This is the first installation in my Farmers Market Finales, a series meant to capture the impromptu nature of the farmers market. This dessert features strawberries, and partners it with musky lavender and sweet blackberry honey.
While I did see a few different stone fruits at the market, our local strawberries have just started to arrive. Because their season will end long before cherries and apricots, I chose a basket of tiny ultra sweet strawberries from a nameless booth. It could have been children picking out of their back yard, who knows, but these berries were so sweet I’d buy them off the side of the road.
Strawberry shortcake seems a bit cliche, I know. But by adding lavendar and honey to the dish, we are making it a bit more elegant and using two more wonderful offering from the market. Fresh lavender was stripped form the stem and folded into the shortcake. By using honey rather than the usual granulated sugar in both the shortcake and the whipped cream we add a depth of sweetness to this dish.
When choosing a market honey, I look for the darkest honey possible. The darker honey was gathered from plants that take more mineral from the soil, not only making them more beneficial to our bodies, but much deeper in flavor. My favorite Seattle honey is from the Tahuya River Apiaries, an area on the Olympic Peninsula. Their honey has a deep wild quality that I have found unmatched in this area.
The scone recipe I chose is super simple, using a healty dose of cream mixed with our honey to sweeten. The “dump and mix” method used to mix this dough is as easy as it sounds. The dry ingredients are placed in a mixing bowl and whisked together to thoroughly distribute the ingredients. The cream, honey, and a little vanilla are mixed in a second vessel, then poured into a well in the center of the dry ingredients. To mix, you need to use your hand. When I teach this method in classes, I have the entire class make their bear claws, and growl. It works better if you growl, I think.
The bear claw is pushed into the liquid and dry ingredients until your fingers touch the bottom of the bowl. Then with strong circular motions, mix the wet and dry ingredients together in 10 strokes or less. To avoid over working this dough, you want to mix as quickly as possible. Once the batter has formed a sticky mass, you are ready to bake.
To make things even simpler, to shape the shortcakes I pinched off the dough into round lumps, dividing the dough into 12 pieces. This dough is a bit too sticky to roll and stamp, but just right to use your fingers to portion the cakes. If you want your cakes to look a bit more uniform (I know you are out there) try using a round portion scoop, sometimes labled cookie scoops or ice cream scoops with the ejection button. Fianally, the cakes are brushed with a little melted butter before being baked for added richness.
The strawberries were split in half and tossed with a little granulated sugar. A hint of sugar brings out strawberries flavor and makes them glossy and pretty, but feel free to leave them as they come if you like.
The honey cream is simply whipped cream sweetened with honey rather than sugar. I recommend mixing the honey and cream, then chilling it, if you have the time. You will have a denser whipped cream if this is done. Using a light honey is fine for this, but the flavor of a darker honey will really come through nicely. The light honey I used was faint, and a little hard to detect. Although, my eaters had no problems cleaning their bowls. If anything, using a light honey will still taste like sweet whipped cream!
The start to finish time was under an hour, and a minimal amount of equipment is needed, making this ellegant twist on the classic strawberry shortcake appropriate for almost every kitchen.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
The buds stripped from 8 lavender stems
1 1/4 cups cream, cold
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
approximately 2 tbsp melted butter
1. In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, place the flour, baking powder, salt, and lavender buds. Using a whisk, mix the dry ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Using your hand, create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and set aside.
2. In a seperate vessel, place the cream, honey, and vanilla extract. Using a fork or small whisk, mix the wet ingredients until the honey has completely mixed in with the cream.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the center of the dry ingredients. With your hand formed like a bear claw, push it into the mixture all the way to the bottom. Your fingers should be touching the bowl. Using strong, confident strokes, mix until a sticky dough forms. Scrape the dough from your hand and add it back to the dough in the bowl.
4. Using your fingers, pinch off pieces of dough just a bit bigger than a golf ball. Place them on a sheet pan, preferable lined with parchment. Brush the tops with the melted butter, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. When done, the tops of the shortcakes will be golden, and the center will be set. To check, give the shortcakes a little squeeze. If they give as though the center is unbaked, then return them to the oven. If you are still uncertain, do as I sometimes do and break one open.
1 cup cream, cold
1/4 cup honey
1. In a bowl, whisk the honey and cream until peaks form.
To assemble the shortcakes
Place 2 shortcakes in a medium sized dish. Cover with sliced strawberries, and add a dollop of honey cream. Enjoy the assembled dessert right away, or store the components separately for a day.