Recipe Review

I Tried Christina Tosi’s Easy Strawberry Shortcakes and They Were Nothing Like I Expected

published May 2, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Christina Tosi, the creator and driving force behind Milk Bar, is famous for her whimsical and well-crafted desserts. Many of her treats are a nod to childhood favorites — like cornflake-inspired cookies — and her layer cakes are truly in a league of their own.

Needless to say, I had high hopes for Tosi’s strawberry shortcake recipe, which I was testing as part of this month’s celebrity recipe showdown. Tosi originally shared the recipe, which she says is the easiest way to enjoy Milk Bar’s Strawberry Shortcake Cake at home, with Good Morning America last year. Due to its short ingredient list, it looked like it would be the easiest recipe of the bunch, and I was eager to get started. Here’s what happened when I gave it a try.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

How To Make Christina Tosi’s Strawberry Shortcakes

Heat the oven to 350°F and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add cold unsalted butter and, working quickly, pinch it into the flour mixture with your fingers until you no longer see large chunks of butter. The mixture should look pinched and shaggy. Add an egg and a splash of milk and use a fork to mix until incorporated. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then scoop the dough into balls about the size of three tablespoons each.

Pour powdered sugar into a bowl and roll each shortcake in the sugar to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake shortcakes until the edges are golden-brown. Macerate sliced strawberries with sugar, then serve the shortcakes with the strawberries and their juices and a dollop of whipped cream.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

My Honest Review of Christina Tosi’s Strawberry Shortcake

I attempted this shortcake dough three times and I still never feel like I achieved success. During my first pass, I quickly noticed the dough was way too wet. The shortcakes never rose, melting instead into wide, flat cookies. I attempted a second time — this time with my husband watching my every move to see where I might be making a mistake — and again the dough was too wet. On my third attempt, I worked the butter in a little less and the dough appeared very shaggy. This slightly improved the outcome, as I was able to get a little rise in the center of the shortcakes. But they never rose and puffed like in the photos, and I certainly never achieved the cracked sugar-coated appearance.

Credit: Amelia Rampe
My 2nd attempt.

When I compared this recipe to the others in the showdown, I noticed it contains less than half the amount of baking powder as the others. It also calls for far more sugar and butter, which likely contributed to the moistness and the shortcakes being weighed down. Ultimately, I feel like this is an untested, unedited recipe that could be successful with a few tweaks. I’ve made Christina’s Milk Bar cakes with ease, so I know she knows how to write a recipe. But this one is published on GMA’s website rather than one of her cookbooks, which might be why it wasn’t edited to the same standards.

With all that said, the shortcakes tasted good, and were especially delicious with the strawberries. And while they were just a little too sweet for my palate, my 10-year old declared it her second favorite of the bunch and ate every single shortbread I made in 48 hours. But when it comes down to it, I would rather make an okay biscuit one time versus a tasty-but-never-successful biscuit three times.

Credit: Amelia Rampe

If You’re Going to Make Christina Tosi’s Strawberry Shortcakes, a Few Tips

  1. Increase the dry ingredients. Because my dough was so wet, I would start by increasing the dry ingredients, like the baking powder and the flour, and see what happens.
  2. Decrease the sugar. Unless you prefer a super-sweet shortcake like my daughter, I would decrease the sugar.

Rating: 6.5/10

Have you ever made Christina Tosi’s strawberry shortcakes? Let us know in the comments!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne