Tuesday, May 25, 2010

With milk on top

Allow me, please, to introduce you to Strawberry Shortcake With Milk On Top, your new best friend.


I grew up eating strawberry shortcake like this, for supper. It’s simply biscuits, berries, and milk—a heartier, more filling version of the gourmet, whipped creamy affair, but still glorious indeed, simple and lush, eaten with complete abandon since there was nothing else offered to fill up on.


It went something like this: one of the first hot evenings of the summer would find Mom standing at the kitchen sink in her empire-waist sundress, her thick hair frizzing about her head and her glasses slipping down her nose, rapidly topping a big bowl of berries, just-picked from the garden out back. The tray or two of biscuits that were baking in the oven would be making the kitchen even hotter (and everyone crankier), so she’d declare we’d eat out at the picnic table and Jennifer, get the old plastic tablecloth out of the drawer, and Will someone come fill up the water glasses? Dad would come into the kitchen to carry out the heavy tray loaded with filled glasses and bowls and clanking spoons, and the rest of us would trail behind, bearing milk, sugared berries, and the trays of piping hot biscuits, the back door slamming shut behind us.


We’d crowd around the wooden picnic table, bare knees bumping, the evening breeze tickling our sweaty necks. After whizzing through a rendition of Johnny Appleseed, we’d fall to, crumbling biscuits into our bowls, smothering them with berries and drowning the whole mess in cold milk. The simple food quickly filled our tummies and muted our tempers, but still we’d eat, gorging on the glorious sweetness until our stomachs distended and our eyes glazed over.


Summertime bliss, that’s what strawberry shortcake suppers are. Try it for yourself and see!

(Note: it may be cultural, this love of dousing baked goods with milk. One of our favorite lunches, growing up, was peanut-butter-and-jelly-bread with milk on top. Even now, my brothers like to put their shoofly cake or apple pie in a bowl and then pour milk over top. So I don’t know, maybe you have to grow up with this kind of food in order to enjoy it. On the other hand, maybe not?)


Strawberry Shortcake With Milk On Top

The original recipe calls for all white flour, but I use half whole wheat. Whatever you do, keep it simple—which is the whole point of summer suppers, after all.

For the biscuits:
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup milk

Mix together the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, cut in the butter. Stir in the milk. Drop spoonfuls of the batter (it’s thick like cookie dough) on to a greased cookie sheet. Liberally sprinkle each biscuit with more white sugar. Bake the biscuits at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

For the strawberries:
1-2 quarts strawberries, washed, topped, and sliced
1/4 - ½ cup sugar

Mix together and set aside till ready to serve.

To serve:
Crumble one or two biscuits into a bowl. Spoon strawberries over top. Drown in milk. Devour. Repeat.

About one year ago: Ranch Dressing.

15 comments:

  1. Your summer memories and your shortcake both are wonderful. I think the pouring milk on top is cultural. My sister's husband poured milk over his cake and we all thought it the oddest thing ever. She tried hard to break him of that habit, but he persisted in secret. He is now her ex. I'm not blaming the milk thing, I'm just saying...

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  2. The one food I dreaded most for all my growing up years was Strawberry Shortcake. Well maybe Blueberry Soup was worse. Everyone else was thrilled beyond measure. Your description fits our family to a T. All but me. I HATED soggy cake. As an adult I have developed a tolerance for it. Your recipe is much more to my liking. Not so sweet.

    Isn't 'drowning' everything in milk a Pennsylvania Dutch thing?

    Aunt V.

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  3. We had this for supper once or twice a week, from the first strawberries to the last peaches. We called it "biscotl," which is a word I've never heard spoken outside my family. Best suppers ever!

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  4. But, um, something about all this makes me sound FAT. sk

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  5. I grew up with strawberry shortcake done the same way minus the milk...we had whipped cream (real) on top...YUMMY!!!!!

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  6. I know your mom wasn't FAT, and...hmm...were your berries producing on the hot days of summer? ks

    (nevermind, you probably had the late-bearing kind!) Oh, and here's another thing--I think I taught your mom to feed you p.b. and jelly bread with milk poured over--ask her!

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  7. I don't know if it's a totally Pennsylvania Dutch thing, although my milk pouring is not as pervasive. I did learn to love my cornbread soaked in milk from my grandfather, who is solidly southern. I'll have to experiment with more baked goods.
    [Don't tell my grandmother, but I really don't like her strawberry shortbread, which is basically multiple disks of baked pie crust layered with sugared strawberries. Not a fan. Biscuit shortbread is what it's all about.]

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  8. I'm surrounded by people who like to "slop up" their baked goods but I don't like it. I'm not even crazy about putting milk on dry cereal.
    We usually use whipped cream for our strawberry shortcake. I sometimes make biscuits like this, sometimes make a short cake. My grandparents eat this as a supper when the berries are in, but we never have. I might just follow your example (with whipped cream for me!).

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  9. I'm Southern (from Texas) and when I was a kid my dad would take a great big glass, put saltine crackers inside and cover it with buttermilk. He'd smoosh it all up and eat that as a snack. Not exactly the same thing, but this reminded me of that. It also reminds of tres leches cake, which is very popular down here. I'm thinking of trying this with the blackberries I got at the farmer's market today, but I have absolutely no idea how it will go over with the family.

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  10. These look so yummy! The raw milk we get from a local farm would be so good on top! I'll have to try it. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  11. Finally someone who knows what strawberry shortcake should be! Yum! I do a sweeter biscuit, in older cookbooks you can still find shortcake recipes. And yes milk AND whipped cream.

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  12. Soooooo many of you are missing the point. Whipped Cream, and Ice Cream turn Strawberry shortcake into Dessert. . . Milk makes it the main course. Now if I could just figure that out with something Chocolate. . .

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  13. This story sounds like my mother's childhood. So I grew up with her making and eating it the same way, although her recipe was the Bisquick shortcake. I've never heard of anyone else eating strawberry shortcake with milk on top. I was born and raised in Pa, but have lived in the South for many years and no one eats it like that here. They look at you like your crazy. They just don't know what they're missing out on!

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