Re-dux Wednesday: Strawberry Shortcake

March 2, 2011

Hello, Readers!

I’m breaking something out of the archives for you today; hopefully this one will be new to many of you.  There are several reasons for the recycle: 1. It’s 60 degrees outside today and I’m whiffing just a little hint of Spring in the air. A girl can dream, right? 2. Decent strawberries are starting to pop up again in my grocery store, and while they won’t be truly mind-bending for another month or so, I’m still happy to see them. 3. I have no idea what the heck Harryboy got into, but he’s hurling more often than Old Faithful.  I’m too busy trying to save carpeting and furniture from further damage to be creative today. So please forgive.

ps: Anyone want a cat?

Much Love,


pps: There’s also a guest post at From The Monkey Bars today; Maria is also channeling her sweet tooth, so if you have a chance, pop on over and say hi!


Gramma Rhetta was most famous for her fried chicken and cornbread, hands down. My Mama always tells a story about a little neighbor boy, Jakey, who had some freaky kind of chicken radar; whenever Gramma got out the skillet and glugged some oil in there, Jakey would appear like magic. He’d hang around the screen door, sniffing through the fine mesh like a stray cat.

Of course, he usually snagged an invitation to supper. Gramma never could resist a stray, human or animal.

Once, in irritation, my mother snapped at him, “Jakey, why are you always hanging around when we have chicken? Your mama makes fried chicken, too, ya know!”

Jakey smiled sheepishly and said, “I like Henrietta’s chicken better. It’s cripper.”

Semantics aside, Jakey had a point. There wasn’t crisper chicken anywhere in the county.

But when it came time for dessert, Gramma had another tool in her arsenal. On very special occasions, when true pull-out-the-stops decadence was necessary, Gramma made Strawberry Shortcake.

Most people don’t understand the significance, and if you aren’t a Ludlam or a Stephenson (or married to one), you wouldn’t. Because a lot of people make Strawberry Shortcake. No big deal, right? Ha! What other people fail to realize is, their Strawberry Shortcake is shitty.

Strawberry Shortcake on those sponge cake rounds they sell at the grocery store? Shitty. Strawberry Shortcake on pound cake? Shitty. Strawberry Shortcake on Pop-N-Fresh biscuits? Double Shitty. Strawberry Shortcake with Reddi-Whip? Don’t get me started.

No, no, no. Gramma made a shortcake dough from scratch, so buttery and rich it almost oozed off the countertop. And then she’d sprinkle coarse sugar on the top of it, which made every bite crackle just so. And after it was baked and barely cool enough to handle, she’d split that sucker open and slather MORE sweet butter between the layers.

And then came the real cream, the kind from the local cows, whipped with vanilla and superfine sugar into frothy nirvana. No fake drek from a can for Gramma.

And of course, the strawberries. Gramma only made Shortcake in Spring and Summer. Only the best berries need apply. And she wasn’t stingy with them either. Actually, she wasn’t stingy with anything when it came to that dessert.

It was such a gut-buster, so overflowing with opulence, that we only ate Strawberry Shortcake once a year. Maybe twice, tops. And, the very best part?

Gramma let us eat Strawberry Shortcake for lunch. Just Shortcake. Because really, who wanted to eat anything else? My sister and I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

When Shortcake Day rolled around, my sister and I gorked around all morning, busting at the seams to tuck into a humongous, towering slice. Our enthusiasm was always contagious…by lunchtime, even the adults scrambled to the table.

Legend has it that Wild Uncle Johnny brought his first wife (then fiancee), Lou, over to Gramma’s house on Shortcake Day. Lou was completely baffled by all of the hoopla and pomp surrounding the event.

“For Heaven’s Sake,” she drawled. “It’s just Strawberry Shortcake.”

Everyone in the room stared at her, slack-jawed. *Just* Strawberry Shortcake? This girl clearly had mental deficiencies.

Now that I think on it, no wonder that marriage was doomed.

Strawberry Shortcake Days were some of the finest days of my life.

Alas, when Gramma died, her recipe went with her. I’ve tried to duplicate it many times, without success.

I still do make it, and the girls squeal and can’t wait to dig in.

But always, I sit at the table, stare listlessly at my plate and can’t much be bothered. Strawberry Shortcake just isn’t much fun without Gramma.

Some traditions are meant to die. I get that.

Still, once a year, I slap my game face on, pull out the razzle-dazzle, and get the girls hopped up on Shortcake Day bliss.  Some things are too precious to give up, even if the aftertaste makes you burn.

Strawberry Shortcake
serves 6

1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced
1/4 cup sugar

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
Sweetened whipped cream, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place strawberries in a large bowl; toss with 1/4 cup sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Stir in the milk and melted butter until the dough forms a ball.

