Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Strawberry Season

"Donwell was famous for its strawberry-beds, which seemed a plea for the invitation: but no plea was necessary; cabbage-beds would have been enough to tempt the lady, who only wanted to be going somewhere."
--Jane Austen, "Emma"

Photo via here

Jane Austen's novel Emma has some famous scenes that capture the essence of summer in England. There are country house dinners, afternoon teas, leisurely walks, picnics, and strawberry-picking. I always think of "Emma" when I think of strawberry season.

The 1996 film "Emma" with Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette

Don't let the summer go by without making strawberry shortcake, especially while you can still get good strawberries. If you know how to make a biscuit or a scone, then you can make a luscious strawberry shortcake. Biscuits, strawberries and whipped cream -- together they make the quintessential summer dessert. 

This treasured book is my go-to source for biscuits and scones. It has a great recipe for Strawberry Shortcakes made with homemade biscuits. It couldn't be easier.

Charlotte Walker's Strawberry Shortcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut up
2/3 cup milk
2 quarts strawberries, hulled and sliced; sprinkle with a little sugar
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Put flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl; stir to mix well. Add butter and cut in with pastry blender or rub in with your fingers until the mixture looks like fine granules. Add milk; stir with a fork to form a soft dough, adding more milk if needed. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and give 8 to 10 kneads. Roll or pat dough to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut out shortcakes with a 2- or 21/2-inch round cutter; re-roll and cut the scraps. Place apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush shortcakes with beaten egg. Bake 14-16 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve the shortcakes warm in a basket. Let everyone split a warm shortcake and fill with berries and Creme Fraiche.


Put this together while strawberries are still in season. You can freeze the unbaked biscuits (place cookie sheet with unbaked biscuits in freezer; when biscuits are frozen, put them in a freezer bag) and pull them out and bake them anytime for this homey dessert. Be sure to eat it outside on your porch or patio or, even better, on a blanket under a tree. And don't forget to take along your copy of "Emma." The strawberry-picking scene at Donwell Abbey is such a great summer scene. And these long summer days are perfect for dining outside and reading in the garden.


  1. Ahhh, I love the long strawberry season! I think strawberry shortcake just might be the perfect dessert. Great idea to freeze the shortcakes and berries for a mid winter treat.

  2. Wild Blackberries are plentiful here. Everywhere I walk, massive bushes overgrow sidewalks. I'll make your recipe using them!! Freezing them to enjoy when I'm back here in the winter, is a great idea.

  3. I used to hate strawberries, but I've really come to like them in the past few years. I've never had strawberry shortcake, though - time to try it!

  4. Sunday, you are absolutely correct, now is the time to eat fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and all of the fruits of summer. In season, fresh off the vine or tree when they taste exactly as they should and as we remember.

    I have the same cookbook and I love it! So many great recipes in there.

    I hope that you have a wonderful day!

  5. Sunday, We had a very short berry season this year. I have never met a berry I didn't like, so I have been a little disappointed this summer. My grandfather raised strawberries and loved sharing them with everyone. I am going to be looking for the Biscuit and Scone book. I have Alston's muffin book, and as you said, it is my go to source of the best muffin recipes. I will be copying the strawberry shortcake recipe. Have a wonderful Wednesday. Bonnie

    1. Bonnie, you will love this book; I hope you can find it. There is a recipe for chocolate chip scones that my husband loves! I have the muffin book by Alston as well.

  6. Looks so good, and yes, strawberries and Emma go hand in hand.

  7. Strawberries and Wimbledon seem to kick start our season,and we are still scoffing them as there has been an abundance of them this year,yummie.

  8. Judith, I also associate strawberries with Wimbledon! Glad you are enjoying them this summer.

  9. I made something similar for guests recently and it was a hit. I also made a mascarpone based cream which turned out lovely. Yum!

  10. Love the strawberry picking scene in Emma. Mrs Elton's monologue is wonderful. Thanks for the reminder!