Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Shortcake - a classic summer treat in the USA.  When the strawberries are at their perfect pitch of sweetness and abundantly available, as they are now in many parts of the world as well as here in Finland, it's time to gather yourself a nice big pile of them to pour over this shortcake.

It's something that is often served up around this time of the year:  the days surrounding the Fourth of July and the related picnics, fireworks shows, grilling parties and other Independence Day celebrations. Add a few blueberries in with the strawberries and you've got a dish as red, white and blue as the good old American flag.

Typically, strawberry shortcake is served up on nice little plates with a cup of coffee or tea on the side and eaten close to a place that provides refrigeration and electricity because one of the key ingredients here is freshly whipped cream.

But...'s summer, so I say take the fun with you in a jar and shake it up in a place more exciting than your dining room or backyard.  With a little prep in advance, you too can enjoy these treats in fresh air with sea views, and hopefully, with great company as well.

For the enjoyment of this treat, we planned an weekday evening trip to Suomenlinna, located on a group of islands just of the coast near Helsinki.  Built in the middle of the 18th century during the Swedish rule of Finland as a maritime fortress and a base for the Archipelago fleet, Suomenlinna is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of Finland's most popular tourist destinations.  And with good reason.  Easily accessible from the city by water ferry, with a permanent population of around 800 people, it's a delightful place to spend an afternoon or an evening enjoy the beauty of the Finnish archipelago.

For the shortcake part, I turned to my trusty Joy of Cooking and used the classic currant scones recipe there with minor modifications.  (If you are looking for an excellent, all-around cookbook that covers nearly everything, Joy of Cooking is definitely it.  I've used mine for years and years, adding notes in the margins and have been inspired over and over again.)

Cut the shortcake into triangles
Bake and cool
I washed, trimmed and cut the strawberries at home, and stored them in a tightly sealed plastic container for the ferry ride to Suomenlinna.  I chilled a 3/4 liter/quart glass jar, poured in a quarter cup of fresh whipping cream for two people, and sealed it tightly with a lid, popped it in a thermal bag along with ice packs and a little jar with coffee cream.  The shortcakes are prepped and baked in 15 minutes; cool them for 10 minutes on a wire rack in open air, pack them up in a breathable paper bag and you're off.

If you live in Helsinki, get yourself, your friend(s) and your picnic down to the Helsinki harbor near Kauppatori.  If you haven't had time to buy strawberries yet, you can pick them up from one of the vendors here before you head out.

Water ferry approaching Suomenlinna
You can ride the ferry for the price of a metro ticket, or just use your metro pass if you already have one.  It's a beautiful 15 minute or so float out to Suomenlinna, a great place for a picnic all spring, summer and fall long.  The boat is typically full of people out to enjoy the scenery and peaceful atmosphere.  But don't worry, the island is large and there are abundant walking paths out to a spot saved up just for you.  There is a new grocery store just off to the right of the harbor, so if you haven't already picked up your cream, you can buy it here, along with most basics you might need for a picnic.

Viking Line passing through the archipelago

Enjoy an afternoon or an evening watching the boats come and go as you sip coffee from your thermos and satisfy your sweet tooth with this lovely summer treat.

For my American friends, dig into this as you wait for the fireworks show to begin.  Happy Fourth of July!

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake with freshly whipped cream
I used 2 of the scones for 2 people and brought along the appropriate amount of strawberries and cream.  The remaining scones are excellent the next day served up with a little jam - or of course, you can just make shortcake again!

You'll need:
Whole wheat scones (recipe below) - makes 8
Fresh strawberries, washed, cored & sliced - 2 quarts/liters for 8 people
Freshly whipped cream - 1/2 pint/2 dl for 8 people

Grab your jar of chilled whipping cream, make sure the lid is tightly secured, and start shaking.  Shake vigorously.  Get that cream moving around in the jar.  Put some joy into it.  Check your progress every now and again - you want a nice, softly drooping whipped cream, not stiff, and definitely not butter.

When your cream is properly whipped into a fluff...

Slice each scone in half and lay them face up on a plate.  Top with sliced fresh strawberries and spoonfuls of fresh cream.  Look out across the distance at the view.  Dream of spending days like this in Hawaii in January.  Breathe deeply.  Take another bite. Enjoy the summer and the moment while they last.

Serves 8.

Whole wheat scones
adapted from Joy of Cooking's  Classic Currant Scones recipe

In a medium-sized bowl, combine:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons / 90g chilled butter, cut into pieces

With a fork or a pastry cutter, mix the butter into the flour mixture until butter pieces are the size of peas and are well incorporated.

In a small bowl combine:
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream or buttermilk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 

Pour the cream mixture over the flour mixture and combine with a fork until it starts to come together.  With your hands, fold and press the mixture together against the sides of the bowl until it forms a ball.

Turn the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Divide the dough into two equal portions.  Flatten each portion into a round disk and make a cross cut with a knife to form 4 equal triangles from each disk.  Separate the scone triangles so they are spaced at least 1 inch /2.5 cm apart.

Bake until they are golden brown; 12 -15 minutes.

Makes 8 scones.

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