Strawberry Fields Forever

It's strawberry time here in Florida. Every year, from December through March, Florida strawberries dominate the markets throughout the United States. They’re ubiquitous in grocery stores, packed in their plastic containers. We Floridians also find these, plump, juicy, ripe and sweet little red orbs in profusion at our local farmers’ markets and in the roadside stands that dot the landscape along our roads. For the more adventurous, there are numerous U-Pick farms, where you can dive right in and pick bushels of your own ruby red jewels.

For the strawberry farmers in our state, it is a multimillion dollar business. For the home grower, it can be a delicious and rewarding endeavor. Strawberries can be successfully in grown in garden patches as well as in pots and hydroponic containers. There is almost nothing in this world as satisfying to the senses as biting into a just-picked strawberry, still warm from the sun, with rivulets of sweet juice dripping down your chin. I know what I'm talking about. My father used to plant a small strawberry patch in his garden each year. His berries were the sweetest and most succulent I've ever had. I remember how he used to laugh as he peeked out of our kitchen window to see all the neighborhood children sneaking into the garden to swipe a few!
Plant City, Florida, is the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World." Over five thousand acres of strawberry crops are planted there annually. It is also the home of the Florida Strawberry Festival. The festival dates all the way back to the early 1930's, when members of the Plant City Lions Club envisioned an event to celebrate the bountiful harvest of Florida strawberries. This festival features agricultural and horticultural exhibits, crafts, social events, contests, parades, top-name entertainment and of course, lots and lots of strawberries! The Florida Strawberry Festival is held every year from the last week of February through the first week of March. If you ever get the opportunity, you should check it out. It represents Florida history and culture at its finest.
When Elly, of Elly Says Opa! announced that she was hosting a new blog event called Eat to the Beat, I was intrigued. The theme of the event is to make and post about a food or drink that somehow relates to something musical, such as a song, an album or a band. As a musician with a passion for food, I loved the idea of fusing the two together. As a Floridian, I knew that I had to submit an entry that highlighted the Florida strawberry. I chose a dish that showcases the strawberry in its purest form - Strawberry Shortcake. The song I chose to pair it with was a natural - The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever, by Lennon and McCartney. Have a listen:

"Let me take you down
cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever"
There are more different strawberry shortcake recipes out there than I can possibly count. Google alone lists almost 60,000 of them! The major differences you will find among recipes are the type of "cake" and the kind of creamy filling used in the dish. Some call for an angel food, pound or sponge cake for the base. I prefer the traditional biscuit shortcake. It is firmer, thus, it doesn't fall apart when you put the berries inside. Also, it isn't as sweet as a regular cake, allowing the strawberries to be the star of the show. I like to adorn my shortcakes with nothing but pure and rich, freshly whipped cream. This is the kind of shortcake that I grew up on, and I'm sticking with it!
Sometimes, I make individual shortcakes that more closely resemble actual biscuits. Other times, I make one great big shortcake and stuff it with berries and cream until it is overflowing. One year, I did this for my brother's birthday. My strawberry shortcake is his favorite, so I made him a giant birthday cake version of it. It was incredibly messy, but also incredibly delicious! For this event, I decided to make the individual shortcakes, just because I felt it would be easier to photograph that way. Between you and me, I'd rather have it the other way. You can cut much bigger pieces!
The key to a great shortcake is a light, flaky biscuit base. The key to that, is a recipe that incorporates a substantial amount of butter into the dough. It's those tiny bits of butter that melt down during baking and give the shortcake its melt-in-your-mouth quality. What elevates a mere strawberry shortcake into a higher realm of greatness is using the freshest, sweetest strawberries that you can get your hands on. Although, they didn't need it, I added a few teaspoons of orange liqueuer to my berries to give them a little zing.
I like to use White Lily brand flour whenever I make biscuits or shortcakes. It is a "soft" flour that has a lower protein and gluten content, which makes it ideal for this kind of baking. I've also used their shortcake recipe this time. There are countless other excellent recipes, but White Lily is synonymous with Southern baking, so I though it was a fitting choice. I must tell you, I often use Bisquick's recipe for shortcake too. It is fast, easy and produces a really nice result. I know that it's a shortcut, but sometimes we all need shortcuts. PLEASE DON'T JUDGE ME!
Anyway, I hope the next time you see Florida strawberries in your market, you'll think of me and hum along to Strawberry Fields Forever, while making some amazing strawberry shortcake!


