Friday, April 2, 2010

Favorite Recipes: Grandma Georgia's Strawberry Shortcake

A few months ago, the boys and I were making biscuits. As we worked together, cutting out little circles of the sticky dough, James paid me one of the nicest compliments I've ever gotten.
"Mommy," he said, "you're not a store cooker. You are a home cooker."

O how I love that boy.

He's right, you know. I would much rather cook up something homemade than buy that same something from the store. There are lots of reasons for this, not the least of which is the stories, the memories and the history that is a part of the homemade things we make in our kitchen. It's like I said here, cooking is about so much more than eating, isn't it?

It's one of the reasons I love this strawberry shortcake recipe. I got it from my mother-in-law, who got it from here mother-in-law, who got it from her mother. That was Great Grandma Sundberg. But I didn't know Grandma Sundberg. I knew Grandma Georgia, and so I call this her strawberry shortcake.
When we make, it gives me a chance to tell my kids a little bit about the great grandma they never got to know. I didn't know her all that well either, but what I knew I loved. She let me call her grandma from the beginning. She asked me to. I thought that was sweet.
I liked all her stories about growing up in Iowa, and moving to England with her husband and the Air Force. I love the story of the telegraph she sent her husband, out in the field, when Aaron's Dad, Scott, was born. And then how an officer friend arrived at the hospital with martinis and cigarettes to celebrate. So 1950s.
Some old pictures we have of her show her always dressed beautifully with her hair done--even with little kids running around. She seemed like a classy lady.
And she was a good cook. My mother-in-law still uses a lot of her recipes.
And I'm glad some of them have been passed down to me.

Like the strawberry shortcake. Now some people like their strawberry shortcake with biscuits. But I prefer cake. I like the moistness, the soft crumb of a cake mingling with those strawberries and the cream. It's better, I tell you.
But a cake that will be covered in strawberries and cream must not be too delicate. It has to stand up for itself. This cake does. But it is still moist. The top gets just the lightest bit of crunch to it, while the inside stays soft, yet firm.
It is good enough to eat on it's own. It's terrific at breakfast with a cup of coffee.
However, to fully appreciate its greatness, you must take it to the next step. So after the cake has cooled a bit, whip your cream and slice your strawberries.
And please, I beg you, do whip your cream. Homemade whipped cream is essential. It's also magical. James was do delighted as he poured the cream into the mixer.
"I've never made whipped cream before. I never even knew you could make whipped cream."
It's a wonderful world out there, James, when you are a home cooker.
So please take the extra 2 minutes and whip your cream. Every one will be glad you did.
And after that cream is whipped, cut a generous slice of cake and then cut it in half. Cover it with sliced strawberries and a healthy dollop or two of whipped cream.
It is the perfect Easter dessert. Light, sweet and full of the goodness of spring.
Grandma Georgia's Strawberry Shortcake

1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups milk

Cream butter and sugar
Sift all dry ingredients together and then work into butter and sugar with a fork.
Add enough milk to soften. Batter will be thick.
Grease a 8 1/2 by 11 baking pan and pour batter into it.
Bake in a moderate oven (350) for 30 - 40 minutes

Let cake cool.
Serve with strawberries and whipped cream.

I used a metal baking pan. Glass would probably work fine, too.
You could use a slightly bigger pan, but your cake would not be as tall. The cake is pretty rich. You don't need huge slices.
It is also perfect for 4th of July served with blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream.


Andrea said...

thanks so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Greta, I am making this now to take to our Families Easter BBQ. Can't wait to see how it turns out!
Sarah Bush

katie said...

I love strawberry shortcake anyway it is made. This will be added to my recipe box and tried soon after we visit the strawberry fields in Carlsbad.

Joanne Hardesty said...

Aw, I miss Aunt Dodo (Grandma Georgia)! My mom (Grandma Georgia's sister, otherwise known as Aunt Mimi or Muriel to her friends) had a similar recipe, although you cut the butter and flour together, rather than cream it. I was just telling a friend about that recipe last night - it's the best!