Use Fresh, Peak Season Strawberries For The Sweetest Shortcake

Picture this: You're baking and keen on crafting the perfectly sweet strawberry shortcake. You've got the fluffiest whipped cream, delicate, crumbly biscuits ready to go, and your heart is set on the iconic dessert. But you run into a problem — your strawberries are, unfortunately, lacking in the sweet, juicy flavor and are off-season. 

The strawberry shortcake, whether it's a traditional biscuit-based version or the fluffy chiffon cake style found in Asian bakeries, heavily depends on the freshness and quality of your strawberries. However, not every strawberry is created equal. Peak-season strawberries are rich in their natural sweetness, plump in texture, and are ideal for creating a memorable summery strawberry shortcake. Using off-season strawberries may compromise the dessert's flavor, lessening its saccharine taste as well as the fruit's vibrancy and tender bite.

So, for the sweetest, most flavorful shortcake, we recommend using fresh, in-season strawberries whenever possible.

A little maceration goes a long way with off-peak strawberries

When strawberries are in their peak season, from mid-May to July, they are naturally sweeter, juicy, and have a deep, appealing rouge. But this period may seem too brief for strawberry shortcake enthusiasts who crave this dessert all year round.

Macerating the strawberries can be a game-changer for those yearning for this dessert during the off-season. Slice the strawberries and mix them with lemon juice, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and a touch of white or red miso for balance and a hint of umami. Allow the strawberries to macerate, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

The strawberries will produce a sweet "syrup" during maceration, perfect for adding extra moisture and flavor to your cake. Once the strawberries are glossy and sweet, they can be layered onto the biscuit or chiffon cake, followed by a generous spoonful of whipped cream. Drizzle some of the strawberry syrup for a shortcake bursting with berry sweetness. 

So, while we recommend you opt for fresh, peak-season strawberries when available, a little sugar and maceration can work wonders, ensuring you enjoy this transient taste of summer at any time of the year.