, preheat the oven to 425 for at least 20 minutes.
Just before putting them in the oven, brush the top of each shortcake with buttermilk or heavy cream. This will help them brown. Sprinkle generously with sugar (I like chunky raw sugar for a nice crunch).
Bake at 425 degrees F for about 18-22 minutes. You will know they are done when the tops are a deep golden brown, the edges of the biscuits have firmed to the touch, and the bottoms are starting to brown. If you still can't tell, gently split one of the shortcakes and lift it up to see the center. If it is at all gooey, put it back in the oven. If they are not done but the tops are getting too brown, top with foil for the last few minutes of baking.
Meanwhile, make the whipped cream. In a large bowl or stand mixer, add 2 cups of cream, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat on high speed for 2-5 minutes, depending on the power of your mixer. You will know it is ready when the cream has thickened, you can see peaks forming, and when you lift the beaters out they hold their shape in a nice curl. Keep refrigerated if you are not ready to serve right away.
Assemble the shortcakes while they are still warm: split a shortcake in half, top with strawberries and whipped cream, top with the other half, then top with more strawberries and whipped cream.
Make ahead: You can make and freeze the unbaked shortcakes once they are shaped. Seal well and freeze for up to 2 months. Bake straight from frozen: bake at 450 for about 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 and bake for another 15 minutes.
*Of course if you want to simplify things you can skip the Fresh Strawberry Topping and just add a little sugar to your strawberries to let them macerate. You will need 6-8 cups of strawberries. Stir in about 1/2 cup sugar, and let sit for 20 minutes before serving. **You can use cheater buttermilk for this recipe. Add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, and then fill to the 3/4 cup line with cream (preferable) or half and half. You can use whole milk in a pinch. Stir and let sit 5 minutes before using in the recipe. ***Heavy cream is sold near the milk in the dairy section. It is not coffee creamer. Sometimes it is labeled whipping cream, ultra heavy whipping cream, etc. These names differentiate fat content levels. For making whipped cream, buy the cream with the highest fat content you can! The cream I use is 36% fat content.