Pat the dough out onto a clean surface to a 1-inch thickness.

Cut 6 circles in the dough with a round cookie cutter or cut into six free-form pieces, whichever you prefer.

Place the shortcakes on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.

Spread each cake with whipped cream and top with strawberries.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly March 2, 2011 at 7:01 am

Truth time. I’d never had strawberry shortcake on anything but the sponge cake rounds until last year. A friend made it for dessert and I couldn’t figure it out. “You mean, it’s a biscuit? A biscuit with sugar on it?” Strawberry Shortcake pleases the mouth, not the eyes!


Erica@PLRH March 2, 2011 at 7:33 am

Aaaahhhh… Strawberries are in peak season in Florida at the moment.

My mom always makes Strawberry Shortcake the same way your Granmma did. No spongey cake here! Now I know what we’re having for dessert tonight. Thanks!


bryan March 2, 2011 at 7:45 am

I am a biscuit guy for strawberry shortcake too, rockin’ recipe by the way.

Sorry about Harryboy! You are a kind person… the last time that Scooter threw up in the night I locked him in the bathroom and went back to bed.


Lori March 2, 2011 at 8:08 am

Nimbus woke us up at 4 this morning.

I’m already tired.

I might consider a trade…


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon March 2, 2011 at 8:13 am

Kitch, I love Gramma Rhetta stories. Enjoy the springlike temps…hope they head East.


Virginia March 2, 2011 at 8:32 am

That looks lovely! I am adding it to my list of desserts to try pronto.

My great-grandma (Mamaw) made chicken and dumplings every Thanksgiving that were to die for. Grown-ups would push small children in diapers out of the way to get a giant serving of Mamaw’s chicken and dumplings. I remember standing by her while she cooked it and she’d slip me pieces. When she died, the recipe went with her too, and I have tried for years to remake her chicken and dumplings to no avail. But, like you said, I have to continue the tradition and my girls LOVE it when they see chicken and dumplings on our weekly menu. In fact, we’re having it tonight.

Oh, and your Gramma Rhetta’s outfit in that photo is beyond fabulous!


Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts March 2, 2011 at 8:41 am

You do realize, don’t you, that your girls will remember your shortcake with every bit as much affection as you remember Gramma Rhetta’s? Hers was awesome partly because it was awesome, but also because it was hers. Give it thirty years and Miss D and Miss M will be saying to their own little rugrats, “No one made shortcake like my mama!”

PS – You’re right. 98% of shortcakes are shitty.


Katybeth March 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm

NO THERE NOT! Sorry, did not mean to shout but someone has to stand up for those little cakes.


Dana March 2, 2011 at 9:25 am

Gramma Rhetta sounds like quite a lady! It’s really nice that you are trying to keep the tradition alive for your girls, even though the recipe went with her.

A friend’s daughter (soon to turn 4) asked me to help her make strawberry shortcake for her birthday party. I’ve never made it before (it was the cutest thing ever). Maybe I’ll try your recipe, and see if I can channel some Gramma Rhetta.


Jenna March 2, 2011 at 10:21 am

Ooooh, I LOVE strawberry shortcake! I’m pretty disappointed your grandma’s recipe went to the grave–what a loss for humanity (and for me, more importantly)!
I requested strawberry shortcake for my birthday cake a few years ago. My husband gave it a valiant effort, but it was dry and cardboard-like. Yikes.
And last week I was guilty of buying those store-bought shortcake imitations, though I did use great strawberries and real whipped cream. But it’s only because I was making a huge dinner from scratch and didn’t have time for dessert (roasted garlic bread, artichoke olive dip, pasta quattro formaggi, sauteed asparagus, and lemon prosciutto chicken–it was heaven!).


TKW March 3, 2011 at 7:08 am

How on earth do you stay so slender, Miss Thang?


Belinda March 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Funny because this week, suddenly there’s an abundance of berries at my local grocery store. We’re big strawberry fans at my home; we like ’em dipped in dark chocolate. Yum.
So glad to hear you’re getting some warm weather!


Katybeth March 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I have always like those little grocery store shortcakes and redi-whip–and now you tell me they are shitty? I think your grandmother took her recipe to her grave on purpose–just to thwart you. Hey, I really like cripper chicken…did she happen to leave behind that recipe? Maybe when it really does get warmer in Chicago, I will try your shortcake recipe and do a taste test. : – ) and then I am covering it in redi-whip : /


Jennifer March 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I can’t get over how much your grandmother looks like mine. For real. And my grandmother was a great cook too.


lifeintheboomerlane March 2, 2011 at 5:18 pm

What a great story! I want her recipe for cornbread.


jacquie March 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm

your grandmother – as did mine – made proper strawberry shortcake. i was always confused by what others called strawberry shortcake – no it wasn’t. and it didn’t taste good on top of it. here’s to real strawberry shortcake, grandmothers and the traditions of spring.


