Strawberry shortcake

(July 30, 2021) Does a beautiful, well thought out dish taste better than food haphazardly thrown together?

There are those who will say hogwash, but the facts indicate a gorgeous presentation stimulates our senses which in turn starts the process of anticipation.

The art of serving stunning dishes is called “plating,” and is vital to a chef’s repertoire of skills.

Plating refers to the art of arranging, decorating and presenting food in a way that improves its aesthetic appeal. This may sound simple, but there is much consideration. Following are some tips for successful plating.

A chef is not only a cook but also an artist. The plate is your blank canvas; every piece of food must have purpose and intention.

Height is the first thing our eyes focus on. As a result, try to incorporate stature into your dish. Elevation is dramatic and will get the attention of your guests.

Color makes food come to life. The visual impression that color adds to a dish can bring it to a level of astonishment.

The choice of plate is also an important consideration. Does the plate or bowl meet the function when it comes to the type of dish being served. In addition, square, rectangular and triangle shapes make interesting choices as opposed to the standard round plates.

Employ contrasting textures. A combination of consistencies adds excitement to the visual appeal which in turn makes the dish more enticing.

Garnishes are the final touches and brings the dish together. Get creative with your garnishes and think out of the box. But be careful not to over garnish, it will take away from the dish itself.

Now that we understand the art of plating, let us move onto the subject of homemade strawberry shortcake.

One might be asking what does strawberry shortcake have to do with plating? After all, it is just a biscuit, whipped cream and strawberries.

This old-fashioned dessert is an American classic and merits the thought and care that a highly sophisticated dish deserves. In fact, because of its simplicity, one should concentrate even more on bringing out its natural beauty.

Traditional strawberry shortcake is made with biscuits and not sponge cakes. The crispness of the biscuit is a nice contrast to the creamy whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Stacking the layers of the dessert is impressive indeed. If you slice the biscuits widthwise, the even layers allow one to incorporate more height.

Homemade biscuits are divine, but if time is of the essence, simply purchase refrigerated biscuits. It only takes minutes to bake them and they are also delicious.

Premade whipped cream is another way to save time, but it only takes minutes to whip up a batch of fresh whipped cream. This is a case where homemade is well worth the extra effort.

If you are not sure how much cream to prepare; one cup of heavy whipping cream yields two cups of whipped cream.

If you are having over a large number of guests, consider layering the dessert in a wide shot glass or a tiny canning jar. This is a fun, finger friendly way of serving strawberry shortcake.

The summer is synonymous with strawberry shortcake. As a host, one has many options; refrigerated biscuits, homemade biscuits, premade whipped cream, and homemade whipped cream. Personal preference will be your guide.

Strawberry shortcake is fun, easy on one’s wallet, and will pleasantly surprise your family and guests. Enjoy!

Homemade Biscuits

½ cup butter (1 stick), frozen

2 ½ cups self-rising flour

1 cup chilled buttermilk

parchment paper

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Grate frozen butter using the large holes of a

box grater. Toss the grated butter and flour in a medium bowl. Chill 10 minutes.

2. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add buttermilk, and stir 15 times.

Dough will be sticky.

3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly sprinkle flour over the top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a ¾-inch-thick rectangle sheet (about 9 x 5 inches). Fold dough in half, and repeat the rolling and folding process 4 more times.

4. Roll dough to ½-inch thickness. Cut with a 2 ½-inch floured round cutter.

5. Place dough rounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush with melted butter.

Fresh Strawberries

1-quart (4 cups) strawberries

¼ cup sugar

1. Slice strawberries, but leave a whole strawberry for each shortcake as a garnish. In a medium bowl, mix the strawberries and sugar.

Basic Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

2 tablespoons powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Chill a clean metal bowl of your stand mixer and the whisk attachment or a clean metal bowl and the beaters of a hand-held mixer in the freezer for 15 minutes.

2. Whip the cream until it just starts to thicken, approximately 3 to 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and continue whipping until firm soft peaks form when the beaters are raised and facing upwards. Do not over beat – the whipped cream will lose its smooth texture and become stiff and coarse.

Presentation

Place a section of the bottom biscuit on the serving plate. Add a layer of whipped cream, then a layer of sliced strawberries. Repeat this process according to personal preference. Top with a whole strawberry and a light dusting of powdered sugar.

* The homemade biscuit recipe is taken from Southern Living website.

Secret Ingredient – Beauty. Through simplicity comes great beauty.

- Anonymous

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