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Of Strawberries

Jul 30, 2009 11:20 AM | 0 comments

Strawberry shortcake is one of my favorite desserts. So I thought what better way to celebrate the end of the strawbery season than to search for, and create one of the strawberry shortcake recipes from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It seems that Brooklynites were such fans of all things strawberry that there were hundreds of articles about this fruit -- ranging from strawberry festivals to recipes for strawberry custard, strawberry sponge, iced strawberries and strawberries and claret. But I was searching for strawberry shortcake, and the one that caught my eye was from June 2, 1901, and titled simply,  "This is the way to make Real Strawberry Shortcake"

The accompanying article lamented the scarcity of genuine shortcake. "Restaurants and domestic servants alike serve up a tasteless parody of the original, compounded of dry-as-dust sponge cake, associated on the most unfriendly terms with rows of distinct berries, the whole thinly veiled with whipped cream.  Why this concoction shold be called "shortcake" remains one of the culinary mysteries."  So here is the "real" recipe for your pleasure, illustrated by yours truly.  Maybe you could give it a try and let us know how it turns out.



           Old Fashioned New England Shortcake

  • Take 2 cups of flour 


  • Two teaspoonfuls of baking powder
  • One teaspoon of salt



  •  Two Tablespoonfuls of lard, and sweet milk enough to mix to a soft dough.  "Lard! Who uses lard Well, O.K."
  • Roll this on the board, handling as little as possible, and bake in a round tin plate   "You have NO idea, how glad I was that my twins were asleep at this point"
  • Bake about twelve minutes in a hot oven. " Hello, how hot!?  I guesstimated 350 degrees"
  • When done the cake should be a delicate brown on top and bottom.
  • Have ready a box of berries, cut up lightly to avoid large pieces, and plentifully covered with powdered sugar.



  •  Reserve enough of the largest berries to decorate the top of the cake. 


  • Take the cake from the oven, and, with a sharp pointed knife split into two layers.
  • Butter the lower one quickly, and cover it with the sweetened berries.
  • Put over the top layer, butter it, and arrange the whole berries over the top. "I skipped that part, the top was a little lumpy"
  • Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar, and serve hot.
  • Cream may be passed with the shortcake or not, as desired.                                                  


My results --  well it wasn't bad at all. My colleagues here in the Brooklyn Collection liked it, although I did hear someone say that the shortcake was a little "chewy".  But that could have been due to the fact that I was making it at 11:00 at night and was severely sleep-deprived.  One last note -- I tried it one more time using Pillsbury biscuits instead. I know it's cheating but I needed another batch to illustrate.  Some people said they liked the Pillsbury version better.   Go figure!