For years, I have been misinformed about shortcakes. When I was little, I was under the impression they were those little, round sponge-cake things you could find at the grocery store. Every summer, without fail, they would show up right next to the big display of strawberries and I would beg my mom to buy them. Imagine my surprise then, as an adult, to learn those little sponge cakes were not shortcakes at all! No, in fact, shortcakes are a completely different form of pastry.
So what is a shortcake? The answer is historically somewhat debatable, but a shortcake, at least by today’s American standards, is generally a sweet biscuit. It is typically made with flour, sugar, butter or shortening, baking powder, milk or cream, salt and sometimes egg. These ingredients are worked together in the same fashion as a biscuit dough then either rolled out and cut into rounds or dropped onto pans for baking. The origin of the name “shortcake” is mostly unknown, with some people claiming it’s from the cake’s “short” stature while others think it’s because of the fat or “short-ening” used to make it.
What’s not debatable about berry-topped shortcakes is that they are delicious. But behind almost every delicious dessert recipes lies calories. So how can this dessert fit into a healthy eating plan? Easily. Start by using the bare minimum amount of fat to make the shortcakes and then cut the portion size. By serving just a half biscuit, instead of the whole biscuit, you’ll slash calories and fat. No one will miss that other half because it will be topped with fresh, sweet berries and a dollop of creamy, vanilla-infused low-fat Greek yogurt.
Food safety tip: When cooking with raw eggs wash hands and work spaces thoroughly after use. Rinse your hands under warm water, then lather with soap, scrubbing all parts of your hands and between your fingers for at least 20 seconds, then rinse off with warm water.
- 9 ounces flour (about 2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder (aluminum-free)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 ounces cold butter, cubed
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 pint blueberries
- 2 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter, a fork or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse, mealy mixture.
- In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and 1/2 cup buttermilk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg and buttermilk mixture. Mix gently with a fork until dough comes together, do not over-mix.
- Shape dough into a disk and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently roll to 3/4-inch thickness. Flour a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter and cut dough into rounds, gathering scraps and re-rolling as needed.
- Place the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining buttermilk. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until tops are golden.
- In a small bowl, stir together vanilla extract and Greek yogurt. To assemble, top ½ biscuit with ¼ cup berries and 1 tablespoon yogurt.