Last week we had three days in a row of very heavy rain. I didn’t even want to leave the house during those days. It was bad. By the second day I was starting to go stir crazy. Which is weird because it rains all winter long here and it doesn’t bother me one bit. But throw some rain at me in July and watch me freak out like a caged wild animal.
So I decided to channel my energy into something productive: organizing my cooking magazines. I had 10 years (yes 10, I found some dated 2004!) of magazines jammed in boxes, shelves, draws and anywhere else I could find a few millimeters of extra space. It was getting out of control. So I started pulling them out and ended up deep in a pile of Cooking Light, Bon Appétit, Cuisine at Home, Cooks Illustrated, Gourmet (R.I.P.) and many others. It was pretty daunting.
Getting super organized was certainly a positive end result to this whole undertaking. But even better was the re-discovery of some favorite recipes that had gotten lost in the shuffle. One of which was this Blueberry-Blackberry Shortcake recipe from Cooking Light circa 2004.
Dare I say that I think this dessert is better than a pie in terms of highlighting all the deliciousness of summer berries. Why would I say such a crazy thing? I think it has to do with the fact that the majority of the berries in this dessert remain uncooked. And when it’s peak berry season, enjoying them in their unaltered state is the way to go, in my humble opinion. Also, you only have to turn you oven on for about 20 minutes, which is certainly a blessing in August.
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light
- For the Shortcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tsp sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk, divided
- For the Filling
- 3 cups fresh blueberries, divided
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 cups fresh blackberries
- For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (you could also use granulated sugar)
- Make the shortcakes. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In the bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the chilled butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and pulse 4-5 times, until the dough is moist and comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead it lightly 3 or 4 times. Then shape it into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Using a 3-inch round cookie/biscuit cutter, cut out dough rounds and place them on your parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Gently re-shape the dough scraps (be careful not to overwork the dough or the shortcakes will become tough) and continue cutting out rounds until the dough is used up. You should be able to get 8 rounds out of the dough. Brush the tops of the dough rounds with the remaining buttermilk (or any kind of milk or cream will do ) and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tsp. of sugar. Transfer to your pre-heated oven and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and let the shortcakes rest on their baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Make the filling. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the blueberries, the lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly. Remove from the heat. Place the remaining blueberries and the blackberries in a large bowl. Add the cooked portion of the filling to the blueberries and blackberries and stir gently to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to chill.
- Make the whipped cream. Place the bowl of your mixer and the whisk attachment in your freezer for 5-10 minutes. Once chilled, remove from the freezer and immediately add the cream and the vanilla extract and start whisking on medium-high speed. As the cream starts to thicken, add the sugar and continue whisking on high speed until stiff peaks form. Whipped cream is best when it’s used shortly after making it, but it can be stored in the refrigerator for several hours if necessary.
- Assemble the Blueberry-Blackberry Shortcakes. Cut the shortcakes in half horizontally. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the berry mixture over the bottom half of the shortcakes. Top with a big dollop of whipped cream and then the top half of the shortcakes. Serve immediately.
- If you only want to make a few servings, the different components of this recipe can all be stored separately and assembled at a later date. Keep the shortcakes in an airtight container at room temperature. And refrigerate the filling in an airtight container. Both will be good for 2-3 days. The whipped cream is best enjoyed on the day it’s made, but it’s easy to make up another batch when you’re ready for it!
1. No buttermilk? No problem! Stir 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into 1/2 cup of whole milk or half and half. Let it sit about 5 minutes at room temperature. It will curdle slightly (that’s what you want to happen). Then use it as you would buttermilk in your recipe.