Have you ever been in the right place at the right time? It feels really good. I don’t consider myself a lucky person, but there was a day last week that turned into a lucky opportunity. A local farm, named Gieringer’s Orchard, shared a post that their strawberry plants had produced early and they decided to open for a few hours to allow picking. It took me five seconds to decide to move my schedule around and I arrived at the farm bright and early. Strawberry picking is my favorite part of the spring season. Those warm glistening red jewels are irresistible after a bleak winter. That day, there were only a handful of other strawberry pickers and the quietness of the landscape was like a calming blanket. With a full flat, and heart, I walked out of the farm smelling like dirt and sweet berries. This is the reason that I love food. Memories. The food memories that linger in this Roasted Strawberry Thyme Shortcake recipe today only make this dessert taste better.
If you have the chance to go strawberry picking in your area this season go for it. Or at least visit the farmers market and pick out a pint of berries that the farmer picked for you. Non-grocery store strawberries are smaller, vibrant red to their tippy-tops, and deeply flavorful. To this day, I can still taste my very first real strawberry experience. It was during my first visit to Paris and at the beginning of my own personal journey into the culinary world. I came across a pint of the most gorgeous small red strawberries, at a market stall near our hotel, and they were so beautiful that I had to buy them. Upon returning to the hotel I casually popped one into my mouth. It stopped me in my tracks. It was like biting into silky softened butter and it had the most intense strawberry flavor. It was a revelation.
I truly believe that food is meant to be an mindful experience, not just fuel for your body. It should be a good balance of both. This Roasted Strawberry Thyme Shortcake is a classic comfort food that will satisfy the mind and body. The soft shortcake biscuits are tender yet firm enough to stand up to the roasted strawberry juices; while the combination of both roasted strawberries and macerated strawberries create a dual layer of intense strawberry flavor. The additional of thyme adds an earthiness that’s reminiscent to being back in the strawberry fields. It’s subtle and secondary to the intense strawberry, but it lingers on the tongue after the final bite. All a reminder of that fateful day of strawberry picking.
Helpful Tips For This Recipe
* Try and use local strawberries for this recipe (yeah, I know- that sounds pretentious;). Grocery store strawberries will work just fine too, but they’re not as flavorful and I want you to have the best experience.
* When macerating the strawberries in the roasted thyme juices be sure to give them plenty of time to macerate. The longer the strawberries have to soak up these juices the stronger the thyme flavor.
* Be sure to allow time for the shortcake biscuits to chill before baking. This chilling time firms up the butter in the biscuits which creates a tall mounded final biscuit. Otherwise, they’ll spread out during baking and lose their shape.
Roasted Strawberry Thyme Shortcake
Makes 7 shortcakes
Roasted Thyme Strawberries
24 oz (679g) fresh strawberries
2 0z (56g) sugar
Pinch sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
10 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425F (218C). Rinse, pat dry, hull and halve strawberries.
In a bowl, toss together strawberries, sugar, salt, vanilla bean seeds and pod. Transfer half of the strawberry mixture to a baking pan. Add thyme sprigs to baking pan and lightly mix to combine. Leave remaining half of strawberries to macerate in the bowl.
Place baking pan into the oven and roast thyme strawberries for 10 – 12 minutes. Strawberries should be tender, but not mushy. Remove from oven and set on cooling rack to cool. Once cool, drizzle in 1 tsp of lemon juice and then carefully pour the roasted thyme strawberry juices over the macerated strawberries. Add 1 tsp of lemon juice to the bowl and mix together the juices and strawberries. Let macerated strawberries sit for at least another 20 minutes.
3 1/2 oz (99g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 oz (71g) cake flour
3 Tbsp semolina or fine ground cornmeal
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 oz (42g) sugar
3 oz (86g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 oz (170g) heavy cream, plus more for brushing
1 Tbsp coarse sugar, such as turbinado or demerara (optional)
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
In a bowl, whisk together flours, semolina, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add in cold butter cubes. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until only small pea-sized pieces remain. Add in cream and gently combine the mixture, with a fork, until it just comes together. Transfer dough onto countertop and gently fold it onto itself a few times to combine and to absorb dry spots.
Using a 2-oz ice cream scoop, portion out seven mounds onto lined baking sheet (don’t flatten). Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 25 – 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F (177C).
Brush the tops of shortcakes with heavy cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 25 – 27 minutes, until bottoms are golden and tops are set. Remove from oven and let cool.
Slice each shortcake in half and top the bottoms with a generous spoonful of roasted strawberries, macerated strawberries, and a dollop of whipped cream. Place on shortcake tops and serve immediately.
Shortcake Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.
8 oz (228g) heavy cream
2 tsp sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
In a medium bowl, whip together all ingredients until cream reaches medium-soft peaks. Store whipped cream in the refrigerator until ready to use.