“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s culinary arts program. Today begins a four-part series from the college’s “hot foods team,” which engages in dish-preparation competitions against other colleges that offer culinary degrees. Up first — team captain Sean Davies and his recipe for Strawberries and Biscuits.
When people think about strawberries, a lot of them consider shortcake.
Sean Davies considers biscuits instead.
“This is just a twist on strawberry shortcake using a buttermilk biscuit instead of the traditional sponge cake or angel food cake that would be used in a shortcake,” Davies said. “Biscuits go with just about anything. The fluffiness, the butteriness of the biscuit goes well with the nice, bright flavors of the strawberries. It’s a spring-inspired dish.”
Strawberries are easy enough to process for the dish. “You slice up the strawberries and coat them with regular granulated sugar,” Davies said. “They’re macerated, so they start to break down a little bit, the natural sugars kind of bleed out and it creates a kind of syrup.”
The biscuits take a little more time and attention.
“Biscuits are a very simple set of ingredients, but it’s all in the technique on how you mix them together to make a good biscuit,” Davies said. “You can overmix them and you’ll have a tough product, so it’s really all about just combining the ingredients until they form a nice wet dough and not really over mixing at that point.”
“Anybody can mix those ingredients,” Davies added. “It’s taking time to mix them properly and not overmixing them. You fold everything together and keep it nice and loose and well. You roll your biscuits out and cut them from there.”
The biscuits and whipped cream are made from scratch. When people are ladling strawberries for dessert, Davies believes it best to leave store-made shortcakes in the store. “This is a far superior dessert,” he said of his homemade version.
Strawberries and Biscuits
For honey buttermilk biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
3⁄4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted (reserve)
Melted butter, to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. Cut in chilled butter and incorporate into flour until mealy (it will look like coarse cornmeal). Mix milk and honey together, add to dry mixture until a sticky dough is formed (add the reserve butter if dough is too dry).
Be careful not to overmix — just bring the ingredients loosely together. Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll dough to 1⁄2-inch thickness, cut with a biscuit cutter into 3-inch rounds.
Place biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with melted butter and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 biscuits.
For strawberry topping:
3 cups fresh strawberries, tops removed
2 tablespoons sugar
Cut strawberries into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices and coat with sugar. Set aside.
For fresh whipped cream:
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (depending on desired taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whip cream with electric mixer — slowly at first, gradually building up to medium speed. Reduce speed and add sugar slowly. Add vanilla. Mix until whipped cream holds a peak form.
To assemble: Cut biscuit in half, place whipped cream on bottom half, top with one tablespoon of the strawberries, add more whipped cream on top. Put top half of the biscuit on this arrangement. Add a dollop of whipped cream and garnish with additional strawberries.