As I watched my mother flip through a dessert book on Mother’s Day, I was hoping to myself that she would pick an easy yet impressive dessert. One I could whip up perfectly. One that would show off my culinary skills. One that would wow everyone else at our celebration. She closed the big cookbook, looked at me, and asked, “How about strawberry shortcake?” What? Mom’s never even mentioned liking that dessert before. Surely she wanted a triple chocolate ganache cake. I asked again. She answered, “Strawberry shortcake! It just sounds so good. I used to love it.” The decision had been made, and I was hesitant. In my opinion, strawberry shortcake is not fancy. It’s not complicated. It’s never the star of a menu. It doesn’t look beautiful. It’s not anything new. However, this was the best dessert mom could order this year, because it’s exactly how she taught me to live.
She practices living humbly and reminds me not to strive so hard to reach perfection that I lose sight of who I really am. So often we (and I think women in particular) are focused on perfectionism to a degree that when we mess up or aren’t exactly a certain way we have a hard time coping. Our homes, our meals, our families must be just perfect or (gasp) what will everyone else think? Our pastor preached recently about how perfectionism can lead to a distorted picture of who you really are, and that’s not how God calls us to live. He calls us to live humble lives, vulnerable and real, in order to create real relationships and live according to His word. Mom had it right all along, and whether she knows it or not, she helped keep me accountable.
Strawberry shortcake is a humble dessert. It’s real, it’s messy, and it’s super easy to make. Nothing too fancy, nothing too impressive. But the beauty behind all of that is when it’s in it’s true simple form, it tastes heavenly. It’s loved for exactly what it is.
And so am I. Thanks, mom.
Prep Time: 20 min. Cook Time: 15 min.
For the cakes:
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg, beaten
For the strawberries:
1 quart strawberries, quartered
1/4 cup sugar
For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 400°. In a small bowl, mix together the strawberries and sugar. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble cakes.
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add the butter and continue to pulse until all butter is cut in. Add the buttermilk and almond extract, and continue to pulse until a dough forms. Do not over mix.
Turn the dough out on a floured surface, and knead for about a minute. Roll into a sheet about 1/2″ thick, cut into 2″ width rounds (I used a cocktail glass for this) and place them on a silicone mat.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush some of this egg wash on the tops of the biscuits. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cake tops are golden brown and cooked through.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and continue to beat until hard peaks form.
Cut each cake in half, and assemble with berries and cream between layers and on top.
Makes a dozen shortcakes