Florida Strawberry Shortcake
Adapted from the White Lily web site
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. orange liqueur
2 cups White Lily Self-Rising Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup half and half plus a little more for brushing tops of shortcakes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
In a medium-sized bowl, combine strawberries with the 1/2 cup of sugar and orange liqueur. Let it sit while you make the shortcakes.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine flour and sugar. Cut butter or margarine in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk half and half and egg together until blended. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture to make a stiff dough.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 8 to 10 strokes. Roll or pat dough to 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a biscuit or cookie cutter. Place shortcakes 2 to 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops lightly with more half and half. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Place shortcakes on individual serving plates. Split shortcakes in half and spoon strawberries and cream between layers. Replace top layer and spoon on additional strawberries.
Top with copious amounts of freshly whipped cream!
Garnish with fresh whole strawberries, if desired.
For more delicious recipes like this, check out:

Strawberry Shortcake at Pinch My Salt

Strawberry Shortcake at Simply Recipes

Strawberry Love Dessert and Its Coconut Cream at La Tartine Gourmande

Strawberry Lime Tartelettes at Tartelette

Strawberry Charlotte at Kitchen Wench

Strawberry Mousse Cake Strata at Use Real Butter


RecipeGirl said…
Those strawberries look absolutely juicy and delicious! We have them pretty much year-round here too (San Diego), but they're just starting to look a little better, and the prices are beginning to drop too! There's nothing better than a big juicy strawberry dunked in fresh whipped cream... with or without shortcake!
Manggy said…
Goodness Susan, that looks absolutely divine! You know how much I love strawberries ;)

First of all, I want to bury my face in those berries and just be a monster. Then moving on to your lovely shortcake-- I think I would finish it in a second! :D
Peter M said…
Whoa! If there's a strawberry growers' Assoc., this photo should be used for their poster.

Fabulous photo and yes, I could eat all that.
Cakelaw said…
Hi Susan, these are mouthwatering! Great choice of song too - I am a huge Beatles fan.
I have been baking with my share of florida strawberries this season! they look so full of goodness in your photo... and you started the blog with the beatles song so you got me right there! my favorite!
Gretchen Noelle said…
These look delicious! I remember my fathers strawberry plants when I was little but I don't think I appreciated them as much as I would now. Gorgeous shortcakes!
Unknown said…
This looks so, so good. I am so jealous your strawberries look like should see ours right now :) Thanks so much for participating in the event! Nice song/dessert choice!
Strawberries are a true passion of mine, and this is making me drool!
Bisquick? I am so disappointed. You shall now be called the Sandra Lee of shortcut whore. LOL/j/k.

Have you ever made a summer pudding?? The white bread in a bowl layered w/berries, put in the fridge overnight w/something heavy on top. I would like to try one of those this spring.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Recipegirl- Your season kicks in just when ours ends. Truth be told, I often find California strawberries are sweeter than ours. But, you didn't hear it from me! ;)

Manggy- Thank you so much! Sorry, I didn't mean to pinch your post title. I couldn't find another song that had strawberries in it, and that I had a recording of. Forgive me?

Peter- Thanks! I'm glad you like it. Lol, I had to buy five quarts of berries to get enough pretty ones to make this!

Cakelaw- Thanks! We're big Beatles fans here too. Uh oh, now I am dating myself!

Aran- Thank you! Yeah, you have to take advantage of strawberry season around here. I think I'm going to make some strawberry ice cream next!

Gretchen- Thanks! We never appreciate things enough when we're kids. Fortunately, most of us figure it out at some point.

