'More?!' asked my neighbour the fireman, smiling and eyes wide at the sight of me standing on his doorstep with a large punnet of freshly-picked, home grown strawberries. 'I'm afraid so,' I replied. 'Do you think you can manage to eat them?' We won't have any problems with that,' he laughed. 'I'll get the strawberry fairy onto them.'
I could have titled this post: 'First pick your strawberries, and then go pick some more'... for our strawberry patch is flourishing this year. In a recent article, I promised to share some good strawberry recipes with you. So, let's start with this one for strawberry pistachio shortcakes, which I have adapted from Paul Hollywood's fabulous book, British Baking. The beauty of this recipe is that not only are the assemble strawberry shortcakes simply divine (just ask Peter!) - the pistachio shortbreads make lovely plain biscuits too.
STRAWBERRY PISTACHIO SHORTCAKES
For the pistachio shortbread:
275g plain (AP) flour
90g pure icing sugar
a pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, diced, softened
1 free-range egg, whisked
75g finely ground pistachio nuts
For the strawberry vanilla cream filling:
200ml double cream
1 tablespoon sifted icing sugar
1 teaspoon ground vanilla or vanilla extract
250g fresh strawberries, sliced into bite sized morsels
a few extra strawberries, for decoration
icing sugar to dust
Start by making the shortbread. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a Pyrex bowl (if mixing by hand), or the bowl of a food processor/stand mixer. Add the butter, egg and pistachios, then work the ingredients together to form a smooth dough. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film and pop it into the fridge to chill for about an hour (in summer, less in cooler months).
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust a board or kitchen benchtop lightly with flour and, working quickly, roll out the biscuit dough to 5-mm thickness. Cut out rounds with an 8-cm biscuit cutter, taking care not to waste the trimmings. These can be re-shaped (even the last piece can be gently pressed into the form of the cutter). Pop the tray with the unbaked biscuits into the fridge and allow them to chill for 15-20 minutes. The longer you leave them, the less they will spread. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
Bake the shortbread for 15 minutes, or just until they are starting to brown lightly. Remove the tray from the oven and allow them to cool.
To make the vanilla cream filling, simply whip the double cream with the tablespoon of sifted icing sugar and the vanilla. Refrigerate the cream until you are ready to assemble the shortcakes.
To assemble, place half of the biscuits onto a board and spread or pipe the vanilla cream onto the bases. Top with morsels of strawberry. Then pop the tops on and sprinkle with icing sugar. Decorate with the extra strawberries. Makes 8 large shortcakes, or 12 smaller (if you use a smaller cutter).
Note: Buy shelled pistachios in bulk and keep them in the freezer.
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.