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An All-American 4th of July: Strawberry Shortcake

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I think my favorite holiday may be the 4th of July. It gives me a chance to not only run around grilling to my hearts content without people thinking I am a mad man playing with fire and knives, but it gives me a chance to delve into what is considered to be true-blue (or true red/white and blue) American cooking. It's fun and that really is what cooking should be all about.

In this series called An All-American 4th of July, we will have some fun with some true American cooking. It will be tasty! It will be easy and it will give you a chance to celebrate the birth of the greatest nation on the face of this earth while filling your stomach with delicious morsels of Americana!

There is probably not a truer American dessert than good ol' Strawberry Shortcake. The problem is, not many people actually know how to make this dessert properly. First of all, most of the shortcake I have eaten in my lifetime has been nothing short of culinary crap and yes, I am even referring to some of the most expensive restaurants on both coasts. Proper shortcake needs the density to support both the whipped cream and the strawberries and sad to say, some of the so-called top Chef's in America are absolutely clueless in this respect. The only shortcake to be used with both cream and berries is buttermilk shortcake.

Ingredients for Buttermilk Shortcake (makes about 6 shortcakes depending on size)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Into a medium bowl combine the flour, butter, sugar and baking soda. Using a pastry blender (also known as a pastry fork) cut the butter into the flour until it resembled coarse crumbs. (Yes, you can use a mixer for this but the texture of the shortbread will be more dense than light.)
  3. Into the bowl stir in the buttermilk until it forms a dough.
  4. Remove the dough to a floured surface and gently knead it for about 1 minute (it will be sticky, so don't worry).
  5. Pat the dough (DO NOT ROLL IT) into a disc and using a round cookie-cutter or glass, cut out circles (size depends on you). Continue this step until the dough is used up and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Place in oven and bake 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."

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