If I had to pick one dessert that says summer it would be shortcake. It was the star attraction at more than one gathering I attended this summer. Which just goes to show great minds think alike. What better way to celebrate the season's best ripe fruit than pairing it with tender shortcake and a pile of softly whipped cream?
These tender shortcakes get a punch of flavor from a good dose of orange and lemon zest and a delicate crunch from a little yellow cornmeal and a generous coating of buttery sugar on top. While strawberry shortcake tends to be the norm, I used peaches because they won't be around much longer. But any seasonal fruit will do. A mixture of fresh berries is equally tasty. If using berries mash a few to release some juice and sprinkle with a bit of sugar to make a nice sauce.
If you are lucky enough to have any left-over shortcake it is good spread with butter and jam for breakfast or an afternoon snack. But don't count on left-overs as the tender shortcakes tend to disappear fast with or without fruit and whipped cream.
A microplane grater will yield finely grated zest, but I find you don't get very much zest from each piece of citrus. If I want the zest to be more substantial I prefer to use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to remove large strips of peel being careful not to remove any bitter white pith, then finely chop with a knife. Rub the sugar and zest between your fingers to release the fragrant oils into the sugar. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients.
Use a wooden spoon to stir together the dry ingredients with the whipping cream just until the dough comes together. Knead the dough in the bowl a few times and then form into small to medium-size balls of dough.
makes 10-12 shortcakes
2/3 cup (130 g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (80 g) yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy cream
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350℃ (175℉). Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Put 2/3 cup (130 g) granulated sugar in a large bowl add orange and lemon zest. Rub the sugar and zest between your fingers to release the fragrant oils into the sugar. Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
Add 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy cream to the dry ingredients, stir just until combine. Knead the dough in the bowl a few times until the dough comes together. Be careful not to overwork the dough or the shortcakes will lose their tender texture.
8 peaches or nectarines
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (15 g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream, 1 tablespoon (15 g) granulated sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Beat with a whisk or a hand mixer until the cream holds soft peaks. Slice the peaches into a bowl. Add a little sugar if desired. Slice a shortcake in half horizontally and put base on a plate. Fill with peaches and whipped cream, top with shortcake biscuit. Serve immediately.