It’s strawberry time, one of the best times of the year. The season is a little late due to a cool spring, but that only means they are all the more welcome. Probably our favorite way to celebrate the scarlet gems is with a dessert I learned 14 years ago in the kitchen of an old friend of my mother’s. I know how long it’s been since I have been making this because my youngest child was four weeks old when I visited this lady and was fed this treat. Geviene used canned “grands” biscuits, but taking the trouble to make homemade biscuits really lifts this dish to a much higher plane. She and her family call it Strawberry LOL because one of her daughters-in-law said it reminded her of a dessert a little old lady might serve, and the name stuck. It is Strawberry LOL to us, too, despite the fact that it makes guests think we are calling it Strawberry Laughing OutLoud. It tastes so good you may in fact chuckle audibly on taking the first bite, which would not be inappropriate in the least.
Do I need to say use fresh, local strawberries? I didn’t think I did. Now, get up and go cook something good.
Serves, oh, maybe five or six people, unless you have a real shortcake hound in your bunch
2 c. self-rising flour
¼ c. shortening
generous 2/3 c. buttermilk
¼ c. melted butter in a shallow bowl
½ c. granulated sugar in a shallow bowl
1 qt. ripe strawberries, hulled and quartered or sliced
granulated sugar to sweeten berries, approx. ¼ — 1/2 c.
about 1 c. cold half and half or heavy cream for serving
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, cut shortening into the flour with a pastry blender until it resembles crumbs and small peas. Add the buttermilk and stir just until the dough comes together. If necessary, sprinkle a little water on any stray flour mixture and give it one or two stirs to incorporate. Now you can be wonderful and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 6-10 times, pat or roll it out to 3/8” thickness, and cut out biscuits w/ a 3” round cutter. Or, you can be lazy and use an ice cream scoop to plop blobs of dough into your floured hand. Pat each blob into a rough biscuit shape. Either way, place biscuits in a small baking pan as you form them. They can touch or be separate as desired. You should end up with about 10 or 12. Now, clean up your dough-making mess if you are icked-out by dough mess like me, and wash your hands so you can mess them up again.
3. Dip each biscuit into the melted butter and then dredge in the ½ c. granulated sugar. Return to the pan. Set aside while you work on the berries.
4. Toss the prepped berries with ¼ — 1/2 c. granulated sugar, to your taste. I use the leftover sugar from coating the biscuits and add some more if needed. Set aside to allow the berries to release their juices. Make ahead note: You can complete the recipe through this step, if desired, earlier in the day. Cover and chill the berries, and cover the biscuit pan with foil or plastic wrap and chill it, too. Remove the biscuits from the fridge about 30 minutes before you are ready to bake them. They may not rise as much as freshly-mixed biscuits, but I have never heard anyone complain.
5. Bake the biscuits for 12-15 minutes, checking and removing them when they are light to medium golden brown. This is the tricky part – all of the eaters have to be sitting at the table, spoons in hand, and past the “amen” – this is a dessert that needs to be consumed within moments of its completion.
6. As soon as the biscuits are out of the oven, assemble individual servings: into a bowl place one hot biscuit, top with a spoonful of sweetened strawberries, and finish with a generous splash of half and half or heavy cream. If you’ve done it right, you’ll hear a little sizzle when the berries and cream hit the hot sugared biscuits. Eat right away, and bless the God who thought of strawberries.