Perfect Shortcake


This recipe came to me by a familiar route. My mom works with Gayle, who's an excellent, effortless cook with style to spare. Gayle made this shortcake and brought it to work, My mom died over it ("I've been looking for the perfect shortcake forever!") and Gayle brought her the recipe. My mom made it for me, I died over it, and my Mom brought the recipe over that afternoon. I've made it twice in the last 5 days. The first, with peaches, raspberries, and whipped cream, was for friends. This morning, they were biscuits with butter and jam, and shared with my niece Hazel.

I have always made classic biscuits for a shortcake base. I'm sure I'll do that from time to time. But the crumb on these little wedges is far superior for shortcake, soaking up the bright berry juices, and just sweet enough. And they couldn't be easier--a couple whirs in the food processor, then pressed into a cake pan and sprinkled with coarse sugar. I'm really into broiled eggs for breakfast lately, with chorizo or little coins of golden zucchini and lots of bubbly cheese. But this morning, I woke up thinking about shortcake. And the kids were glad.

Gayle's Family Shortcake Recipe
I suppose you could form these into about 6 individual cakes, but the dough is quite wet, so I'd advise sticking with a cake round for ease. I used a sharp knife or bench scraper to score the dough into 8 wedges before baking baking it. The lines will be faint when it comes out of the oven, but still very helpful for slicing it.

2 c. flour
2 Tb. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 cube) cold unsalted butter
1 egg
2/3 c. half-and-half
coarse baker's sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 450 and butter an 8" round cake pan.

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into about 8 pieces, add to flour mixture, and pulse until pea-sized clumps form.

Beat egg and half-and-half together and add to flour mixture. Pulse just until combined. Mixture will be quite wet. With floured hands, gather into a ball and press into prepared pan, building up the edges a little bit. Sprinkle liberally with baker's sugar and bake in preheated oven for 15-18 min until lightly browned and just done in the center. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing into wedges and removing from pan.