Blackberry Shortcake

Who says strawberries have a monopoly on shortcake desserts? In serious denial regarding the end of August and the daylight hours that get shorter and shorter, I bought a huge basket of blackberries at the market today. I tossed them with a little lemon juice and sugar and let them macerate while I made a batch of butter and cream biscuits.

Of course the problem with making shortcake biscuits is that I can’t help but to call my dad to tell him about it. Which of course means that before I’m even done photographing the finished work, he’s knocking at the door. (I think he drove to get here faster. He lives seven houses down the street. It takes 5 minutes to walk.)

Dad tried to leave with half of the biscuits, but stayed to chat so we ended up eating several and he barely got out of here with enough to take home to mom.

Blackberry Shortcake

Regarding the berries, for this batch we used berries from the market. They weren’t as flavorful as the wild berries that I pick on foraging trips, or as tart. So I added lemon juice and zest to intensify the flavor. If you are using wild blackberries, or you have a particularly good batch of market berries, you could probably easily skip the lemon. Berries vary in their sweetness. Start light with the sugar and add more to taste.

The biscuit recipe is one we’ve adapted over the years from an old (2003) issue of Fine Cooking. We’ve reduced the amount of butter from the original recipe. With all of the cream, you could probably reduce it even further if you wanted, or substitute some of the cream with buttermilk.

Blackberry Shortcake Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6

Ingredients

Blackberries:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of blackberries (6 to 8 cups), gently rinsed if fresh, defrosted if frozen (save any juices that come from defrosting!)
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar (to taste, depending on the tartness of the berries)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Biscuits:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • A few drops of vanilla extract

Method

1 Put the blackberries into a large bowl, sprinkle with sugar, and toss to coat all the berries with sugar. Use a potato masher to gently mash about half of the berries, releasing their juices. Stir in lemon juice and zest. Let sit for 20 minutes to an hour to macerate, allowing the sugar to help release more of the juices from the blackberries.

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2 In a large bowl vigorously whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the chilled butter cubes and use your fingers (or a fork, pastry cutter, or food processor) to break up the butter and mix with the flour until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas.

blackberry-shortcake-3 blackberry-shortcake-4

3 Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the cream and vanilla. Use a fork to mix the flour and the cream until the dough just comes together. It should have a rather shaggy appearance. Empty on to a clean surface and knead a few times to form a loose ball. Do not over mix or over knead!

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4 Place ball on a small tray or baking sheet and form into an 8-inch by 8-inch square. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for 15 to 20 minutes.

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5 Preheat oven to 425°F. Once the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove it from the refrigerator and cut it into 9 even squares. Arrange them on a baking sheet with an inch or two between each square.

Bake at 425°F until the biscuits are nicely browned, about 18 minutes.

6 While the biscuits are baking place the heavy whipping cream into a large chilled bowl (I usually put a metal mixing bowl into the freezer for a few minutes if I know I'm going to be making whipped cream.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract. Use a hand mixer to beat until you have peaks that somewhat hold their shape. Chill until ready to serve.

7 When the biscuits are ready, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. To serve, place one in a bowl or dessert plate, pull it apart in half. Place a large scoop of berries and the juices from the berries over the bottom half. Top with the other half of the biscuit and a generous dollop of whipped cream.

 

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13 Comments

  1. Natalie @ Paper & Birch

    Wow Elise – that looks decadent!

  2. nearoffutt

    This looks like fun! I will almost follow exactly the first time. I will use unbleached, unbromated flour and pure cane sugar as I like my family healthy. We fully understand appreciate decadent!

  3. Alanna

    These look perfect Elise! I’d come knocking if I lived down the street, too. We’re big blackberry fans around here, and I agree that nothing compares to the ones you pick yourself.

  4. Steve

    Holy hopping frogs that looks amazing! Now if I only had an oven and access to blackberries :( I’m a sad panda over that.

  5. Susan

    I found that blackberries aren’t the most flavorful berry on the block, too. I tried making some blackberry jam and was waiting for the flavors to come forward but the mixture was still bland and was mostly just sweet thickened purple stuff. I was so disappointed. Undaunted, I made it again and added a very small handful (about 1/4 cup) of blueberries to my next batch and it really added just the right balance of sweet juice and a snip of flavor to punch that blackberry flavor up. Like you, I’ve foraged berries before, but I think they were the black raspberries that grow along the roadsides that are the most flavorful berries to use for jam.

  6. Sandy S

    Here in the Pac. NW, we have an abundance of the big, easy to pick blackberries. They look so perfect, but don’t hold the flavor one wants for baking or jam. They are best to eat fresh while picking (If you are sure they have not been sprayed.) or with cereal. Some can be added to the smaller vine/ground berries as needed for volume, but it is the smaller type of blackberry that has the flavor for cooking. Some locals keep their source of these small berries as close to their vest as where they find their chanterelles, morels or favorite fishing hole! My favorite ways to perk-up blackberry flavor is to add cinnamon and/or plums or peaches. I love peach melba and think it might be swell with this short cake recipe! I also love Susan’s idea above of adding blueberries as well as Elise’s use of lemon! Knowing of ways to include the bigger black berries is a good thing!

  7. Lori @ RecipeGirl

    I am craving this right now!

  8. Margaret McFarland

    Yes! Pacific NW is dripping with these berries. The locals dismiss them with “They’re an invasive species”. I moved here 3 years & am totally appreciative of them. It’s my mission to eat and share as many as possible. I will be making this soon, happy to have another great Elise offering.Thank You!

  9. Kate @¡Hola! Jalapeño

    Yes, yes, yes!! I cannot resist shortcake, especially when it looks this good!

  10. Cookin Canuck

    There are several blackberry fans in our house, so I vote for this to be the official dessert of summer. Gorgeous!

  11. Rachel

    Elise, any chance you can put grams on the recipes, you do have a French partner after all!

  12. francis

    I use cold buttermilk instead of cream for my biscuits and melt the butter so that it can be poured into the milk while stirring . The effect is the same as going to all the trouble to cut the fat into the flour when the mix is added to the dry ingredients you still get the flakiness desired.

  13. angel

    Mmmmm!t That is some sexy food right there!

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