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The confident cook

Recipe: Making strawberry shortcake for a crowd is easy when you cut up one big biscuit

Strawberry shortcake for a crowd
Strawberry shortcake for a crowd Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe

While strawberries are here, don’t miss out on strawberry shortcake, and while you are at it, make enough for a crowd. This begins with a traditional biscuit recipe, but with a few twists. First, chill the butter and flour in the freezer for 30 minutes while you prep the strawberries. In the food processor, the cold butter stays in pieces when it’s cut into the flour. In the oven, the water in the butter releases little pockets of steam, which contribute to the flakiness of the baked biscuit. Add buttermilk and stir just enough for the dough to come together, then pat it into a quarter sheet pan (brownie pan) or a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

When it’s baked, cut the big rectangle into wide strips. Pile on the strawberries and their juices, so the juices soak into the bottom pieces. Set the lids on top, then slice into portions and garnish with generous spoonfuls of vanilla whipped cream.

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As for those strawberries, they just need a little sugar, squeeze of lemon, and some strawberry jam that contributes a deep strawberry flavor and a pretty glaze, so the berries look shiny and beautiful. Call your friends and neighbors for a celebration.

SALLY PASLEY VARGAS

Strawberry shortcakefor a crowd

Serves 12

BISCUITS

4cups flour
¼cup granulated sugar
4teaspoons baking powder
2teaspoons baking soda
2teaspoons salt
1cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices
Extra butter (for the pan)
cups buttermilk, or more if needed
Extra flour (for sprinkling)
1tablespoon milk
tablespoons turbinado sugar, cane sugar, or granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to blend them. Add the butter and toss with your hands to separate the pieces. Freeze the bowl for 30 minutes.

2. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch quarter sheet pan or baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each of the long ends.

3. In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter mixture until the butter is in small pieces that are slightly smaller than pea-size. Tip the mixture back into the bowl.

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4. Pour the buttermilk over the flour mixture. With a rubber spatula, stir gently until the dough starts to come together, adding more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if there are dry patches at the bottom of the bowl. With your hands, work the mixture lightly in the bowl until it comes together to form a dough.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Pat it into a flat rectangle. Transfer it to the baking pan and pat the dough evenly to the edges of the pan. Brush with milk and sprinkle with turbinado, cane, or granulated sugar.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the biscuit is golden brown. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool.

STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM

2quarts strawberries, halved, or quartered if large
7tablespoons sugar
¼cup lemon juice
¼cup strawberry jam
3cups heavy whipping cream
1tablespoon vanilla extract

1. In a bowl, toss the strawberries with 4 tablespoons of the sugar and the lemon juice. Stir in the jam and let the strawberries macerate for 20 minutes, or until they release their juices.

2. In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the cream with the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla until it forms soft peaks.

3. Using the parchment as handles, transfer the biscuit to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut the biscuit lengthwise into four even strips. Firmly holding the top of a strip and holding the knife parallel to the table, use a sawing motion to split the strips through the middle.

4. On the bottom strips, spoon most of the berries and all of their juices (reserve some berries for garnishing the tops). Set the biscuit tops over the berries. Cut each strip into four pieces.

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5. Set the filled biscuits on individual plates or on a platter. Top each with a generous spoonful of whipped cream and garnish with a few strawberries. Sally Pasley Vargas


Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at sally.p.vargas@gmail.com.