Pulling off onto the unpaved, bouncy road suddenly woke me from my afternoon car nap. Cars lined up and down a small driveway, pulling off onto the grass as though they were parallel parking with imaginary lines as their guides. Minivans scattered as far as the eye could see. We were all here for the same reason, to pick berries, as many as our little buckets could hold.
The farm was actually a privately owned home with a berry farm attached. We made our way past the eternal line of cars and arrived at a canopy hanging (more like dangling) over a woman sitting comfortably in her lawn chair, handing out plastic buckets for our haul.
I walked alone to find my treasures, taking in the aroma of the berries, the warmth beating down on me from the sun, and the overall thrill of imagining the countless ways to consume these beauties. I dreamt of sweet, sticky strawberry jam stretching across layers of a delicate angel biscuit, eating them in the morning in a cereal bowl filled to the brim with berries, a dash of cream and sugar, or my favorite, as dessert. Strawberries left to sit alone, unharmed with a little bit of lemon juice and sugar atop shortcakes, which are still slightly warm from the oven, and a dollop of sweet, vanilla-scented whipped cream on the side for good measure.
And as I strewn fresh berries over warm shortcakes, the aroma brings me back to those moments of picking berries in May. This recipe preserves the moment of late spring and the memories it shares.
Recipe: Serves 4
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of chilled heavy cream
Melted butter, for brushing
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Switching to a spoon, stir in the heavy cream and gently mix until the dough begins to hold together (the dough will still be very wet at this point.)
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly flour the top of the dough. Form the dough into a 4 ½ x3-inch rectangle, about 1-inch thick (if the dough sticks to your hands, just coat your fingers in flour and continue forming the dough.) Cut the dough in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise to form 4 rectangular biscuits.
Arrange biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Brush the tops with butter. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
1 pound of fresh strawberries, cleaned, and hulled
2 tablespoons of sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon (or 2 smaller lemons)
Cut the strawberries in half for smaller berries and quarter any larger berries.
Toss berries, sugar and lemon juice until berries are coated with the juice and sugar. Let the berries macerate for at least 10 minutes.
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk whipping cream, sugar and vanilla together on medium-high speed until soft peaks form
Carefully split biscuits with a serrated knife (they are quite fragile) and brush with more melted butter. Fill the biscuits with strawberries and any liquid from the berries. Serve with whipped cream.