Elly- Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to participate. I loved the whole idea of it!

Patricia- Lol. Thank you. I wish I could send you some.

Obsessive- Hahahaha! I actually did do a post on old Sandra a while back. She has a great recipe for chicken and dumplings.

I've never made a summer pudding, but I saw someone do it on Food Network. I can't remember who. It looked great. Go for it!
Manggy said…
Lol, Susan, I don't mind at all :) The Beatles can be claimed by whomever, hahaha!
Tempered Woman said…
Sakes alive- that looks like pure Spring which is heaven to me right now since I have snow on the way. I'd kill for some spring, I mean strawberry shortcake~
Love the post and the great pics!
Mansi said…
those pictures are so not good for my stomach at this time! especially when I only have some rice and curry in my lunch box!!!

I've tried shortcake with Bisquik before and loved its ok! your strawberry shortcakes look simply amazing!:)
Nina Timm said…
Wow, what a dessert, Love shortbread and love strawberries......beautiful pics.
Wow. Amazing presentation! I love shortbread so yummy...
Susan @ SGCC said…
Manngy- Whew! I'm so relieved. I never want to look like a copycat!

Tempered Woman- Thanks! It feels like Spring here - 76 degrees today. Come on down and bring a fork! ;)

Mansi Desai- Rice and curry sounds pretty good to me! I'm glad you like the shortcakes, though. Bisquick gets a bad rap sometimes. I've made lots of good things with it.

Nina- Thank you! It's hard to take ugly pictures of berries. They're so pretty!

Jessy- So glad you like them. They're Mr. SGCC's favorites.
I really like your photos--the dessert looks great! It seems you know exactly what's on my mind! As a fellow Floridian, I have also been on a strawberry kick lately (far too many posts coming, lol) and shortcakes were the first thing I had to have as well! Combined with the great discounts, well, its a good time to love strawberries!
Sarah said… boyfriend's favorite dessert! (and of course I think it's amazing too!) We definitely don't have strawberries around here right now, but I'm hopeful that these lovely fruits are right around the corner!

Last time I made this I put (gasp) already prepared whipped cream on it, and it was gross in a matter of minutes...I'll never make that mistake again! Next time I'll definitely use fresh whipped cream!
Heather said…
Using a Bisquick recipe is a shortcut? Pshaw, using store-bought biscuits is a shortcut. :) Yours looks delish.
test it comm said…
That strawberry shortcake looks amazing!
Helene said…
Nobody dare take my White Lilly away!! I keep buying strawberries here but they are disappearing before I can get to them!!
Beautiful dessert and one of hubb's most requested!
Brilynn said…
That is so beautiful! I'm so envious of your strawberry season and warm weather!
Ginny said…
Delicious! I love Strawberry Shortcake! I was just thinking we couldn't get any decent strawberries but then my roommate came home with some today, we shall see. Beautiful post!
kellypea said…
Probably my all time favorite dessert. Goodness. Thankfully, we have berries all year round, so if the urge comes on, we can give in! And having it with biscuits is the best way to go. Gorgeous photos!
Susan, as a Floridian who also has access to these amazing strawberries, I'd like to invite you to my first food blogging event: Strawberry Seduction! :-)
Susan @ SGCC said…
Mike- Thanks! It's hard to ignore the strawberries this time of year. They're everywhere!

I'd love to participate in your event. I'll look for details.

Sarah- I'm so glad you like them! I'm sure you'll be getting lovely fresh berries soon.

The canned whipped cream is okay in a pinch, but it doesn't compare with the real thing, does it?

Heather- Thanks! What about those ugly, spongey things masquerading as shortcakes that they sell in the grocery store. Ew! That doesn't even rank as a shortcut. Those are just...wrong!

Kevin- Thank you! I'm glad you like them. :)

Tartelette- Thanks! I'm with you on the White Lily. Shortcake is on of the few desserts that my husband actually likes!

Brilynn- Thank you! Believe it or not, I'm a little envious of your cold weather. I'd love to have just a little of it!

