April 12, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcakes

Apparently my current version of "nesting" in anticipation of baby #2 mostly involves baking. I think at least some of this is that as the mom of a toddler, anything I spend hours cleaning or organizing is going to quickly get undone or destroyed by my 3 ft tall whirling dervish in about two seconds. But baked goods? Those can be put in a tin and stored safely on top of the fridge, where he can longingly look up at them but not pull them down and demolish them. Yet.

It's finally rhubarb season again, one of my favorite fruit seasons! My husband has strict instructions to buy at least a pound of it every time he sees it at the store, no matter how much is already in said fridge or freezer. I want it ALL before it disappears!

This week, I decided to pair the delicate pink stalks with their classic BFF strawberries and English cream scones to make a shortcake-style dessert or snack. Sometimes the simplest things are the best, right?

I threw in a little whole wheat flour because I'm *that* kind of mom, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the little bit of whole grain actually made these even more tender than usual. Especially the re-rolled ones! I also followed Joy the Baker's advice to grate the butter instead of cutting it in with knives or a pastry cutter. So much easier and it works like a charm.

Oh, and apologies for the less-than-stellar photo. Toddler naptime can be very short some days (I blame a growth spurt) and the sky was cloudy and grey during the only window I had to snap this shot. I'm trying to let go of perfection all the time and just go with things.


Rhubarb "Jam":

Wash 1 pound of rhubarb, cut into 1/2" or 1 cm pieces. Place in medium-sized pot, add a couple of splashes of water or the juice of 1/2 a lemon and cook over medium/medium-low heat until it starts to break down. Add sugar to taste (I like mine less sweet, so I use only about 1/4 c. or 50 g of sugar). Continue to cook, turning down to low if it starts to boil too hard or you're worried about it scorching on the bottom, until rhubarb is completely broken down and has thickened. Stir in a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you're a fan. Any leftover rhubarb is excellent stirred into plain Greek yogurt or oatmeal.

Macerated Strawberries:

Wash and thinly slice ripe strawberries. Mix with a little lemon juice or vanilla extract and a sprinkle of sugar and stir well. Let sit while you make your scones.

Cream Scones (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (70 grams) whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
3 tablespoons (40 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea or table salt
5 tablespoons (70 grams) chilled, unsalted butter, grated
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

3. Stir in grated butter until evenly distributed.

4. Stir in the heavy cream until a dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer the dough and all the leftover dry and flour-y bits at the bottom of the bowl to a clean countertop. Knead the dough by hand just until it comes together and forms a rough, sticky ball, about 5 to 10 seconds.

6. Pat the dough into a 3/4 thick square or rectangle on a lightly floured surface. For extra flaky layers, either fold into thirds (like a sheet of paper before you put it in a business envelope) or fold in half onto itself 2 - 3 times, patting the dough down into the correct thickness again after. Use a biscuit cutter to form scones, re-rolling scraps until dough is used up (although I only tend to re-roll twice).

6. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until the tops are light brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Place on a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

To Assemble:

Slice scones/shortcakes in half, slather with butter and rhubarb mixture, top with macerated strawberries. Eat at once. I won't judge you if you don't share, promise.

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