|Type||Cake or biscuit|
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Main ingredients||Flour, sugar, butter, milk or cream|
Shortcake generally refers to a dessert with a crumbly scone-like texture. There are multiple variations of shortcake, most of which are served with fruit and cream. One of the most popular is strawberry shortcake, which is typically served with whipped cream. Other variations common in the UK are blackberry and clotted cream shortcake and lemon berry shortcake, which is served with lemon curd in place of cream.
Shortcake is typically made with flour, sugar, baking powder or soda, salt, butter, milk or cream, and sometimes eggs. The dry ingredients are blended, and then the butter is cut in until the mixture resembles cornmeal. The liquid ingredients are then mixed in just until moistened, resulting in a shortened dough. The dough is then dropped in spoonfuls onto a baking sheet, rolled and cut like baking powder biscuits, or poured into a cake pan, depending on how wet the dough is and the baker's preferences. Then it is baked at a relatively high temperature until set.
Strawberry shortcake is a widely known dessert made with shortcake. Sliced strawberries are mixed with sugar and allowed to sit an hour or so, until the strawberries have surrendered a great deal of their juices (macerated). The shortcakes are split and the bottoms are covered with a layer of strawberries, juice, and whipped cream, typically flavored with sugar and vanilla. The top is replaced, and more strawberries and whipped cream are added onto the top. Some convenience versions of shortcake are not made with a shortcake (i.e. biscuit) at all, but instead use a base of sponge cake or sometimes a corn muffin.
Though strawberry is the most widely known shortcake dessert, peach shortcake, blueberry shortcake, chocolate shortcake and other similar desserts are made along similar lines. In some recipes the shortcake itself is flavored; coconut is one addition.
The short part of the name shortcake indicates something crumbly or crispy, generally through the addition of a fat such as butter or lard. The earliest printed mention of the descriptive term short – as in short cake – occurred in 1588, in the second English cookbook to be printed, The Good Huswifes Handmaid for Cookerie in her Kitchen (London, 1588). However, that recipe describes an unleavened cookie or biscuit (in the English sense), made of flour, cream, sugar, egg yolk and spices.
Strawberries were first included in a recipe for "Strawberry cake" which appeared in the June 1, 1845 issue (page 86) of The Ohio Cultivator (Columbus). The recipe was popularized by Eliza Leslie of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in The lady's receipt-book (1847). These "Strawberry cakes" were made of a thick unleavened cookie of flour, butter, eggs and sugar, split, layered with fresh strawberries, and covered with a hard sugar-and-egg white icing.
The North American introduction of baking soda and baking powder as leaven in the 1800s revolutionized baking and made possible the biscuit-style shortcake. By the 1850s, leavened shortcakes were the popular pastry for American strawberry cakes, and the term strawberry shortcake became established.
By the 1860s, cream was being poured onto the shortcake and strawberries. A June 1862 issue of the Genesse Farmer (Rochester) described a “Strawberry Shortcake” made up of layers of soda biscuit, fresh berries, sugar, and cream. A similar recipe appeared in Jennie June's American Cookery Book (1866) by Jane Cunningham Croly. The first known cookbook by a black woman in the United States, A domestic cook book (1866) by Malinda Russell, also contains a recipe.
In the United States, strawberry shortcake parties were held as celebrations of the summer fruit harvest. This tradition is upheld in some parts of the United States on June 14, which is Strawberry Shortcake Day.
The largest strawberry shortcake ever made was in the town of La Trinidad, Benguet in the Philippines on March 20, 2004. It weighed 21,213.40 lb (9622.23 kg.)
The "short" in shortcake comes from the 15th-century British usage meaning crumbly like, the first mention of which, as "short cake", appeared in London in 1588.