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- What are Shortcakes and how are they different than Scones and Biscuits?
- 🛠 Tools Needed for Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes:
- 🛒 Ingredients Needed for Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes:
- 🍓 How to Make Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes:
- How to Store Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes:
- Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes FAQs:
- Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
I don’t know if there’s a better way to celebrate summer fruit than with this Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes recipe. The shortcakes are made with flaky sourdough discard biscuits, fluffy whipped cream, and juicy strawberries.
One of my favorite memories growing up was picking pints of bright red, heart-shaped strawberries in fields in North Carolina. My mom would make strawberry freezer jam with most of the berries, and with the remaining fresh ones, we’d eat sandwiched between store-bought angel-food cake cups and Cool Whip. While the cakes were nostalgic, the shortcakes never lived up to the quality of the sun-kissed fruit as the shortcakes would become soggy after a few minutes.
Thus, I wanted to create a homemade shortcakes recipe that would still keep things simple while highlighting the summer fruit, but have the flaky tenderness and utility of a biscuit that can hold its own. Flavorwise, using sourdough discard and buttermilk, you get a slight tanginess that complements the lightly sweetened berries and cream.
These are my ideal strawberry shortcakes, and I know you’ll love them when you make them!
What are Shortcakes and how are they different than Scones and Biscuits?
Like scones and biscuits, there are many different types of shortcakes and ways to make them, even though they use similar ingredients. However, without making things too complicated, shortcakes are generally slightly sweeter biscuits that are often split and filled with fresh fruit.
Scones tend to be triangular, sometimes made with eggs, drier, sweeter, and crumblier than biscuits. Although, I’ll note that my Sourdough Discard Blueberry Scones are neither dry nor made with eggs!
Meanwhile, biscuits (and let’s be clear, I’m speaking about American Southern-style fluffy biscuits- not thin European-style biscuits, which Americans would call cookies) are often made with buttermilk and not made with eggs.
The texture and technique of making these sourdough shortcakes leans more towards flaky, fluffy, and tender Southern-style buttermilk biscuits than scones. In fact, it’s a similar process to making my savory Sourdough Biscuits with Cheddar and Chives or Sourdough Sweet Potato Biscuits. However, I add more sugar to this dough since they’re a dessert after all.
Another popular version of shortcakes uses sponge cake or angel-food cake for a lighter and airy texture. This style of shortcake became more prevalent with the rise of store-bought shortcakes because they keep longer with added preservatives than biscuits, which are best consumed immediately after baking.
🛠 Tools Needed for Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes:
Click the links below for my tool recommendations.
- Baking Scale
- Box Grater
- I use a box grater to grate the frozen butter into the dough, which creates a light and tender biscuit. However, if you don’t use frozen butter or don’t have a box grater, you can find success by cutting the butter into small cubes and incorporating it in with your hands.
- Bench Scraper
- A bench scraper is one of the most useful kitchen tools that you can use for shaping sourdough bread, dividing dough, transporting herbs and small chopped ingredients, and cleaning your countertop. In this recipe, I use the bench scraper to help bring the otherwise sticky dough together and use it to fold the biscuit dough into layers.
- 2.5-3″ Biscuit Cutter
- I prefer the classic round shortcakes, so I use a round biscuit/cookie cutter for the shape. However, you can easily roll this dough into a rectangle and divide it into 8 square pieces with your bench scraper or a knife. That way, you get square shortcakes and there’s no need to re-roll the dough.
- Half-Sheet Baking Pan
- Pastry Brush
- Use a pastry brush to brush buttermilk on top of the shortcakes before baking. If you don’t have a pastry brush, use a clean paint brush or blot the buttermilk on with a paper towel.
🛒 Ingredients Needed for Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes:
Click on the links below for my ingredient recommendations.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Kosher Salt
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Granulated Sugar
- Unsalted Butter, frozen
- Sourdough Discard
- You can use active sourdough starter in this recipe; however, it is unnecessary since the batter isn’t leavened.
- If you don’t have a sourdough starter, learn how to make one in a week with my day-by-day guide.
- This recipe was made specifically for buttermilk biscuits for acidity and better flavor. Don’t substitute with milk or heavy cream or the biscuits will not turn out the same.
- Raw sugar, for topping
- The raw sugar (demerara or turbinado) will make the top crust shiny and a little more crunchy. It’s a nice trick for baked goods like these shortcakes or my Sourdough Blondies with Rhubarb & Almonds.
