By Cal Orey
Strawberry shortcake is a popular dessert. In the 20th century I savored this treat with store bought round angel cake, strawberries, and whipped cream from a can. It’s a dish with ties to the Deep South—a place where biscuits are common as strawberries are in Northern California, often from Watsonville. And pairing homemade biscuits and fresh strawberries from our Golden State is a way to make this shortcake be a cut above the cake in a box.
Several years ago, during the summer I was stung by a wasp here on the South Shore. It came from the under the steps under the deck. A pest expert came out to the cabin but he didn’t find anything. I insisted there had to be a nest. After what seemed like eternity, the man found a wasp shell the size of small watermelon. But the welt on my arm hurt for the afternoon. Strawberry shortcake (store bought pound cake) made me feel a bit better as did putting Manuka honey on it. (It’s a type of honey with medicinal effects for skin.)
This week I am not tending to painful stings but dealing with tree pollen and sniffles. I discovered eating local honey can help lessen symptoms of seasonal allergies. So, a visit to Grassroots and I now have local honey from Carson City. What’s more, I whipped up a 21st century old fashioned strawberry shortcake for old time’s sake with fresh biscuits made from scratch for a rustic, mountain appeal.
Tea Biscuits with Strawberries and Cream
1 ¼ cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon granulated pure sugar
¼ cup European style butter
½ cup buttermilk or organic half & half
Extra flour for biscuit dough
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh orange rind
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup vanilla gelato
Confectioner’s sugar (for dusting)
Real whipped cream (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine flour and sugar. Add cold cubes of butter. Mix well. Pour milk into mixture. Using your hands, mold dough into a ball. Place onto a floured cutting board. Knead dough and form into a rectangle. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter cut out biscuits. Place biscuits into 8” by 8” baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and rind.Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until light brown on top and bottom. Remove and cool for a few minutes. Slice in half. Place in small round or oval ramekin. Top bottom biscuit with a scoop of gelato (or whipped cream), put top on. Add strawberries. Sprinkle with sugar. Serves 4.
This sweet dessert pairs nicely with chamomile tea (it has anti-inflammatory benefits for stings and bites) spiked with honey and a bit of all natural lemonade. Flying insect to pesky pollen is part of the great outdoors. Using honey, however, can help make these outdoor challenges seem small and the strawberry dessert will help you exhale and enjoy, too.