It’s Canada Day, and today marks Canada’s 150th year as a country. As usual, my family is celebrating with a barbecue in my parents’ back yard. We’ll have the usual yummy fare, steaks and lamb chops on the barbecue, corn on the cob, and assorted salads and side dishes. I’m hoping Dad makes his absolutely amazing buns!
Dad’s main task, however, is going to the farmer’s market to pick up the strawberries for the strawberry shortcake. I’m hoping he gets lots, because today is the Battle of the Shortcakes! I’ve made 2, a cake style and a biscuit style, and we’ll see which one people like best.
The cake for the cake style one came from Caroline King’s Cookbook. I used the Foundation Formula for Simple Butter Cake. The chapter on cakes is a great read, if you’re interested in cake baking. Like the rest of the book, it gives a general breakdown of types of cakes, how they differ, and how to make the most basic version of each type. It then moves on to variations and other recipes based off the basic formula. Ms King gives good instruction for how to make different kinds of cakes, and WHY things are done the way they are.
One point she had about adding the eggs was of interest to me, since I’m not that fond of having to separate the eggs, and fold in the beaten whites separately.
“Almost all recipes will direct you to beat the yolks and whites of the eggs separately, and this method is correct if you desire a very light, fluffy cake that is to be eaten the same day it is made. For a richer, but not quite so light a cake, beat the yolks and whites together until they are light-colored and thick. This process will produce a cake that will keep moist and in good condition for several days. Should you, however, desire a very rich cake, and are not particular about it’s being extremely light, drop the eggs into the batter, one by one, without beating them at all. Then beat the batter strenuously. The cake will be fine-grained and delicious, if not so feathery and light as when either of the other methods are followed.”
Who knew that HOW you add your eggs can make such a difference.
Since I made the cake yesterday, I beat the whites and yolks together, and the cake looks good. The recipe is as follows.
Foundation Formula for Simple Butter Cake
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 level teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
I followed the basic steps for a cake, as no instructions are given, other than several pages of how-to before the formula is provided. I creamed butter and sugar, added the eggs, then alternated with the dry ingredients and the milk. I baked my layers (one small, one big) for about 30 and 40 minutes respectively. The variation to make it into a strawberry shortcake says to bake it in 2 layers, cool slightly, and put together with crushed and sweetened berries, or other fruit.
The biscuit style recipe cake out of Bettina’s Best Desserts. I didn’t notice until this morning that Bettina also has a recipe for “the cake strawberry-shortcake. Bettina doesn’t think it compares with the other kind, but everybody to his own taste.” Bettina is often fairly opinionated! If I’d noticed that she had both, I might have used both of her recipes, but there will be more occasions for strawberry shortcake, so I’m not too worried! Bettina’s biscuit style recipe is below.
Bettina’s Strawberry Shortcake (four portions)
(The joy of the strawberry season.)
- One and one-half cups flour
- Three level teaspoons baking-powder
- One-fourth level teaspoon salt
- Three level tablespoons lard
- One-half cup milk
- Two cups strawberries
- One half cup sugar
Mix and sift the flour, baking-powder and salt. Cut in the lard with a knife. Slowly add the milk until a soft dough is formed. Toss upon a floured board. Pat to the thickness of one inch. Cut out with a large cooky cutter. Place side by side on a tin pan. Bake in a moderate oven for twelve minutes. Split and arrange the berries, mixed with the sugar, on top and between the shortcakes. Serve with cream.
I patted mine into 2 big layers that I baked at 350°f for about 20 minutes. They will be assembled later.
Tonight is the big bbq, so once the shortcakes are assembled I’ll take pictures and report back with peoples opinions of the 2 kinds.
Caroline B. King was a Domestic Science Lecturer for the University Extension Society of Philadelphia. Her cookbook was published in 1918.
Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron wrote a series of cookbooks together. Bettina’s Best Desserts is one of these, and was published in 1923. Elizabeth Colbourne did the illustrations, including the lovely one at the start of this post.