Friday, September 21, 2012

Buckwheat Shortcakes

Today is officially the last day of summer.  So what else could I do but whip up a fresh batch of shortcakes?  But not just any old shortcake for this occasion.  For something unusual and delectable, I baked these Buckwheat Shortcakes from Alice Medrich.  They're tender little cream scones that are wonderfully light and flavorful.

Shortcakes are incredibly easy to make and quick to bake.  This recipe has the perfect balance between all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, sugar and salt.  With a delicious light note of buckwheat flavor, they go well with acidic fresh fruits of the season.  And although the recipe calls for strawberries, I had some blueberry and plum compote waiting for companionship and I think this pairing is terrific.  And I bet fresh peaches or figs would also be really incredible.  So tuck this recipe away for the next time you have some of these fresh fruits on hand.  You'll be very pleased to have this unusually delicious shortcake in your repertoire.

Bench notes:
- Medrich recommends lining the baking pan with two layers of parchment to protect the bottom of the shortcakes from browning too much.  Or you can double stack two baking sheets.
- My shortcakes were done in 12 minutes so be sure to check on the early side.
- I buy small quantities of buckwheat flour at my local bulk market.  It has a higher fat content so it's likely to go rancid in large quantities.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before use.
- For a blueberry compote: Place 1 1/2 C fresh blueberries, 2 T - 2 1/2 T sugar (to taste), 1 1/2 T water and a pinch of cinnamon in a saucepan and simmer on low heat for 2 - 3 minutes.  Dissolve 3/4 t cornstarch + 3/4 t cold water and stir into the blueberries along with 3/4 t lemon juice.  Cook for another 2 - 3 minutes, stirring to keep from scorching.  Set aside to cool and thicken.  Toss in a couple of sliced plums for variation.
- For another delicious fall and winter shortcake, try Gingerbread Shortcake with Pears.

Buckwheat Shortcakes
adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich

1 C + 2 T all-purpose flour
1/4 C + 2 T buckwheat flour
1/4 C sugar
1 3/4 t baking powder
3/8 t salt
1 C heavy cream

2 - 2 1/2 pints fresh ripe strawberries
1 T - 2 T sugar, to taste
1 1/4 C heavy cream
1 T sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with two layers of parchment.

Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in the cream.  Using a rubber spatula, push the dry ingredients into the well with a folding motion just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  The dough will look a bit shaggy.  Gather and press the dough into a cohesive ball and turn out onto a floured surface.  Pat dough into a 6" x 6" square that is 3/4" thick.  Using a sharp knife and a quick up and down motion, cut into 9 squares.  Place them 1" apart on prepared baking sheet.  Brush with cream or milk and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, 12 - 15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

For assembly, hull and slice the strawberries and toss with 1 - 2 T sugar, to taste.  Whip the heavy cream with 1 T sugar until it forms very soft peaks.  Slice each shortcake in half and place bottom half on a plate.  Spoon a generous amount of berries and a dollop of whipped cream.  Cover with top half of the biscuit and serve.  


GG @ Quieting Life said...

I stumbled across this recipe last summer and it's become my preferred shortcake. It's even delicious all on its own (I bake the scraps just so I can nibble on them!). I recently served it with sliced peaches and plums that I'd tossed with just a hint of sugar and a splash of St. Germain liqueur – sublime!

pastry studio said...

GG, thanks for contributing your report on these lovely shortcakes. I agree they are wonderful as nibbles. And oh my gosh, with St. Germain liqueur? I love this idea!

Luv'n Spoonfuls said...

I have definitely bookmarked this one. I absolutely LOVE buckwheat and can't wait to experiment a little more with it. Thanks for a great recipe that can be used for whatever fruit is in season!