What’s Cooking: Berry Shortcakes with Lemon Curd and Blackberry Sauce
In this edition of What’s Cooking, we’re helping you squeeze all you can out of the last bits of summer berry season with a sweet and lemony filling topped with ripe blackberries and raspberries—all sandwiched between an easy, buttery shortcake.
With another easy-to-follow recipe developed by our corporate chef Michael Northern and his small army of chefs and contributors, our blog editor Jeff Powell proves (with his photographic evidence) that you don’t have to be a professional chef to transform beautiful ingredients into irresistible food that’s meant to be shared with family and friends.
Our Crab Bisque recipe brought back memories of camping with my family as a kid on the Oregon Coast. But those summertime trips include at least one more vivid food memory. At the end of our trip, on the drive back home, there was a farmer’s fruit stand along the rural highway, and its specialty (at least as far as I was concerned) was strawberry shortcake. We’d stop whenever there were fresh strawberries in season, and a heaping bowl of ripe berries and whipped cream was always the last highlight of the trip for me.
This month’s recipe reminds me of those days, with its buttermilk shortcake that crumbles into pillowy whipped cream as you cut into it with a fork. A mound of fresh berries is still the star of the show, but blackberry sauce and tangy lemon curd counterbalance the other components for a bite that takes me back to childhood—while also satisfying a more adult palate. Our chefs took a classic, rustic dessert and gave it a refined polish that highlights the incomparable flavor of fresh berries and is perfect for summer entertaining.
Berry Shortcakes with Lemon Curd and Blackberry Sauce
from the Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook
“There are standard-issue shortcakes, and then there are those that stick in the memory. The contrast of the tart lemon curd with the sweet berries adds multiple layers of flavors that will have your guests swooning about just how good this dessert is. Use a gentle hand when mixing the dough, and try to serve the shortcakes when they are just cool enough to accept the billows of whipped cream without melting the topping.” —Nordstrom Chef Jason Longfeld
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
To make the blackberry sauce, bring the blackberries, the ½ cup of sugar, the 3 tablespoons of water, and the 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a boil in a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender and, leaving the lid ajar to let the steam escape, purée. Using a rubber spatula, rub the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl, discarding the seeds.
Let cool. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. (The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.) If the sauce seems too thick, thin with water, stirred in 1 tablespoon at a time.
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons coarse raw or Demerara sugar
To make the shortcakes, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, the baking soda and the salt into a medium bowl. Add the butter and toss to coat the cubes with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse peas. Mix the cream, buttermilk, and egg together in a glass measuring cup with a fork until combined. Stir the cream mixture into the flour mixture to make a soft, shaggy dough. Do not overmix.
Turn out the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Pat the dough into a 4-1/2-by-9-inch rectangle about 3/4 of an inch thick. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then crosswise into quarters to make eight 4-1/4-inch squares. One at a time, use your floured hands to pat and shape each square into a 3/4-inch-thick round.
Sprinkle the top of each shortcake with the raw sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing the rounds about 2 inches apart.
Bake until risen and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To make the whipped cream, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer set on high speed in a chilled medium bowl until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The cream can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. If it separates, beat it until it thickens again.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 fresh lemon juice
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Grated zest of 1 lemon
To make the lemon curd, place a fine-meshed sieve over a heat-proof bowl near the stove. Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until pale yellow and thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the lemon juice. Transfer to a heavy medium saucepan.
Add the butter. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula and scraping down the sides of the pan, until the butter has melted and the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula (an instant-read thermometer will reach 185ºF), about 5 minutes. Strain through the sieve to assure a smooth texture. Add the lemon zest to the curd and stir well. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
1 1/2 cups lemon curd (or store-bought lemon curd)
3 cups fresh raspberries
3 cups fresh blackberries
8 fresh mint sprigs for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Split each shortcake in half horizontally. For each serving, place a small dollop of lemon curd in the center of the plate and set the shortcake bottom in the dollop. Top with about 3 tablespoons lemon curd and then a dollop of the whipped cream. Add a large spoonful of each kind of berry to the shortcake, letting the berries cascade onto the plate. Finish with the shortcake top, placed off-center on the bottom. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of blackberry sauce on the plate around each shortcake. Add a mint sprig to the cream and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Download a printable PDF of this Berry Shortcake with Lemon Curd and Blackberry Sauce recipe, and find more tempting dishes in our Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook. Have a favorite recipe from our restaurants or cookbooks that you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!
Editor’s Note: Summer isn’t the only time of year to enjoy this delicious shortcake. To find inspiration for any season, I met with Ellen Benezra from our Restaurants Team, who has an impressive background working with pastries. She and I brainstormed a number of ideas for fillings and toppings no matter what the season, like grilled peaches with fig jam and honey whipped cream or wine-poached pears with chocolate sauce and ginger-infused whipped cream. (Use powdered ginger when whipping or infuse it beforehand by bringing the cream to a simmer and adding strips of fresh ginger. Let the ginger steep for at least 5 minutes, strain through a fine-mesh sieve and cool the infused cream completely in the refrigerator before whipping.)
Two other favorites of ours were caramelized mango and pineapple with Thai basil and habañero whipped cream (I love unexpected combos!) and caramelized apples with thyme, salted caramel and whipped cream—which sounded so good I had to try it.
Shortcakes with Caramelized Apples, Thyme and Salted Caramel
I made my own salted caramel with fleur de sel, but a good store-bought version will do. For 8 shortcakes, I peeled and sliced 6 apples and sautéed them in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat with a little sugar, a drizzle of the caramel and 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme. Once the the apples softened and caramelized (about 10 minutes), I removed them and deglazed the pan with a splash of apple cider.
After that had reduced, I added the salted caramel to the pan (off heat but still hot) to warm it back up, and then I spooned the warm caramel over the apples, topping them with whipped cream and the top of the shortcake. The thyme added a subtle extra layer to all the flavors that would make it a delicious dessert for a crisp fall night.
[Photos & commentary by Jeff Powell]