Bumping up an old topic here, because, well, it's that time of year, at least in the Middle South. As I made pound cakes to serve as the base for strawberry shortcake, I was thinking about the different iterations of strawberry shortcake I've had, and wondering what the phrase denotes in other parts of the world.
When I was a kid, we were of the sponge cake school of shortcake base. Berries capped, quartered or halved, macerated in a little sugar, heaped onto the sponge cake, topped with whipped cream (or more likely, Cool Whip).
When I moved to Arkansas, I found most folks who made their own shortcake made either a true shortcake cookie-ish base, or used simple piecrust. There's a regional restaurant in the heart of a big strawberry-growing area that is a destination in the spring for its strawberry shortcake, which consists of soft-serve ice cream, topped with macerated strawberries and surrounded by wedges of pie crust that have been cut, sprinkled with granulated sugar, and baked.
I had a friend (from up north, on the PA-NY state line) who contended proper shortcake was something like a biscuit, but sweetened. Never could get on board with that one. I've also known people who swore the only proper base for shortcake was angel food cake.
And somewhere, I hit on the notion of using pound cake as the base, and that's where I've stuck. It's fairly easy and quick to stir one up, and I almost always have the stuff on hand. I bake my recipe in a pair of 8 x 3.5 loaf pans, instead of a Bundt or tube pan, because that way I can freeze one. It's only mildly sweet, and it's a neutral canvas to best display the berries in their spring goodness. Plus it's wonderful at soaking up the juices.
What's underneath all the goodness in your strawberry shortcake? Any special tricks to macerating your berries, or just sugar? I will usually add a splash of white balsamic vinegar, if I have it on hand, and I had a friend who swore by cracked pepper along with the sugar. Whipped cream, creme fraiche, Cool Whip, or just naked? I lean toward barely sweetened creme fraiche.
And later in the year, do you make them with any other fruit? I often use fresh peaches once the strawberries are gone.
Let's hear about, and see, your shortcakes!