I have lived in this tiny (population around 1700) village since 1982, which used to have a robust farming community, but now seems to be more and more a sidebar to our more integrated ( i.e. less affluent) communities north and south. Because I had children that needed to be driven to outlying schools, and had a farm, I didn't really have time to connect with the community. As my children grew, I focussed more on my herb, baking, and catering businesses, so I wasn't as involved in the village as I might have been. I did start one of the first farmers markets in the state, but my focus was more on the family and my interests. I used to hear about the Women's Club, but, since I thought one needed to be invited, any announcements in the local paper tended to slide away. Was I ever wrong, sorry to say. The meetings are open to all, and they have some fabulous speakers! I hope in the future to try to remember to swing by and check out some of their Wednesday offerings.
~ But in the meantime, I was asked by a member to help out with their free Thursday Community Dinners with a dessert. I was thinking chocolate for days, and then a supermarket sale on strawberries changed my mind. While strawberries may not be seasonal eating just yet, I couldn't resist the sale, and so strawberry shortcakes came to mind - and here they are, tender, slightly sweet buttermilk biscuits topped with juicy strawberries and homemade whipped cream. As I walked in with the platters, my neighbor shrieked " You brought strawberry shortcakes?" I nodded and had a moment of panic - was I supposed to bring something else?
Glancing around, I saw beautiful plated salads, and at least a dozen stews with delicious sounding names (scrawled on a piece of masking tape), and lots of brownies. I should've stayed to investigate, but it was the end of a long day, so I dropped off these gorgeous shortcakes and retreated to a lovely hot bath and early bedtime.
This makes a baker's dozen (13 servings)
2 plastic boxes of strawberries, sliced and sprinkled with sugar and a few squeezes of lemon juice, allowed to sit at room temperature for at least two hours.
Set oven to 425F, and line two baking sheets with fresh foil or parchment.
4 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
8 T. sugar
2 t. grated lemon peel
1/2 t. or so freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. kosher salt
2 T. baking powder
1 stick ( 8 T.) cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
Combine the flour, sugar, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mix, then add the butter and process until the butter is well incorporated. Mix the eggs and buttermilk in a small bowl, then add to the flour mix until it forms a ball. It should be sticky, so if it isn't, add a tablespoon or so more of buttermilk until it looks right. Using an ice cream scoop of normal size, scoop out balls of dough, six to a baking sheet, with seven on the second baking sheet - just space the balls of dough a little to make room.
Sprinkle the dough balls with sugar and bake , one sheet at a time, about 15 minutes. The shortcakes should be golden on top.
Remove to cool, then move the shortcakes to a cooling rack. When cool, slice in half with a serrated bread knife.
The whipped cream:
One 16 fl. oz container whipping cream
1 T. cornstarch
4 T. confectioner's sugar
Place a clean mixer bowl in the fridge for 15 or more minutes. Remove and add the cream, cornstarch, and confectioner's sugar and whip until the cream forms soft peaks. Serve on top of the fresh berries. ( the cornstarch acts as a stabilizer, so the cream will not get watery). Serve at once.