This easy strawberry shortcake recipe has three simple components for stunning gourmet results! Tender sweet biscuits are layered with ripe berries and silky whipped cream for the ultimate dessert.
Table of Contents
When strawberries are in season, whip up this gorgeous dessert! This strawberry shortcake has three distinct components. The outer layer is a sweetened biscuit dough that quickly bakes into a tender mini cake with crisp edges. Slice them right down the center and fill each to your heart’s delight.
Fresh strawberries are macerated with golden honey, mint, and tart lemon juice to create a lightly sweetened syrup. Homemade whipped cream locks the berries and biscuits into a cake sandwich. This recipe can be made in advance to assemble right before serving for the best taste. I opted for individual portions so it’s easier to serve than making one big cake.
- Strawberry Filling: A simple combination of sliced berries, mint, honey, lemon zest, and juice.
- Shortcake: A rich sweetened biscuit dough cut into small rounds for individual portions. Bake until golden brown with tender centers and crisp edges.
- Whipped Cream: Heavy cream infused with granulated sugar and vanilla, whipped until medium peaks form.
Make the strawberry filling
Use juicy strawberries at their peak ripeness for the best flavor, and toss them with honey, lemon, and mint. The concentrated sugar molecules coating the berries will draw moisture out of the cell walls.
Over time the berries release their natural sweetness and infuse with the citrus and mint flavors in a process called maceration. I always perform this step first to give the sugar a longer duration to work its magic, at least 30 minutes.
What is shortcake?
The base is made from a sweet, crumbly biscuit-like dough or sponge cake. When I worked at a European bakery in high school, we always went the biscuit route. It’s fast to make, and I enjoy a little crunch. No need for a cake pan! To make it more indulgent in taste, I add eggs and cream.
The shortcakes are a perfect light golden-brown color, slightly crispy on the outside, and have a very soft interior crumb structure. It’s a sturdy yet tender cake with chunks of fruit layered on top. Plus, the biscuit does a great job soaking up the sweet juices from the berries for even more flavor in each bite!
Make the biscuit dough
To create the shortcake, use the same technique as you would a savory biscuit recipe. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl, then break down cold pieces of butter into the mixture. Baking soda is a chemical leavening agent allowing cakes to rise quickly in the oven.
The egg and cream are whisked together, then mixed with the dry ingredients to form a dough. The eggs help leaven, bind, and provide richness. Heavy cream ensures a hydrated flour and tender cake. Form into a 7-inch round disc, wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the butter to firm up. This helps the cakes hold their tall and rounded shape, making them easy to cut and fill.
Shape and bake the shortcakes
Place the refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface to roll it into a 1-inch thick disc. I use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to make the individual cakes. Bake the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a preheated oven at 375°F (191ºC) until golden brown.
The process takes about 15 minutes. Cool them on the baking sheet for 10 minutes for gentle carryover cooking. It’s best to serve them at room temperature so the cream does not melt.
Make the whipped cream
I use my go-to whipped cream recipe to make the filling. I use heavy whipping cream because it contains more milk fat, about 36%. This allows the cream to hold its fluffy shape when air is incorporated. The mechanical act of whisking traps air into the cream, adding lightness, volume, and stiffness.
For these shortcakes, mix the cream with granulated and vanilla extract. I like to whip until soft peaks form, then briefly whisk until medium peaks form. The way to check is to dip the whisk into the whipped cream and lift it straight up. The cream should hold its shape, with the top of the peak curling over on itself. If you over-mix, it will curdle and eventually separate into butter and buttermilk.
How to make strawberry shortcakes
Ensure the shortcakes are completely cooled before filling, or the whipped cream will melt into a puddle. Slice them down the center crosswise. Add a generous amount of berries and sauce on the bottom cake, top with whipped cream, then the other half biscuit. You can add a light dusting of powdered sugar for extra sweetness if you’d like.