Ginny- Well, you'll just have to make some of this. Go on. You know you want to! ;)

Kellypea- Glad you like the photos. Fortunately, berries are very photogenic. I agree. Gotta have the biscuits!
Megan said…
Perfect berries. I still have to wait a couple more months for the strawberry patches here in N. Ca.
Great looking shortcake! Yum!
Aren't we lucky to have the strawberries so fresh and delicious! It still kills me though that I can walk into Publix and they actually try to sell me California strawberries!!!
Amanda said…
Oh, wow... yum!

My ex-MIL lived in Plant City, and I have actually BEEN to the strawberry festival. It's a wonderful thing!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Megan- Thanks! You have some delicious strawberries where you are too!

Judy- Yes, we definitely are lucky! I love Publix, but lately, I've been disappointed in their produce offerings. Very hit or miss.

Mrs. W- No kidding! Plant City is not too far from me. I haven't been to the festival in years, but it is always a great time.
Cakespy said…
The only judgment here is a declaration that "It's perfect!". I love strawberry shortcake so much...the textures of light cream, heavier cake, and tart strawberries...what could be more divine I ask you?
Anonymous said…
Ah, the Strawberry Festival brings back some good memories. Used to take my kids there every year. I live in Palm Harbor, used to be a lawyer and now all I think about is food: cooking, eating and writing about it. Lots of commonality!
Fresh strawberries, I can't resist them. I eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack etc. But I have to wait in June to get them. Lovely dessert.
Anonymous said…
Someone please hand me a fork!!! Looks amazing and delicious! Your making me hungry and I'm on a diet too :( I think in this case I would sneak a bite or two or three or four ... Forget the darn diet! Just give me a fork.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Cakespy- Thank you so much! coming from you, that is no faint praise! I agree, there are few things more divine than strawberry shortcake!

Ronnie- Hi! Thanks for coming by. Did you practice in Pinellas County? I lived in St. Pete for 3 years. Small world!

Helene- Thank you! I'm glad you like the shortcake. So sad that you can't get the fresh berries now. You'll have to double up when they do come to you.

Chuck- Lol! You're cracking me up! I'm glad you like them. I wish I could pass you a fork, but It would poke holes in my monitor. Then I wouldn't be able to post any more recipes! ;)
JEP said…
What gorgeous shortcake!
michelle said…
Ohhh... I've been DREAMING of strawberry season! We're not quite there yet, but I can't wait!

Looks amazing!
Could that look any more gorgeous? Shame we've a long way to go in the UK until strawberry season... Guess I'll just have to drool over your pics until then!
Jen Yu said…
Would you look at those beautiful berries! You warm weather people have all the good produce :) And you apparently know EXACTLY what to do with it! Luscious and lovely roadside stand berries are teh best. Yum. xxoo
I'll be looking out for those Florida strawberries for sure!! This looks so yummy! Who wouldn't love to take a bite of that!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Jep- Thank you!

Michelle- Glad you like them! Hope they come up your way soon!

Forkful- Thank you so much! Yes, but you have that wonderful clotted cream! Strawberries with clotted cream is worth waiting for! ;)

Jen- Thanks, but I can't take credit for the berries. I had really good material to work with! ;)

Proud Italian Cook- Thanks you! I'm dying to make those clams of yours. I'm going out to search for some this afternoon!
rhid said…
I love strawberries and cream - I'm waiting for the fresh berries of summer!
Luscious! Scrumptious! Outrageous!

I really like this, Susan. :)
Susan @ SGCC said…
Rhid- Definitely a winning combination!

Susan- Thank you! I had great raw material to work with!
Paola Westbeek said…
Looks absolutely delicious! And you sure spoke to me...I'm a Beatles fan!!

Sunshinemom said…
That looks sinful!! I am singing 'truly scrumptious' by Judy Garland - scrumptious as a sticky, gooey, strawberry cream shortcake. For us its mango time - Do you think a mango shortcake will look and taste just as good?

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