Maria March 2, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Kitch, that picture is CLASSIC…The woman looks like she knows how to handle a kitchen, and more importantly, food strays who know a good thing when they see/smell one.

I, for one, LOVE strawberries and as we now have marvelous strawberries, see myself forced to try this recipe. I guess the shrink my lard ass diet will have to wait to begin, no?


TKW March 3, 2011 at 7:10 am

It’s all good Maria, because Shortcake Day comes but once a year. Even my ass can handle it.

And thanks…I love that picture too.


Heather March 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Seriously, Kitch?? I’m pretty sure I gained 10lbs just reading that! But, oh, how you took me back. My great-grandma used to make strawberry shortcake like that. She’d send us kids out to the field to pick the strawberries fresh (and eat our share too) while she worked fingers to the bone on the shortcake. And Redi Whip??? Hell No!!! Nothing but fresh whipped cream straight from my grandpa’s cows for us! Damn… Now I’m craving that succulent sweetness!!!


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri March 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I love the vibe in this post. Strawberries are a favorite here. I think I have a weekend project on my hands. Thanks Kitch!


julie March 2, 2011 at 11:00 pm

that looks so yummy! wow. I’m not much of a cook, but I may have to make an exception. The story is beautiful too. Sweet grandma.


faemom March 2, 2011 at 11:22 pm

I love good Strawberry Shortcake. My condolences on the loss of your grandma’s recipe.


Christine @ Coffees & Commutes March 3, 2011 at 5:04 am

I remember this post from the first time and I love it this time too. I think it’s because strawberry shortcake is MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE!!! Oh yes. My birthday is in June, so growing up it’s what my step-mom always made on my birthday. Yummy.


Barbara March 3, 2011 at 6:20 am

Must be something about grandmothers and strawberry shortcake. Mine made a killer one too!
Happy Spring!


Sherri March 3, 2011 at 7:40 am

Your stories replete with so much yummy food truly make my day a lot of the time! We have some warmth here too…. strawberry shortcake sounds about right this week :-).


Leslie March 3, 2011 at 9:30 am

My father has always been a bit incredulous re: sponge cake taking over shortcake’s roll. Lightly sweetened biscuits have always seemed to me the way to go, starting with ease – something I was especially glad for growing up at his house, where we baked in an imprecise stovepipe oven.
It always reminds me of May birthdays – but I’ll gladly welcome it back early! And as usual, happily lost in your story.


rebecca @ altared spaces March 3, 2011 at 9:46 am

My mother was the same as you Gramma. When we ate it, that’s all there was. Just the shortcake. No dinner. And on bisquits. With tons of butter.

I serve it to my kids with vanilla yogurt instead of whipped cream. If you get really great yogurt this is heaven. Butter, yogurt, strawberries…ooh.


Allison @ Alli 'n Son March 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Can I borrow your Gramma? Because this sounds absolutely divine. And surprisingly simple.

Linking up with me on Friday?


Mary Lee March 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I grew up on the spongy little cakes and never had real shortcake until I made it myself. I probably had two dozen recipes saved before I ever tried one. I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to taste like.. but I loved it. You’re right about the cakes. When I was a kid, the strawberries were smaller and sweeter varieties, so the cake was just there to soak up all that sugary juice.


Kiyah March 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm

My lifesaver. I was just trying to figure out what to make for Little E’s 2nd birthday dessert…and here it is. Organic strawberries are on sale down here, and this is one of my favorite desserts (and isn’t a child’s second birthday dessert all about the parents anyway? :)

I thought about tackling a homemade angel food cake, but you’ve changed my mind!


theUngourmet March 4, 2011 at 11:13 pm

I can’t even tell you how many times I endured that spongy grossness from the grocery store! Your shortcake story reminds me of my grandmother’s biscuits and gravy. Hard as I try, I’m never able to replicate the flavor and texture of her recipe.

Your shortcake recipe looks marvelous! :)

I was about to ask you if you wanted two cats!


Quay Po Cooks March 6, 2011 at 9:04 am

Your shortcake recipe looks like it is quite easy to make. I will definitely try making this.


Michelle March 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Aw, you’re making me desperate for Summer. (Like I wasn’t already!!!) Bring on the strawberry shortcake!
And the cat? Yep, I’ll take it. LOL I just told my husband a couple weeks ago that I dreamed a little kitten showed up and what could I do? :)


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