Recipe Review

The Secret to Rich and Tender Shortcakes? Hard-Boiled Eggs.

published May 5, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Culinary icon James Beard, of the eponymous James Beard Foundation and the James Beard Awards, had a significant impact on modern-day cuisine. He published more than 20 cookbooks, pioneered cooking shows, and was an educator, a chef, and a mentor. It’s safe to say he was one of the original food influencers — before influencing was a thing!

James Beard was also a huge proponent of cooking with real, fresh ingredients, which is just one of the many reasons I was excited to try his strawberry shortcake recipe. I was also intrigued by his use of finely crumbled egg yolk in the shortcakes, which he claims enriches the dough without toughening it. Would it prove to be as game-changing as promised? I took to the kitchen to find out.

Get the recipe: Jim Beard’s Shortcake

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

How To Make James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcakes

You’ll begin by sifting together all-purpose flour and baking powder, then stirring in sugar and salt. Add cold, cubed unsalted butter, and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in 2 hard-boiled egg yolks that have been passed through a fine-mesh sieve. Slowly add cold heavy cream, mixing it in until absorbed before adding more. Gently mix the dough until the mixture just comes together.

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead two or three times until it becomes a smooth ball. Pat down the dough into a 1-inch-thick slab, then use a round biscuit cutter to cut out 6 shortcakes. Place on a plate lined with wax paper and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Before baking, brush the tops with a little heavy cream and sprinkle granulated sugar on top. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet until golden and firm to the touch. Let cool.

Prepare the strawberries by tossing them with sugar and letting them sit until macerated. Meanwhile, whip heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer until it begins to thicken, then add granulated sugar and whip until fully thickened.

To serve: Split the shortcakes in half. Place the bottom shortcake on the plate and top with strawberries and their juices. Top the berries with whipped cream, then place the top half of the shortcake on top.

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

My Honest Review of James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcakes

WOW! These were some delicious shortcakes! They emerged from the oven with gorgeous, flaky layers; a deeply rich flavor; and a tender, almost-creamy texture. After doing some extra research, I’m convinced this was all thanks to the egg yolks: According to Good Housekeeping, the tiny bits of yolk prevent too much gluten from forming, therefore keeping baked goods like shortcakes extra tender. I’m definitely going to incorporate this technique into future baking endeavors.

The strawberries and whipped cream components were super tasty as well, although there wasn’t anything too special about them. But eating all three together was truly a magical experience.

Credit: Amelia Rampe
James Beard

If You’re Making These Strawberry Shortcakes, a Few Tips

  1. Top with turbinado sugar. The only thing these biscuits were missing was that extra-crunchy sugary finish. Next time, I’ll sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar instead of granulated.
  2. Add lemon juice to the strawberries. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice would have brightened up the fruit. And remember: Strawberry shortcakes are only as good as the strawberries you purchase. If you can, choose high-quality, deliciously ripe strawberries.

Rating: 9.5/10

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

Have you tried James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcake? Let us know in the comments!