- Perfectly ripe strawberries don’t need much added sugar to macerate them. They’re already sweet enough! However, you may need to adjust the amount of sugar in the maceration if yours aren’t very ripe. Additionally, if your strawberries are on the verge of being overripe, adding some lemon juice to the mixture can be helpful to brighten the strawberries up.
- To prepare strawberries, I slice the green stems off and use a small paring knife to hull them (you can also insert a straw or use a strawberry huller too if you eat a lot of strawberries!). I like preparing fruit and find some comfort in the monotonous and repetitive task, but if this sounds excruciating to you, then you definitely don’t need to hull them!
- Granulated Sugar
- The granulated sugar is used to macerate the strawberries and bring out their juices. Like salt, sugar is hydrophilic and will draw out some of the excess liquid, which you want to keep and spoon over the shortcakes.
- Lemon Zest
- Vanilla Extract
Homemade Whipped Cream
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Granulated Sugar
- A pinch of salt
🍓 How to Make Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes:
Follow this visual and detailed recipe guide as you bake these sourdough strawberry shortcakes. While there are three components to making these sourdough strawberry shortcakes, they’re all quite easy, especially the whipped cream and macerated strawberries.
1. Mix the Dry Ingredients
Prepare a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, including:
- 300 grams of all-purpose flour
- 1 TBS of baking powder
- ½ tsp of baking soda
- ½ tsp of Kosher salt
- 50 grams of granulated sugar
2. Add the Butter
Use a box grater to grate 170g (¾ cup, 1 ½ sticks, or 12 TBS) of frozen, unsalted butter into the bowl of dry ingredients. After grating, it will look like a big pile of cheese in your bowl.
Use a fork to coat the butter in the dry ingredients.
Keeping all of your ingredients as cold as possible will lead to flakier and more tender shortcakes. Hence, the frozen butter. However, if you forgot to freeze your butter, you can alternatively cut refrigerated butter into small cubes and incorporate it in with your hands.
3. Pour in the Wet Ingredients
Whisk 180 grams of cold buttermilk and 120 grams of sourdough discard in another bowl or two-cup liquid measuring cup. I like to use the discard as a wet ingredient in this recipe akin to sour cream or yogurt.
At first, the discard will be clumpy, but will break down in the bowl as you whisk it together.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour all of the buttermilk/discard mixture into the dry ingredients. Use a fork to toss the dough together until you get many dough clumps forming.
The dough will still be quite dry and it may not seem like enough liquid, but I assure you it will come together in the next step as we fold it!
4. Fold and Cut the Shortcakes
Dump all of the shortcake batter onto a clean surface and gently pat it into a rectangle shape about one inch tall. Like I mentioned, it will still be quite dry and there will still be a lot of floury bits, which is normal.
Now, we will make a series of multiple folds in the shortcakes to create many flaky layers.
First, use your bench scraper to lift from underneath one half of the dough and fold it over the other half. Pat the dough into another rectangle. Then, repeat this process five more times.
Each time you fold and pat the dough, the dough will hydrate more and more and will increase the amount of layers in the shortcakes. Flour your hands or the dough as needed. I typically do five or six folds in total.
The final time, pat your dough to 1 1/2 inches thick. Use a floured 2.5-inch biscuit cutter to press down and cut out multiple shortcakes to place on the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the dough scraps together and cut out more biscuits to create 8-10 shortcakes in total.
Tip: don’t twist the biscuit cutter, or you’ll ruin your flaky layers. Instead, press straight down and lift straight up.
At this point, the shortcakes have been manipulated a lot and may have started to warm up, which we don’t want, as they may leak butter as they bake or not rise as tall in the oven.
For the flakiest shortcakes, freeze the shortcakes for at least 30 minutes.
I like to preheat the oven, macerate the strawberries, and make the whipping cream as the shortcakes freeze and bake, but you’re welcome to freeze the shortcakes ahead of time and bake them at a later point.
6. Topping and Bake
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC). It’s important to ensure your oven is fully preheated so that the cold biscuits hit the hot oven and create lots of steam, creating many flaky layers.
Once fully preheated, remove the biscuits from the oven and use a pastry brush to brush the tops with additional buttermilk. Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar for a crunchy topping.
Finally, bake the shortcakes for 20 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden brown.
7. Macerate the Strawberries
As the shortcakes bake, or about 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, macerate the strawberries.
Combine 2 LBS of hulled and halved/quartered fresh strawberries (or 908 grams) in a bowl with 25-50 grams of sugar (the amount of sugar depends on how sweet and ripe your strawberries are), the zest of one lemon, and 1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract.
Let the strawberries macerate for at least 30 minutes or until the juices are flowing and the strawberries are softened.
Instead of vanilla extract, you could use almond extract, rose water, or orange blossom water to flavor the strawberries. You could also use orange or lime zest. Fresh mint would also be a welcome addition.
Furthermore, no one is stopping you from adding some fresh rhubarb to the mixture or some lemon juice to brighten the strawberries more, especially if they’re not very ripe.
8. Make the Homemade Whipped Cream
Right before assembly, make the whipped cream.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer), whisk together 210g (one cup) of heavy whipping cream, 2 TBS of sugar, and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
Whipped Cream Variations:
I keep things simple with my whipped cream, but feel free to experiment with different flavors just like you can with my Sourdough Maritozzi whipped cream filling!
For example, vanilla extract is always welcome, malted milk powder is a great addition to whipped cream, or maybe a flavoring unexpected like orange blossom water would be good! Just make sure it balances out with the strawberries. Don’t go overboard!
To assemble the sourdough strawberry shortcakes, open the shortcakes in half using a fork. Then, spread the juicy strawberries and some of their juices on the shortcake followed by dollops of whipped cream.
For a crowd, you can make a quick assembly line so individuals can make their own shortcakes. This is always a fun idea for a summer BBQ or birthday party outside.
How to Store Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes:
Like buttermilk biscuits, these shortcakes are best eaten within a few hours of making. That’s when they’re their fluffiest and most tender.
I highly recommend freezing the shortcake before baking if you are short on time so that you can throw them into the oven before serving.
However, they will keep for up to three days covered. They won’t be as fresh, but the flavor will still be good. Reheat them slightly before serving so they’re warm.
Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes FAQs:
Can I use self-rising flour for shortcakes?
This recipe was developed using King Arthur all-purpose flour. Self-rising flour already has leavening agents included, so if you use self-rising flour, exclude the baking powder and baking soda from the recipe.
Can I substitute strawberries with another fruit?
Sure. Blackberries or raspberries would both be great summer fruits for these shortcakes. Blueberries will need extra sugar and will need to be crushed slightly to release their juices. You can also add rhubarb to the strawberries.
Can I use frozen strawberries?
You can use frozen strawberries, but be aware that they may leak a lot of extra juices as they macerate and thaw. I recommend straining some of the juices so you don’t have a big puddle of strawberry juice.
Do strawberry shortcakes need to be refrigerated?
The macerated strawberries and homemade whipped cream need refrigeration after serving. The shortcakes themselves do not need to be refrigerated.
Sourdough Strawberry Shortcakes
- Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the shortcakes.300 g All-purpose flour, ½ tsp Kosher Salt, 1 TBS Baking Powder, ½ tsp Baking Soda, 50 g Granulated Sugar
- Grate the frozen butter directly into the bowl and use a fork to distribute it until coated in the dry ingredients.170 g Unsalted Butter
- In another bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and sourdough discard until the discard isn't clumpy.Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour all of the liquid into the bowl. Use a fork to toss it all together until many dough clumps form. The dough will still be quite dry.180 g Buttermilk, 120 g Sourdough Discard
- Dump the shortcake dough out onto a clean surface and pat it into a rectangle about an inch tall.To bring the dough together more and for many flaky layers, use the bench scraper to lift one half of the dough up and over the other half. Pat the dough again to one inch tall and repeat the folding and patting process at least five times. Each time, the dough will hydrate more and increase the amount of layers.The final time, pat the dough 1 ½ inches high and use a floured 2.5-3 inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out the shortcakes and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Cut straight down and don't twist so the layers are not ruined.Re-roll the scraps and repeat until you have 8-10 shortcakes.
- For best results, freeze the shortcakes for at least 30 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Once preheated, remove the shortcake biscuits from the freezer and brush them with a couple of tablespoons of buttermilk and sprinkle the tops with raw sugar. Bake for 20 minutes until the tops are lightly golden brown.2 TBS Raw Sugar
Macerate the Strawberries
- As the shortcakes bake, macerate the strawberries. Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla extract in a bowl and let them rest for at least 30 minutes or until the strawberries are soft and the juices are flowing.2 lbs Strawberries, 25-50 grams Granulated Sugar, 1 TBS Lemon Zest, 1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
Homemade Whipped Cream
- Right before assembly, make the whipped cream.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer), whisk together the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.210 g Heavy Cream, 2 TBS Granulated Sugar, 1 pinch Kosher Salt
- To assemble, split the sourdough shortcakes open with a fork and spoon the macerated stawberries and some of their juices over the biscuits. Then, dollop with whipped cream.