Kitchn Love Letters

These Extra Flaky Strawberry Shortcakes Are the Best I’ve Ever Had

published May 31, 2023
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Freshly made strawberry shortcake on a plate.
Credit: Kristina Razon

For me, spring is about stashing away heavy winter coats, embracing the warmer weather, and eating strawberry shortcake. I can’t remember the first time I actually had strawberry shortcake, but soon after, I was sold on it. Between the tender shortcake, juicy strawberries, and piles of rich whipped cream, there’s a lot to love. 

Over the years, I’ve searched high and low for the best strawberry shortcake recipe and each and every one of them fell short, with either tough shortcakes, too-sugary strawberries, or both. So after a while I just stopped making them. Finally in 2019, I came across a recipe from Molly Baz at Bon Appétit for simple strawberry shortcakes. This recipe delivered the best strawberry shortcakes I’ve ever had, and I’m happy to say that we’ll never be parted again.

Why I Love Bon Appetit’s Simple Strawberry Shortcakes

Like other recipes for strawberry shortcakes, this one has the same three components: shortcakes, strawberries, and whipped cream. That’s where the similarities end. In order to fully convey how great this recipe is, let’s examine each component by itself, starting with the shortcakes. 

The most basic recipe for shortcakes calls for flour, sugar, a leavening agent, and heavy cream. Molly ups the ante here by adding freshly grated lemon zest, cubed butter, and a generous amount of sour cream to the mix, which results in an incredibly fluffy shortcake that’s tender, light, and tangy. She also shares an ingenious technique that creates lots of flaky layers in the shortcakes. Once the dough comes together, she divides the dough into four equal squares, stacks them on top of each other, and presses them down to flatten them back into a square — that’s all there is to it! 

Then, there are the macerated strawberries. Molly’s ingredient list for these — strawberries, granulated sugar, and lemon juice — is nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s the ratio in particular that she’s nailed down. Simply toss the three together and you’ll be rewarded with the juiciest and most perfectly balanced macerated berries you’ve ever tasted. 

Lastly, there’s the whipped cream (and lots of it). Again, Molly sticks close to the classic, calling for vanilla extract, granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt. What sets this whipped cream apart is the addition of sour cream, which adds a pleasant tang. It’s so good that I normally double up the amount of whipped cream per serving, and sometimes I even go back for thirds. 

Credit: Kristina Razon

How to Make Bon Appetit’s Simple Strawberry Shortcakes 

You’ll start by making the shortcakes. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in the center, and add heavy cream and sour cream. Stir it all together until it forms a shaggy dough. You’ll turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it into a square. Divide the dough into four equal squares, stack them directly on top of each other, and press down to flatten them back into a square. Split the dough into six rectangles, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes, then bake. 

While the shortcakes are baking, prepare the macerated strawberries by combining halved strawberries, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and granulated sugar in a bowl. Toss to combine, then let sit at room temperature. The juice from the berries will mingle with the sugar and lemon juice to naturally create a syrup. 

The final step is making the whipped cream. Molly calls for hand whisking the heavy cream, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl until soft, slightly floppy, peaks form. (Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer here). To finish, whisk in the sour cream until just incorporated. 

Let the shortcakes cool, then split each one in half. Place the bottom halves in individual bowls for serving, piled the whipped cream and strawberries (along with any juicy syrup) on top, and close with the top halves.  

If You’re Making Bon Appetit’s Simple Strawberry Shortcakes, a Few Tips 

  • Use the ripest strawberries you can find. I can’t emphasize enough that you’ll want to use the best strawberries that are available to you. Doing so will bestow you with strawberry shortcakes that are anything but simple. 
  • Double the whipped cream. I love whipped cream, but I really love this whipped cream. If you’re a fan of whipped cream like me, then you’ll want to double the recipe to make sure there’s enough to go around. 
  • Follow the directions word-for-word. I’ll often tweak recipes the more I make them, but this recipe needs no tweaking at all. Follow the instructions exactly for strawberry shortcakes that will exceed your expectations.