To switch up the classic version of strawberry shortcake, try these delicious variations:
- Flour: Use white whole wheat flour to add more texture, nutty flavor, and nutrition from the ingredients’ ground fibers. Gluten-free flour can also be used in the recipe, which will yield a delicate structure.
- Fruit: Add other fresh berries like blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Slices of peaches or nectarines. Add grated orange zest and juice instead of lemon.
- Sweetener: Instead of honey, use granulated sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, agave, or pure maple syrup.
- Cream: Flavor the cream with almond extract for a hint of sweet, nutty flavor. Add lavender extract or peppermint for an herbal taste. Coconut cream can be added instead of heavy whipping cream for a dairy-free alternative.
- Toppings: Drizzle on some caramel or chocolate sauce, a sprinkle of powdered sugar, and chopped or sliced nuts for extra crunch.
- Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or raspberry swirl ice cream to the cakes
- Make it a Nutella strawberry shortcake
- Add grilled pineapple for a tropical twist
- Add cream cheese frosting for a cheesecake flavor
- Make stabilized whipped cream if you plan to serve the dessert later to prevent weeping
Frequently asked questions
Enjoy strawberry shortcake right away or within an hour of assembly. If not eating immediately, refrigerate for a few hours before serving. The taste is best fresh because the cake gets soggy over time. Prepare the individual components and assemble the cakes before serving to prevent fogginess.
Store-bought biscuits can be used to make a quick shortcake. However, they will not be as sweet. I recommend brushing the tops with butter and sprinkling sugar before baking for extra sweetness. They can also be sprinkled with powdered sugar. Purchase the largest-sized biscuits to make the shortcakes. Puff pastry cups also make for a quick and easy crispy substitute.
Cakes are light, airy, and have a more springy texture. Shortcakes are more crisp and tender, with a biscuit-like texture from adding solid butter fat.
Crucial tips for tender shortcakes
Breaking the butter into pea-sized pieces into the flour creates a light and flaky soft crumb. The fat coats the proteins in the flour, which limits the formation of the protein bonds. Mix the ingredients only until just combined, then chill the dough before rolling. This allows the butter to solidify and for the gluten to relax so, it’s easier to handle. Roll and cut the dough only once. The less you handle the dough, the more tender the shortcake!
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- 1 pound strawberries
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon thinly sliced mint
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Prepare the Strawberries – Rinse and dry the strawberries. Remove the stem, and quarter the berries.
- Make the Filling – In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir in the mint. Cover and refrigerate. The berries will release their natural juices and infuse the flavors of the mint and lemon.
- Heat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position. Heat the oven to 375°F (191ºC).
- Mix the Dry Ingredients – In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add the Butter – Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes, then add to the flour mixture. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to break the butter into pea-sized pieces.
- Add the Wet Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream and eggs. Make a well in the flour mixture. Pour the cream mixture into the flour mixture. Mix together with a fork until large clumps begin to form.
- Form the Dough – Use your hands to gently form the dough into a ball. Flatten into a 7-inch disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll and Cut the Dough – Lightly flour the work surface. Roll out the dough into a 1-inch thick disc. Use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to make 8 shortcakes. Place the rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle sugar on top.
- Bake the Shortcakes – Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. Cool the pan of shortcakes on a wire rack for about 10 minutes; remove from the pan once cooled.
- Make the Whipped Cream – In a large chilled metal bowl, add the cream, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and fluffy medium peaks form. When the whisk is lifted from the bowl, the cream should hold its shape with the top of the peak curling over on itself.
- Slice the cooled shortcakes in half. Spoon the strawberries over the bottom halves, add whipped cream, and place the other half of cake on top. Add a dollop of whipped cream and strawberries on top.
- Flour Substitution: White whole wheat, whole wheat, or gluten-free can be used instead.
- Make-Ahead: Dough: Wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Baked Shortcakes: Store in an airtight container 1 day in advance, or freeze for up to 1 month, defrost, and reheat. Strawberry Filling: Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Whipped Cream: Refrigerate for up to 1 day, although it may need a gentle whisk if it loses some volume.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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